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Screaming Piha Video

Posting a video for a change since a photo will not do justice to this bird!

If you had to pick only one experience that is emblematic of the Amazon, hearing the call of the Screaming Piha would be a leading candidate. The bird is perhaps one of the most drab looking birds you can imagine and certainly the most drab of the Cotingas, a family known for the gaudy plumages and elaborate mating displays of its males. But what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for it in its voice. And even though its only found in South America, its call is the standard sound of the jungle in many Hollywood films and I enjoy hearing it even in movies that are supposed to be shot in other parts of the world (e.g. Apocalypse Now - Vietman; Predator and Sniper - Central America, Sniper 3 - South East Asia etc.). Loose group of males spread out over a relatively large area to call to each other to demonstrate their worthiness to females that wander through this vocal arena. And depsite the fact that the call is perhaps the loudest among the birds (one research paper puts it at 115 decibels at the distance of 1m), it can be very hard to see. You hear the call, and you scan and scan the understory but you just can't find it. "Its got to be right here, darn it ...". And then, sometimes, you do pick it up and realize that it indeed was right in front of you. But if you do get a good look, and see how it literally puts its whole heart, soul and body into the call, and its all worth it.

Tambopata, Peru, August 2015. (Check the volume level on your speakers before playing this!)

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Uploaded on September 13, 2015