Motmots appear solitary, but seem to maintain pair bonds during and between years.

Many motmots have a subtle or soft "hooting" call, but there are exceptions. The call of the tody motmot has a ring to it, and the call of the broad-billed motmot is a louder, resonant "honk".

Motmots are not very active and often go undetected. The tail often pendulates, sometimes jerkily. They are inactive at night, active during twilight at dawn and dusk. Calling is most active during early morning light.

Some short-distance migration patterns are probable. For example, turquoise-browed motmots are often absent from breeding grounds for most of February, but return in March. Such seasonal movements are likely associated with changes in habitat association, but the family is mostly non-migratory.

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