The rufous motmot (Baryphthengus martii) is the largest of six motmot species in Costa Rica; three others occur elsewhere. Motmots typically have short broad beaks, often decurved, and striking plumage coloration. There is no significant sexual dimorphism. All motmots in Costa Rica have two elongated central tail feathers; racket-tipped because loosely-attached barbs upshaft fall off, leaving much of the shaft itself bare.
These are mainly solitary birds, sometimes occurring in pairs, which usually perch inconspicuously in shade, with the tail swinging frequently like a pendulum. Foraging involves aerial sallying from a perch, capturing insects and plucking fruit from foliage.