Spangled Cotinga
Cotinga cayana (Linnaeus)

These birds are found throughout the tropical zone of eastern Colombia east of the Andes, Venezuela north to Táchira, Mérida, and Delta Amacuro, the Guianas, south through eastern Ecuador and eastern Peru to northern Bolivia, and east across central and northern Brazil to Belém, Amapá, southeastern Pará, and extreme northern Goiás (Traylor 1979).

The range of the Spangled Cotinga overlaps considerably with those of C. cotinga (the Purple-breasted Cotinga) and C. maynana (the Plum-throated Cotinga). Within their range, Spangled Cotingas are usually found perching on dead tree-tops (Snow 1982), sometimes for long periods of time. They are usually silent unless alarmed by predators.

There are an additional five species of Blue Chatterer in South and Central America. Cotinga ridgwayi (Ridgway) known as Ridgway's Cotinga or the Turquoise Cotinga; Cotinga nattererii (Boissonneau) known as Natterer's (or Blue) Cotinga; Cotinga maynana (Linnaeus) known as the Plum-throated Cotinga; Cotinga cotinga (Linnaeus) known as the Purple-breasted Cotinga; and Cotinga maculata (M ller) known as the Banded Cotinga (Traylor 1979).

The various species differ slightly in the shade of blue and shape of the feathers, and can be used interchangeably in fly tying. Feathers from C. cotinga are the darkest of the seven species, having a purplish blue coloration and a rounded tip; C. maculata feathers are a deep navy blue and have the most pointed tips of all the seven species; feathers from C. amabilis are fairly rounded and medium blue/turquoise in coloration; feathers from C. nattererii and C. ridgwayi are turquoise and have oval tips; feathers from C. cayana are a lovely light aqua-turquoise color with nicely pointed tips while feathers from C. maynana are round, with white bases (as opposed to black in the other species). A band of lilac separating the white base from the purplish blue of the main feather.

Feathers from the Spangled Cotinga can be taken from virtually any part of the body, and they have traditionally been used in tails (Gitana Variation, Bo Peep, Nicol's Favourite, Black Fancy, Captain), veilings (Evangeline, Black Argus, Nepenthian), cheeks (Gitana Variation, Dandy, Fra Diavolo, Jock Scott), and even as hackle in flies such as Holland's Fancy (Kelson 1895) and in Major Traherne's Quinchat (Schmookler 1993). In Major Traherne's Chatterer, cotinga feathers are used for the body.

If you want to know more about the various cotingas and other birds related to our fly tying heritage, we suggest you order Rare and Unusual Fly Tying Materials: A Natural History.


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