Scientific Name: Steatornis caripensis
Classification: Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, (unranked) Cypselomorphae, Order: see text, Suborder: Steatornithes, Family: Steatornithidae, Genus: Steatornis
Size: 16 - 19 1/2 inches.
Lifespan: 20 - 25 years.
Habitat: North and Central South America.
Food: Eats the fruits of laurels and Oil palms exclusively.
Adaptations/Unique Facts: The only nocturnal fruit-eating bird in the world. During the day it lives in caves, sometimes two thirds of a mile underground. It leaves the cave at night and may travel 45 miles for food. Oilbirds use sight and smell to locate their food. They do, however, use echolocation in their caves to navigate, which is also where they make their nests, using harsh cries to keep in touch with one another.
Reproduction: The nest is a heap of droppings, usually above water - either a stream or the sea, on which 2-4 glossy white eggs are laid which soon become stained brown. These are rounded but with a distinctly pointed smaller end and average 41.2 X 33.2 mm. The squabs become very fat before fledging, weighing up to half again as much as the adult birds do. They used to be harvested and rendered for oil, hence the name "oilbird".
Endangered Status?: Not endangered.
Other: It is sufficiently distinctive to be placed in a family (Steatornithidae) and suborder (Steatornithes) of its own; more recent research indicates that it should even be considered a distinct order (which does not yet have a valid taxonomic name).
Thousands of Oilbirds in Cueva del Guacharo in Monagas State in Venezuela. Here they fly above the people in total darkness, emitting their screeching cries.