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Bird Watching In Peru – 10 Surprise Birds, 10 missed birds & 10 common birds
Peru is the home of more than 1800 and more diverse varieties of birds – one-sixth of the planet’s total, including 106 endemics. It is a magnificent neotropical birding destination in South America. Approximately all eco-lodge in the Amazon Basin records over 600 bird species in their property. Ever since I desired to go out for the bird-watching voyage in Peru, I convinced myself that I’ll rewrite about all the various birds that I was worthy of witnessing and the ones I missed. I will recapitulate to write about the lodges that are most convenient for my fellow-travelers; I’ll pen about the animals that I was able to see, and of course, my complete trip.
Honestly, as I prepared for my trip, I couldn’t help but wonder: What are the different birds that will be able to witness? Now that I’m back, let’s see what happened when I touched the ground of Peru.
I’ll categorize this article into 3 sections: surprise birds, missed birds, and the common birds. Now you’ll ask what these categories mean?
First, let’s begin with the common birds. When you travel to Peru you are virtually guaranteed to find these birds as long as you are on the right side of the Andes.
- Variable Hawk: You don’t even have to be on the right side of the Andes, as it occurs on both slopes. Only in the cloud- and rainforests of the east, you won’t find them. With their many morphs and variations, they’ll trick you more than once during your trip for sure.
- Roadside Hawk: When there’s no Variable Hawk around because you’re in the eastern lowlands, at least you can be sure there are Roadside Hawks around. Sometimes you might even see both at the same time as we did in Machu Picchu.
- Puna Ibis: Surprisingly this species was found almost everywhere but in the eastern lowlands. Wet grasslands, rivers, lakes hosted several hundreds of these.
- Sparkling Violet-ear: It even occurs in the eastern lowlands, but here it is less common than in the rest of the country, where it is definitely the most common hummingbird.
- American Kestrel: On our drive from Puno to Chivay there sat one on each telephone pole, but it’s also very common in the rest of the Andes.
- Bar-winged Cinclodes: Even though it is confined to higher altitudes, it is really abundant above 2700m White-browed.
- Kingbird: This bird sits very commonly and conspicuously on telephone wires on both sides of the Andes.
- Blue-and-white Swallow: Found everywhere, except at very high altitudes, where it is replaced by Brown-bellied Swallows.
- Southern House Wren: As long as the habitat is suitable (not dense rainforest) you’ll find it everywhere.
- Rufous-collared Sparrow: If you stop in the middle of nowhere this is often the only bird you’ll find to always be numerous. At least in the Andes and the coast.
These are the birds I missed the most during our trip, so I’m calling them Missed Birds. I’ll exclude species we heard, even though it certainly makes a difference if you hear or see a Crested Quetzal or a Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan.
- Markham’s Storm-Petrel: Standing representatively for all the missed offshore-birds, missed due to the canceled pelagic.
- Horned Screamer: I’d really looked forward to seeing this odd bird, but Pantiacolla just isn’t far enough into the jungle, the habitat’s not right there.
- Harpy Eagle: It was only a remote possibility at Pantiacolla and Amazonia and I didn’t think there were high chances anywhere until I learned there was a nest near Refugio Amazonas Lodge. Would we have changed the itinerary had we known earlier?
- Grey-winged Trumpeter: Pantiacolla is THE place and apparently everybody sees them, but I guess our group was just too big and noisy to have a chance.
- Sunbittern: I had missed this gorgeous bird on many occasions in Ecuador and had really high hopes, but unfortunately we didn’t have any luck.
- Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe: I think we never really tried, which I think is sad, considering we probably came past perfect habitat on several occasions.
- Long-tailed Potoo: There used to be a stakeout near Amazonia Lodge for many years, but it must have been abandoned just recently.
- Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher: Our guide knew exactly where to find them and there was certainly at least one bird that called a single time, but only he heard it. This was probably due to the midday heat.
- Browed Hemispingus: Once easy at Unchog a fire destroyed the spot where it was normally found. Now it has become much more difficult.
- Rufous-backed Inca-Finch: The sun set faster than we could drive from Lago Junin to the Inca-Finch spot near Huanuco.
Last but not the least, Suprise Birds were some of the birds we least expected to see. Here are the ten surprise birds – When you travel to Peru you are virtually guaranteed to find these birds as long as you are on the right side of the Andes.
- Great Tinamou: I had seen pictures of night roosting Great Tinamous and it unquestionably wasn’t impossible that we would find one as well. But 3 different birds? I would never even have dreamt that. It also stands representatively for Undulated and Cinereous Tinamou, which were a very nice surprise too.
- Starred Wood-Quail: That we would hear them seemed fair, but seeing Wood-Quails is absolutely a different thing.
- Silky-tailed Nightjar: Found on our last morning at Amazonia Lodge this poorly known species seems to be an addition to their already huge ‘lodge list’.
- Yellow-crowned Night-Heron: The map in our field guide suggested that they only occur in the far north of Peru, which Lima is definitely not. Even though the text mentions a small population around Lima we hadn’t read that and thus were very surprised to find two birds at Ventanillas.
- Waved Albatros: When the pelagic was canceled I lost hope to see any albatrosses. So my relief was huge when one showed up around the Islas de Ballestas.
- Tawny-throated Dotterel: I had hoped for it at the Lomas de Lachay, but we didn’t find any here, so I wrote that one-off. Then 12 birds appeared in the middle of nowhere in the Andes near Cusco. Not even our guide had ever seen them here, even though he’d already heard about them sometimes occurring in this region.
- Marbled Godwit: This species is kind of a rarity in Peru and the best chances to find one is rather in the northern parts. However, it seems Pisco/Paracas is a quite reliable spot for it too, as a few others have already seen it here too, but of course, we didn’t know that at that point in time.
- Semicollared Hawk: Even our guide with his 1800+ species in Peru claims that he has only seen it once before.
- Barred Forest-Falcon: Maybe seizing a glimpse in the dense cover of the dark rainforest or at least hearing one could be anticipated, but this one sat so fully in the open and showed so well that our guide couldn’t believe it was really this bird.
- Red-masked Parakeet: We found this so far out of range, that it has to belong to a feral community. But even now that I know it exists in Nazca I still haven’t found any information about them occurring here.I hope you enjoyed the list, hope to see you soon on one of my bird-watching trips in Peru or wherever my heart takes me too. Do let me know which birds you were able to see on your trip.
If you liked this article, check out my other article about 17 cutest animals of Peru