Scaled Fruiteater (snakebird) - full scene, Rio Ñambi, Colombia
Here comes snakebird, a glorious birding highlight of our 2018 trip. Glorious for its beauty, our stupendous luck, and a great opportunity for me to be a smug "told ya" jackass.
Two days earlier, still at La Planada, we were given bird booklets of this place, Rio Ñambi. The booklet featured a few dozen birds known to occur in Rio Ñambi, so that we could anticipate them and think of targets.
Given my complete incompetence at birding (I really have no idea what I'm doing), I was basically just looking at whichever I found most attractive. Attractive to me strongly correlates to unusual. Weird, unlike anything else, is what I seek.
It didn't take long for me to obsess over a single bird: the scaled fruiteater. It has a feather pattern that looks like a snake, I don't know of any other bird remotely similar. What more can you ask of a bird? Tunnel vision set in, and I dismissed birds far more rare.
After announcing my desired target to several people, I was met with either silence or laughter. Nobody said why. I got the message and figured I picked an unrealistic target. Manuel picked a list of "real" targets, this time based on actual competence.
I kept occassionally dropping the hint for 2 days in a row but now as a joke, a joke that quickly was getting old.
Until...a bird landed on a branch straight in front of us. Out of the blue, without playback. This in itself rarely happens in forests. It was quite close, at about 8-10m. It was perched and didn't make an attempt to immediately flee. This forest is so dark though that all I could see was a dark silhouette. Only super bright binoculars from Manuel and some flash by myself revealed the identity of our unexpected guest.
Stupendous luck, but oh did it feel right. It's not just a gorgeous and unusual bird to see, its behavior is a joy to experience. Very dog-like, where it tilts its head in curiosity.
The scaled fruiteater is a species of bird in the family Cotingidae. It is the only member of the genus ''Ampelioides''.
It is found in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, where its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.