Motmots eat invertebrates, or animals without a backbone (such as beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, centipedes, cicadas [suh-KAY-duhz], crabs, dragonflies, earthworms, mantids, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and snails), small vertebrates, or animals with a backbone (such as frogs, lizards, nestling birds, small fishes, and small snakes), and fruits (such as the fruit of figs, heliconia, incense, palms, and nutmegs). It appears that the larger the species, the more fruit it has in its diet.
Motmots secure food in different ways, depending on the size of the species. Smaller species use sit-and-wait strategies and secure prey that is flying, while larger species fly in their search for prey that is usually on the ground. Once caught, prey is beaten against a perch with their strong bills in order to crush it. Indigestible food is regurgitated (re-GER-jih-tate-ud) as pellets. Some species follow trains of army ants that disturb insects, allowing them to grab the insects.
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