Bird-watching in Peru

Bird-watching in Peru

Imagine a country with 1,831 species of birds…. A country with more bird species than found in all of North America and Europe combined. Home to 119 endemic species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world! Imagine traveling through the land of the Incas, among locals dressed in colorful woven fabrics. Here at the birthplace of the potato, visit with the people of ancient traditions, flavor tasty cuisine, mingle in lively markets and see sophisticated folk art- just to name a few of the country's unmistakable allure.

Visualize waking up in the morning to ear-deafening noise of thousands parrots and macaws - an unforgettable cacophonic experience as they arrive each morning for their daily supplementary diet of mud. Picture yourself seeing a beautiful male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock with the backdrop of the Inca fortress of Machu Picchu, or having a close encounter with a huge Andean Condor as it soars above the majestic Colca Canyon. Experience the heart-stopping image of a male Marvelous Spatuletail hauling his coin-sized tail discs or moving thru a bog at 14,000 feet to find a smart White-bellied Cinclodes, one of only 28 individuals known to exist in the world, and all of them in Peru.

Bird-watching Routes in Peru

A TRUE PARADISE FOR BIRDS

Three principal birdwatching routes have been developed that allow birdwatchers to cover a great many zones of life, crossing the country from west to east in the form of transects at different altitudes, with the corresponding variation in birdlife. It is possible to record lists of several hundred species on each trip.

SOUTHERN ROUTE - BIRD-WATCHING IN PERU

The bird-watching route through the Southern region has always been the best known. This circuit is also known as the “Megadiversity Route”. From Lima, it crosses the rich coastal waters of Paracas and the mysterious Nazca Lines; the Andes through Pampa Galeras (where vicuñas are protected), or through Arequipa and the Colca Valley, or Cuzco, the so-called “navel of the world” and Sanctuary of Machu Picchu; the high Andean plateau of Puno and Lake Titicaca until it reaches the plains of Manu, Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja Sonene National Park. This route is noted for having the best infrastructure of the three routes and for being the cradle of the Inca Empire.

The main birds that can be seen along this route are those that live in the Polylepis or queñual forests, those birds that visit the clay licks (known as "Collpas"); bamboo specialists and ant-eating birds; as well as other specialist categories. The most emblematic birds are the Inca Wren (Pheugopedius eisenmanni) and the Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana).

 

Photo Gallery Hummingbirds in Machu Picchu Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery Birds of Paracas Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery Birds of Paracas Photo Gallery # 2

Photo Gallery Birds of Tambopata Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery Macaws and Parrots of Tambopata

NORTHERN ROUTE - BIRD-WATCHING IN PERU

With a total of more than 1,200 listed species, the Northern Route is home to some of the most sought-after endemic Peruvian birds, such as the Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) and the White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis). The main route runs from west to east, from the cities of Trujillo or Chiclayo, and is ideal for observing the species that live in the dry forests of the Tumbes region. The transition in this sector of the country is influenced by the altitude of the Andes in this zone and by the tropical climate that dominates the northern region.

The north also includes the areas of Tumbes and the River Marañón as well as the mega-region of Iquitos, (Pacaya Samiria - Allpahuayo Mishana) which is rich in varieties of endemic species.

The mountain pass at Abra Patricia together with the Lechucita Bigotona Biological Station has become one of the best known bird watching spots, with excellent forests near the route and a good system of pathways through the protected area.

This is where the rediscovered species Long-whiskered Owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) is found, and it is also the site of the Huembo interpretation center for the observation of hummingbirds, where the highlight is the Marvelous Spatuletail. The remote territories of the ethnic Awajun people, located along the banks of the River Marañón, Cenepa, Santiago and its surroundings, are home to species such as the endemic White-masked Antbird (Pithys castaneus) and the regionally endemic Orange-throated Tanager (Wetmoretraupis sterrhopteron).

CENTRAL ROUTE - BIRD-WATCHING IN PERU

Peru's Central Birdwatching Route offers an interesting alternative to the Northern and Southern routes and requires less time. This is basically an altitudinal transect that covers a series of zones of life which are, in several cases, exclusive to the central section of our highly diverse country.

This route is accessible overland from the city of Lima (with no need to fly) and depending on the time available it is possible to extend the exploration eastwards, descending down to the Amazonian plain that surrounds the city of Pucallpa. In general, the route goes from west to east, gaining height rapidly as it crosses the Central Andes. This route offers a wide range of alternatives for birdwatching, thanks to the number of zones of life and habitats that can be found along the way. The accommodation is mostly made up of simple hostels located in the major cities and towns, as well as campsites in the more isolated destinations.

At various points along the route it is possible to see interesting endemic species, such as the Golden-backed Mountain Tanager (Buthraupisa ureodorsalis) and the Junin Grebe (Podiceps taczanowski). In the 1980s, the legendary North American field ornithologist Ted A. Parker III made the route of the Central Highway famous, including Santa Eulalia Canyon, Marcapomacocha Lagoon, the Milloc Bog, Ticlio, or Abra Anticona, at more than 4,800 masl, Lake Junin, Unchog Forest, Carpish Tunnel and mountains, Tingo María National Park (with the accessible Guácharos Caves) and the lowlands of the Amazonian plain that surrounds Pucallpa, located on the banks of the River Ucayali, one of the two main tributaries of the Amazon River.

From Pucallpa it is possible to travel to the Cerros del Sira, a chain of mountains separate from the Andes, where the Sira Tanager (Tangara phillipsi) can be found, or towards the basin of the River Cushabatay, in search of the Scarlet-banded Barbet (Capito wallacei). Other destinations on this route are those places that can be explored on a day trip from the city of Lima.

THE BIRDS OF PERU

The combination of geographical, climate and evolutionary factors mean that there are 1,831 different bird species in Peru (according to the official lists of SACC/CRAP), which makes it an exceptional place for birdwatching.

Peru is the second of the twelve megadiverse countries. 70% of the biological diversity of the planet is concentrated within its borders. According to the Holdridge classification, it has 84 of the 117 zones of life registered on the earth. Its location in the central-west of the South American continent, the two currents that feed its coasts and the presence of the Andes Mountains create the ideal conditions for such diversity.

There is also huge potential for future scientific discoveries at species and subspecies level in areas of the country that are relatively inaccessible and that, as a result of their isolation, may add new records of species not previously known.

Peru has more bird species than North America and Europe put together. It records the largest number of endemic species in the world (more than 120). Over the past three decades an average of two new species has been discovered each year.

The largest flying bird in the world (the Andean Condor - Vultur griphus) is found in Peru, as well as the second smallest bird on the planet (Short-tailed Woodstar - Myrmia micrura).

Our country holds the world record for the largest number of birds observed in one day without the use of motorized vehicles. This was a total of 331 birds spotted in the Biological Station of Cocha Cashu, in Manu National Park. The record was set by Ted A. Parker III and Scott Robinson in 1982.

 

Bird-watching in Peru
  • Bird-watching in Peru


    Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis)
    Endemic to Peru

    © PromPeru

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana)
    Peru's National bird

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Black Metaltail (Metallura phoebe)
    Endemic to Peru

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes (Cinclodes taczanowskii)
    Endemic to Peru

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis)
    Endemic to Peru

    © PromPeru

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Bluish-fronted Jacamar (Galbula tombacea)

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Green-and-white Hummingbird (Leucippus viridicauda)
    Endemic to Peru

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Red-legged Cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi)
    Endemic to Peru

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Bird-watching in Peru

    Chestnut-breasted Coronet (Boissonneaua mattewsii)

    © J. Mazzotti