Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birding Rally Challenge Perú 2012 - Part 3

Curl-crested Aracari

In this third installment of what is now shaping up to be a four part travelogue, I'll show some more birds from the Amazonian rain forest in Madre de Dios, Peru. I'll leave the Machu Picchu birds and scenery for a final post in this series.

I was in Peru a couple of weeks ago to cover the Birding Rally Challenge, a competition between ace birders from all over the world to find as many birds as possible in one of the birdiest countries in the world.

The bird at the top is a Curl-crested Aracari, a medium-sized toucan found in the Amazon Basin. It is considered uncommon throughout its range (eastern Peru, southwestern Brazil, northwestern Bolivia), and the Tambopata Reserve in Madre de Dios is one of the better locations for observing this wonderful bird. We saw it on Inkaterra's Canopy Walkway, a set of hanging bridges at 25 m above the ground that offer an eye-level view of mature rain forest canopy. 

Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant
Another cool bird we saw there was Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, a bird the size and shape of a ping pong ball. Its tiny wings carried it on short, buzzy, insect-like flights through the canopy.

Black-fronted Nunbird
Black-fronted Nunbird is more easily observed in the Amazon Basin, and generally found at lower strata in the forest. 

Also easily observed - but none the less spectacular for it - are Hoatzins. Taxonomically, this is one of the best studied but least understood of all birds; its phylogenetic relationship to other birds are still not clear. We found them in small colonies throughout the area, including at Lake Sandoval. They're sometimes considered the arboreal equivalent of cows; they spend a lot of time feeding on plant matter, and possess an extended crop that pre-processes food in much the same way as the compartments in a cow's stomach do. 

Red-bellied Macaws
Parrots are easily one of the most charismatic avian families found in the tropics, and the Tambopata Reserve holds many different species. Each day we saw multiple species, including Scarlet Macaw, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, White-bellied Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, and others.

Pale-legged Hornero
Pale-legged Horneros are one of the most common furnarids in the Amazon. We observed this individual building its nest with river mud.

Black-capped Squirrel Monkey
Black-capped Squirrel Monkeys are very cute. We saw them occasionally moving through the forest, or, as shown here, feeding. 

The next and last installment in this series documenting the Birding Rally Challenge in Peru will take us to Peru's number one tourist destination: Machu Picchu. Birders that have visited there know that the place is also an excellent birding destination.

1 comment:

Pat O'Donnell said...

Just found your blog, looks very cool. Great shots of Amazonian canopy birds, especially the pygmiest of pygmy-tyrants! Let me know if you ever come down to Costa Rica, I also hope to make it up to Honduras some day.