Alicanto

Alicanto

The Alicanto is a glowing nocturnal bird comparable to the Carbuncle, perhaps sharing the same folkloric origin. It is  known to inhabit Chile, and has been reported from Atacama, San Bernardo, Santiago, Talagante, and Tarapacá.

Alicantos feed exclusively on metal ores, and take on the color of the metal they ingest – a gold-eating alicanto emits a golden light, while the silver-eating variety glows a cold metallic gray. The rare copper-eating alicanto is greenish, with large wings, a hooked beak, long legs, and sharp claws. Due to its phosphorescence, an alicanto does not cast a shadow. The eyes are bright and gleam silver.

These birds are flightless, but their wings are perfectly functional. They will often gorge themselves on metal, filling their crop so much that they cannot fly. At best they run fast with their wings held open; a full alicanto can barely drag itself along the ground.

Alicantos live around mines and hidden treasure, and nest in small caves. The female always lays two eggs, the shells of which are made of the metal she eats.

As an alicanto indicates the presence of precious metal, finding one can be highly lucrative. For that reason they are sought out by prospectors, engineers, miners, and unscrupulous looters hoping that the birds will lead them to rich veins. However, an alicanto is highly protective of its food sources, and if it knows it’s being followed, it will stop glowing and disappear into the darkness – or worse, lead its pursuers to a cliff.

References

Aguirre, S. M. (2003) Mitos de Chile. Random House, Editorial Sudamericana Chilena.

Cifuentes, J. V. (1947) Mitos y supersticiones (3rd Ed.). Editorial Nascimento, Santiago, Chile.

Sapo Fuerzo

Variations: Strong Toad

Strong toad

The sapo fuerzo, or “strong toad”, is a remarkable amphibian from the Andes of Chile. It can be easily distinguished from regular toads by its hard, turtle-like shell. It is phosphorescent, and glows in the dark like a firefly.

It earns its name from its supernatural powers and its incredible resilience. A sapo fuerzo is capable of attracting or repelling anything within its reach by the sheer power of its gaze. It can also regenerate and recover from virtually any injury, and the only way to kill one is burn it and reduce it completely to ashes.

References

Aguirre, S. M. (2003) Mitos de Chile. Random House, Editorial Sudamericana Chilena.

Cifuentes, J. V. (1947) Mitos y supersticiones (3rd Ed.). Editorial Nascimento, Santiago, Chile.