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Acrylic on illustration board 15" x 20"
Cousins of kingfishers, the motmots comprise a family of inconspicuous tropical American forest birds. Except for one uncommon species, they are notable for their two elongated central tail feathers, the barbs of which are loosely anchored and quickly fall away, leaving naked shafts and a characteristic racket-tail. The most widespread motmot, the Blue-crowned (Momotus momota), ranges from Mexico to Trinidad and northern Argentina. Like all motmots, it feeds on some fruits and a variety of arthropods and small vertebrates, including snakes. Research has shown that motmots shun the bold black, white and red pattern typical of highly venomous coralsnakes (Micrurus spp.), but it has yet to be determined how they react to the unusual pattern of Langsdorff's Coralsnake (M. langsdorffii) of the northwest Amazonian Basin, which lacks black bands. This painting displays a hypothetical take on this situation while depicting a common defensive tactic of coralsnakes. Here the subject, half buried in leaf litter, raises and writhes its boldly barred tail, confusing its antagonist, who has trouble deciding which end to strike