Birdwatching in the Peruvian Amazon

Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus), Peru
Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus), Peru

Nowhere in the world is there such a plethora of birdlife as in the Amazon rainforest. The Parque Nacional del Manu alone is home to over 1,000 different species. Their names are often as exotic as their appearance: from golden-headed quetzals to yellow-rumped caciques, roseate spoonbills to pale-winged trumpeters; they represent a birdwatcher’s dream. Who wouldn’t think their trip worthwhile if they spotted a paradise tanager, known as the siete colores because of its seven-colored plumage? Or a jabirú stork, one of the largest flying birds in the Americas, which is up to 1.4 meters (4.5ft) in length?

An incredible Jabiru mycteria. Photo: Shutterstock

Many species fly in mixed flocks: insectivorous birds, such as woodcreepers and antbirds, will flock together, sometimes as many as 100 of them travelling in a great cloud. This makes individuals difficult to distinguish on first sighting, but they tend to stick to the same feeding areas so, if you identify their territory, you will have a great opportunity to spot a variety of species together. The same applies to the mixed flocks of fruit-eaters, which include tanagers, fruitcrows, and parrots.  Not that rainforest birds are always easy for the uninitiated to spot, which is why an experienced guide is invaluable, and one usually accompanies visitors on organized tours.

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A Male Plumbeous Antbird (Myrmeciza hyperythra) in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo: Shutterstock

The Reserva Nacional Tambopata protects the largest macaw lick in South America, the Colpa de Guacamayos. Here birdwatchers can view one of the world’s phenomenal avian spectacles, as hundreds of red, blue, and green parrots and macaws gather at the lick daily. Squawking raucously, they wheel through the air before landing together on the riverbank to eat clay. Trails around the macaw lick offer birding in both floodplain and high-ground forest. Orinoco geese and large horned screamers can also be seen along clear streams near the Andean foothills.

The oxbow lakes of the Amazon are the habitat of herons, hoatzins, egrets, and wattled jacanas, who forage for food on the shores. Raptors, flying high above the canopy, can present more of a problem, but the harpy eagle and the crested eagle, among other majestic creatures, can be spotted from vantage points at clearings or on riverbanks.

Orange colorful bird, Cotinga, Cock on the rock in peruvian Amazon. Photo: Shutterstock

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