They are distinguished from other motmots by their much wider bills. The rackets on their tails are less dramatic than those of many other motmot species and may be absent. The species are very similar except in adult plumage (but the adult keel-billed resembles the juvenile broad-billed). A mixed pair apparently courting has been observed (Howell and Webb 1995).
The name Electron is a Latinization of the Ancient Greek word for amber, and can mean "bright" in scientific names (Jaeger 1978); the amber-colored eyes of the keel-billed motmot (Howell and Webb 1995) may be the connection. The name was given 46 years before an elementary particle was named electron.
- Howell, Steve N. G.; Webb, Sophie (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press. pp. 439, 790–791. ISBN 0-19-854012-4.
- Jaeger, Edmund C.. A Source-Book of Biological Names and Terms. Charles C. Thomas. p. 90. ISBN 0-398-00916-3. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
- Peterson, Alan P. (Editor). 1999. Zoological Nomenclature Resource (Zoonomen). Accessed 2007-08-17.
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