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Mot Mot - It's Mayan Legend


The Mot Mot owes its name to the clock bird its disc-shaped tail feathers, which resemble the pendulum of a grandfather clock. The similarity is further enhanced by the bird actually wagging its tail back and forth, possibly as a way of communicating with other mot mots or as a courtship ritual.

The bird Toh in the mythology of the Mayas, was known as the blue bird that would be an outcast, an outlaw. Somehow it is: in the jungle, hidden in the caves of the walls of the cenotes or in the corners of Mayan ruins, camouflaged among the branches of the lush vegetation, hides the toh or mot mot (Eumomota superciliosa).


The name of the mot mot in Maya is toh, and it shows in local legends and traditions that according to one story, the mot mot liked to meet its royal companions and spent the day telling stories and eating insects while other birds worked.

He was such a beautiful creature and so proud of his shiny tail and plumage that its made him arrogant and cocky.

One afternoon, when black clouds gathered on the horizon, the king vulture announced all the birds to a meet and they decided to build a shelter. Chujut the Woodpecker, Panchel the Toucan, Mox the Parrot and Xtut gathered wood, Baax the Chachalaca and Cutz the Wild Turkey carried the heaviest branches and the Hummingbirds collected grass, herbs and leaves for the roof.

Other birds collected fruits and seeds to bring them before the storm.

Only the mot mot refused to help and said he was an aristocrat, not a worker. When the storm broke, the mot mot found a crack in a stone wall that he thought would hide him well. He crawled in and went to sleep, not realizing his elegant long tail was still outside.

Encounter these beautiful birds during our Mayan Explorer Tour

When the mot mot awoke later and emerged from its shelter to sing in the sun like the other birds. He was amazed to see that of his beloved tail only two ruffled and bare barbs with a small plumage were left at the end. The wind and the water had done their worst.

Horrified, he realized what a fool he had been. Pride soon overcame him and he decided to avoid his former companions for fear that they would mock him. He flew into the depths of the forest and dug a hole in which he hid to this day. He still holds for himself; Sitting on branches overlooking the cenotes, he swings his long tail incessantly like the pendulum on a clock.


With patience and a good eye it is possible to find its iridescent plumage, with a triangular spot on the chest surrounded by turquoise, and of equal color over the eyes, head of green feathers and cinnamon colored belly.

This endangered species symbolizes a change of state, a maturation of energy, an evolution from one stage to another, a journey of no return to that which destiny has reserved for us since we are born. The toh lives in the caves, where Mayan shamans perform initiation rituals for young people who start their own lives.


The sacred Mayan bird toh is only found in southeastern Mexico to Costa Rica. Jut-jut, the Momotus momota; both are part of a family of eight species scattered throughout the world, six of which can be found in Mexico. Our "clock work bird" usually lives near cenotes or places where there is water, and therefore mosquitoes, which make up their basic diet and which attracts with the pendular movement of its tail. If we are lucky and patient we can see them during our tours through the Yucatan Peninsula.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to write in the comment section below or send us an e-mail to: contact@kay.tours.

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