With a territory as extensive as Peru, it is to be expected that there are a few places where you can enjoy bird watching. Thanks to its great biological and geographical diversity, Peru is home to 20% of all bird species in the world. Which makes it one of the best countries to experience bird watching. With more than 1800 species of birds to photograph and observe, it is quite difficult to know where to start. That is why together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru we have prepared a small article about the best places to enjoy bird watching.
Peru is one of the most diverse countries for birds on Earth. Its varied geography and topography have endowed the country with one of the greatest biodiversity in the world. With approximately more than 1800 species of birds living in its different corners. Of which 106 are endemic to the country. It is no more exciting for many ornithologists than the new species being discovered as this article is being written. In recent years, new species have been found that have not yet been given a scientific name.
A complete guide on how to experience bird watching in Peru
- Bird watching in Peru
- Where to enjoy bird watching in Peru?
- Manu National Park
- Tambopata National Reserve
- Colca Canyon
- Paracas National Reserve
- Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
- New species of Peru
BIRD WATCHING IN PERU
Unlike other destinations such as Ecuador and Costa Rica, Peru has large expanses of forests and intact wilderness areas. By way of illustration, two-thirds of the Manu Biosphere Reserve remains unexplored. Of which many uncontacted indigenous tribes live within. Bird watching can be a wonderful excuse to travel to wild and remote places. And in the Andean country, you will find a charming place to be. It has unsurpassed scenery, magnificent culture and history, astonishing archaeological sites, and unparalleled cuisine.
If you are new to bird watching, Peru could potentially be a perfect destination. In a trip of a few days, you are guaranteed to see hundreds of species of birds. And many of these birds can be quite difficult to identify. Nevertheless, most tours have a field guide to help you. Keep in mind that a trip covering all viewing sites can be difficult to accomplish unless you have plenty of time. But this guide will give you an idea of the places available and what possible species you will come across.
WHERE TO ENJOY BIRD WATCHING IN PERU?
To give you an idea, Peru has more species of birds than are found in all of North America and Europe combined. In addition, many of these are endemic, that is, they cannot be found anywhere else in the world! Visualize waking up in the morning to the deafening noise of thousands of parrots and macaws. This is one of the cacophonous experiences that you can enjoy while you are in Peru. Or imagine being able to appreciate a beautiful Andean cock-of-the-rocks against the backdrop of the Inca fortress of Machu Picchu. Or picture yourself having an encounter with an Andean Condor in the wonderful Colca Canyon.
Peru is a whole country to explore, and over the last 30 years, more than 42 new species of birds have been described. And this only in some of the few protected regions that Peru has. By way of illustration, in the white sand forest of Allpahuayo Mishana, one of the many protected natural areas near Iquitos, three new species have been found. But the best place to enjoy bird watching is in the following locations. The majority of routes and routes in Peru pass through some of these regions.
MANU NATIONAL PARK
Manu National Park is known for having the greatest biodiversity of any protected site in the world. Located in Paucartambo, Cusco, and Madre de Dios, this national park is a key conservation unit for birds in Peru and has been voted one of the top ten places for bird watching in the world. In total, more than 1000 species of birds have been recorded in the area. Before being labeled as a protected area by the Peruvian government, the Manu National Park remained conserved as a result of its inaccessibility. When you visit Manu, you can explore a variety of habitats, from orchid-laden cloud forests to the rich Amazon rainforest.
The birds you will see here include various species of hummingbirds, herons, parrots, and the most striking of all: the cock of the rocks, the national bird of Peru. The cock-of-the-rock is a medium-sized bird that is native to the Andean cloud forests of South America. As is often the case with other species of birds, the male has stronger color hues. While the female boasts dark and earthy colors. Inside Manu, you will have the opportunity to appreciate this as well as other incredible species of birds. If you plan to visit this wonderful park, it would be a good idea to include it in the different amazon tours from Cusco.
FEATURED BIRD: COCK OF THE ROCKS
The male has a large disc-shaped crest on its head that differentiates it from any other species. And in Manu, you will have great opportunities to see these splendid birds in their natural habitat. The cock-of-the-rock is known to have a fairly varied diet. These birds eat fruits, insects, reptiles, small mice, and amphibians. Males are often recognized for the series of mating songs and dances that they use. These in a kind of song and dance competition attract females. Those who after mating are responsible for making the nest and incubating the eggs. Manu’s cloud forests allow the cock-of-the-rocks to live undisturbed.
TAMBOPATA NATIONAL RESERVE
Another important destination where you can enjoy bird watching is the Tambopata National Reserve. This extensive and diversified reserve is located within the Peruvian Amazon basin, just south of the Madre de Dios River. If you plan to travel to Tambopata, you can get to the reserve by boat from the city of Puerto Maldonado. The reserve is home to some of the wildest and most pristine environments on planet earth, allowing numerous species of birds to flourish.
Visitors are granted minimal access when looking to explore the reserve. All in the effort to ensure the protection of the reserve. Its great purity and natural preservation is the reason for its popularity and attractiveness. Not in vain Tambopata is considered one of the best destinations for bird watching. To have a dimension of the biodiversity that the reserve boasts, you can find approximately 670 different species of birds. Some of the most popular species in the area are the harpy eagle, the hoatzin, thirteen different species of tinamú, and the popular macaw. There are many reasons to visit Tambopata, and the known macaw is one of the best. However, you should also check Puerto Maldonado before leaving for your tour.
FEATURED BIRD: THE GUACAMAYO
About four species of large and four small macaws have been recorded within the Tambopata National Reserve. Along with 17 other species of parrots and parakeets of different sizes. The macaw’s large size, strong voice, social nature, and vivid colors make these tropical birds of the Parrot family a favorite of many. One of the largest birds is the Hyacinth macaw. This one has a wingspan of up to 4 feet or 1.2 meters.
The main diet of these birds consists of different foods such as fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, and leaves. However, some research suggests that macaws in the Amazon basin also eat clay. This serves to neutralize the different toxins in their bodies. This consumption is exclusive to macaws found in the western Amazon region. And its consumption is usually quite a spectacle to behold. Inside Tambopata, you will be able to appreciate the macaws eating from the different clay licks.
After immersing yourself in an Amazon tour in Peru, it may be time to get to know Arequipa and its great attractions. Another of the best destinations in Peru to experience bird watching is the Colca Canyon. The Colca Canyon is located in southern Peru, about 160 kilometers northwest of Arequipa. The Canyon is a great tourist spot, since it has an approximate depth of 4,160 meters, doubling the depth of the well-known Grand Canyon. And right next to the Canyon is the Colca Valley, another natural paradise full of wonderful scenarios.
These environments are home to numerous species of birds, of which you can find the giant hummingbird, the Chilean flamingo, the Andean goose, and the popular Andean condor. Usually, bird enthusiasts come to the Canyon to appreciate the majestic Condor. Condors are a sight to behold and can be admired up close when they fly. The condor is one of the longest-lived bird species, having a useful life of more than one hundred years.
FEATURED BIRD: THE ANDEAN CONDOR
The majestic Andean condors of the Colca are one of the best spectacles to behold in the region. These can be admired up close as they fly down the canyon walls. The different viewpoints available will give you this incredible possibility. One of these popular viewpoints is the Cruz del Cóndor, where the canyon floor is about 1,200 meters.
This wonderful South American bird is one of the only species of condors of the vulture family on the American continent. They are primarily scavengers and feed on dead or decomposing Peruvian animals. The condor has a quite distinctive appearance. It has a neck practically without feathers and reddish in color. Even her neck changes color depending on her emotional state.
PARACAS NATIONAL RESERVE
Following the list is the Paracas National Reserve, an incredible Peruvian destination where birds are not the only attraction. This incredible reserve is located about four hours south of Lima, very close to the city of Ica. In general, those who choose to vacation in the surroundings of the Reserve do so with plans to visit the Ballestas Islands. These rock formations are one of the most important marine sanctuaries in Peru. In them, you can see seals, dolphins, and a great variety of birds. To reach them it is necessary to undertake a boat excursion. But the payoff this tour brings is unparalleled. You will be able to observe the Humboldt penguin, the Guano Guanay bird, and pelicans among other species. The tour to the Islands is one of the best introductions to Peruvian bird watching.
FEATURED BIRD: THE GUANAY GUANO BIRD
While the Guanay Guano may not be the prettiest bird of the bunch, it certainly has unique qualities. This bird is one of which you have to make sure to spot, especially if you are looking to travel to Paracas. This bird usually lives mainly on the Peruvian coast and northern Chile. But its preferred habitat is sea waters and rocky shores. Its physical appearance is characterized by a grayish beak, with a red tint at the base of it.
The Guanay Guano bird is one of the main guano producers. Guano is a fairly effective fertilizer for plants. This is due to its high concentration of potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen. Three essential nutrients for a soil suitable for plants. But today these birds are at the center of different conservation programs.
PACAYA SAMIRIA NATIONAL RESERVE
After enjoying Machu Picchu and the jungle, you can choose to tour the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. This reserve claims to be one of the most virgin places in the Amazon and an excellent destination for bird watching. This reserve is located within the department of Loreto, deep in the Amazon Rainforest. This beautiful pristine jungle destination is perfect for bird watching. Inside you can see numerous varieties of parrots and the Wattled Curassow, the Amazonian Umbrellabird, and the Great Potoo among others.
FEATURED BIRD: THE MYTHICAL WATTLED CURASSOW
The Wattled Curassow is a large game bird, it has black plumage and a red beak. Males have white underparts while females are chestnuts. It is strongly associated with riparian environments, especially seasonally flooded forests. Also, river islands or any fairly arboreal region is a good place. Currently, it is quite rare to see due to its distribution and the effects of discriminated hunting.
In spite of its great variety, its existence is often considered a myth. They are quite shy about human contact. It is one of the birds considered in danger of extinction. It is estimated that only about 300 birds remain in Peru. One of the best places to spot the bird is the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, right on the shore of the Amazon River.
NEW SPECIES OF PERU
Many of the new species being discovered in Peru are monotonous colored birds. Such as the Tyrant Flycatchers and Tapaculos. Its drab colors are quite difficult to distinguish, making new identifications a challenge. Yet, the discovery of striking or distinctive species suggests that there are still a few discoveries to be made. And it is not surprising, since with the great biodiversity of Peru it is very possible to find new species far from human contact. Some examples are the Orange-throated Tanager (described in 1964), or the Long-whiskered Owlet (1977), or the Scarlet-banded Barbet (2000), or the Cordillera Azul Antbird (2017).
It is very possible that there are still between 30 and 50 new species to be discovered in Peru. Perhaps the majority in regions of not very easy access. So visiting Peru is ideal if you feel like a fan of the wonderful birds. And getting off the beaten track is not so necessary to spot many of the described species.
“IN ORDER TO SEE BIRDS IT IS NECESSARY TO BECOME A PART OF THE SILENCE.”
Wonderful destinations for bird watching abound in Peru. In some of these places, you can see some of the most impressive and interesting birds. And with great biodiversity, the Andean country is one of the best destinations to enjoy bird watching. We hope together with our colleagues from Machu Travel Peru to have been helpful. If you want to know more about our sighting tours, you can consult with our advisors. Our qualified team will be happy to help you a little to fulfill the trip of your dreams. With our years of experience, we know very well how to make your time magical.