BIRDS IN AMAZONIAN PERU

When you travel in Peru the most conspicuous vertebrates (aside from humans) are birds, and they are as varied and wonderful as the country itself. Taken as a whole, Peru has over 1800 species of birds of which over 100 species are endemics (known only from Peru). The lowland rainforests of the Amazon Basin in northeastern Peru comprise but one of the nine life zones in the country, yet they contain some 700 species of birds, or 38% of the country’s total. Birds exploit practically every type of habitat ranging from the high Andes to the Pacific Ocean. In the Peruvian Amazon birds have exploited the aquatic realm, wading and shore birds use the water’s edge, birds live in swamp forest, upland forest, secondary and primary growth, scrub and the high canopy. It is impossible to convey the rich diversity of Amazonian birds with a few photographs, so we’ll show a few and revisit the subject many times in upcoming contributions.

A sampling of Amazonian birds from Peru

Masked Crimson Tanager
Masked Crimson Tanager Ramphocelus nigrogularis
Peru has a richness of magnificently colored tanagers and fortunately
many are conspicuous inhabitants of pasture land and
other areas of secondary growth.
Cream-colored Woodpecker
Cream-colored Woodpecker Celeus flavus
This unmistakable beauty is best located
along river margins and in swamp forest.
Barred Forest Falcon
Barred Forest Falcon Micrastur ruficollis
Although forest falcons are difficult to observe they may be
the most dominant predatory bird group in the Peruvian Amazon
where no fewer than five species can be found.
Wattled Curassow
Wattled Curassow Crax globulosa
Curassows are the size of turkeys and as such are hunted for food.
Most of them are now restricted to the more remote regions of forest.
Interestingly, locals examine their crops for gold flecks the big birds consume.
Blue and yellow Macaw
Blue and yellow Macaw Ara ararauna
Macaws rank among the most spectacular and noticeable of
Amazonian birds and a raucous flock of Blue and yellow Macaws
makes for an unforgettable sight.
Scarlet Macaw
Scarlet Macaw Ara macao
The classic pirate’s pet, Scarlet macaws are familiar the world over.
Sometimes we see mixed flocks of Scarlet with Blue and yellow macaws.
It looks like an airborne (and noisy!) festival when they fly over our boat.
Ferruginous Pygmy-owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-owl Glaucidium brasilianum
One of the smallest owls in the country, this tiny predator is often
active by day. It prefers riverside and swamp forests and second-growth.
The distinctive call is often heard just prior to dawn.
Hoatzin
Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoatzin
This bizarre bird is in its own family. It is herbivorous and the
newly hatched young can swim and have claws on their wings to
help them climb back into the spiny palms where these strange creatures nest.
Pied Lapwing
Pied Lapwing Vanellus cayanus
This boldly colored plover is a fairly common resident
along sandy beaches and adjacent open areas.
Sun Bittern
Sun Bittern Europyga helias
This interesting bird hunts for food along streams, rivers and
the edges of forest lakes. When threatened it spreads and
raises the wings exposing a pair of imposing eye spots.
Capped Heron
Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus
This lovely bird is found from central Panama south across
most of tropical South America. Capped Herons
tend to be loners and they tend to be shy,
so seeing one is always special.