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Amazon Birds

Amazon Rainforest Birds

The Amazon Rainforest is a birder’s paradise with over 1500 described species of rainforest birds. Amazon Rainforest birds include famous species like the brilliantly coloured scarlet macaws, iconic toucans, and powerful harpy eagles mentioned in the rainforest birds article. Here I present a selection of some well known but also lesser known species with notes about behaviour and how they live.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – The Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth Macaw

  • Hyacinth Macaw
  • Forest Edges
  • Open Woodland
  • 2nd Largest

Hyacinth macaws are the largest flying parrot; there is a larger, flightless parrot in New Zealand named the kakapo. Hyacinth macaws are spectacular Amazon Rainforest parrots with their rich blue plumage combined with a bright yellow chin and eye patch. Hyacinths are armed with a strong and robust gun-metal grey beak for crushing their food of hard palm nuts. As mentioned in the rainforest birds article, they are severely hunted for the pet trade, which has caused a plummet of hyacinth macaws in the wild. You can still see hyacinth macaws in certain areas of the Amazon and Pantanal. They prefer semi-open forest or forest edges and generally stay away from the dense rainforest interior. Seeing these outstanding birds free should entrench the importance of conservation.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Blue Fronted Amazon

The blue fronted amazon can be identifed by a yellow face and a blue patch on their foreheads. Their body is covered with a light green plumage, a yellow patch on their shoulders, and a red patch at the bottom of their wings. Blue fronted amazons flock in great numbers at regular night-time roosting sites. These sites can get very loud, but the birds are often quiet while feeding and resting.

Scarlet Macaw

amazon rainforest birds, scarlet macaw

  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Bright Plumage
  • Large Macaw
  • Amazon Icon

This is the icon of the Amazon Rainforest. Scarlet Macaws are a predominantly red, large macaw with stripes of blue and yellow across their feathers. They feed on nuts, seeds, and fruit, and range from Central America down to the Bolivian Amazon.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Spectacled Owl

Spectacled owls are a common species in the neotropics. They prefer dense rainforest but are also found in plantations and the edge of woodland. They have a more relaxed method of hunting than other owls. Instead of searching in the night sky, spectacled owls sit on a perch and scout for prey.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Plum Throated Cotinga

Plum Throated Cotinga

  • Cotinga
  • Diverse Colours
  • Bright Plumage

Cotingas include many different looking rainforest birds e.g. the bright red national bird of Peru, the cock of the rock. With its bright blue plumage, plum throated cotingas contrast the cock of the rock in appearance. They live in tropical and subtropical lowland rainforest feeding on fruit and insects.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Crimson Topaz

The crimson topaz is a fantastically coloured bird. Their body has an iridescent purple and gold plumage with long black, crossing tail feathers. They are a large hummingbird that feeds on different rainforest flowers.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Oropendolas

Crested Oropendola

  • Oropendola
  • Wasp Mutualists
  • Hanging Nests
  • Colonies

Behaviourally, oropendolas are a very interesting bird. They make long hanging nests which may provide protection from snakes. They nest in colonies and are a common bird in the Amazon Rainforest. The crested oropendola is highly noticeable with a pitch-plack plumage and contrasting bright yellow beak and tail feathers, but their rasping call is their most noticeable feature.

Oropendola's Nests

  • Hanging Nests
  • Parasite Protection
  • Near Wasps

The birds feel their hanging nests aren’t enough to protect their young, as they often nest around highly dangerous wasps. The wasps offer protection from parasitic species e.g. cowbirds, which lay their eggs in the nests of others. This protection is justified as these parasitic birds often kill the nestlings and force the host-bird to care for their young.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Amazon Kingfisher

amazon rainforest birds, amazon kingfisher

  • Amazon Kingfisher
  • Eats Aquatic Prey
  • Large Kingfisher

Amazon Kingfishers range from Mexico to Argentina and mainly occur in lowland regions avoiding the Andes. They feed on aquatic prey like fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans nesting in holes made in riverbanks.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Yellow headed Caracara

Yellow Headed Caracara

  • Caracara
  • Bird of Prey
  • Scavanger

The yellow headed caracara is a tropical and subtropical bird of prey. Unlike its falcon relatives, it’s not the best aerial hunter. They spends much of their time walking on the ground scavenging for prey. They have a diverse diet including carrion, nestlings, eggs, chicks, insects and frogs. On agricultural land, they feed off ticks found on cattle. They are frequently seen in cities feeding on road kill.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – King Vulture

amazon rainforest birds, king vulture

  • King Vulture
  • Largest NW Vulture
  • Scavenger
  • Carnivore

This is the largest Vulture species of the New World and lives in the lowland forests of Central and South America. King Vultures have a colourful head with patches of red fading to yellow and a white and black body. These birds are the dominant avian scavangers on a carcass and scare off smaller species.

Amazon Rainforest Birds – Jabiru Stork

amazon rainforest birds, jabiru stork

  • Jabiru Stork
  • Tall Bird
  • Opportunist
  • Large Wingspan

The Jabiru is the tallest flying bird in the Americas, at its most common in the Pantanal wetlands. They feed mainly on aquatic animals like fish, amphibians, and molluscs, but they will eat other prey if the opportunity arises.

Amazon Rainforest Birding Tours

Located in northern Peru in western Amazon Rainforest, you can find the Tahuayo Lodge. This is one of the top Amazon Rainforest tours in Peru where you will explore the avian diversity of the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve. Staying at the Tahuayo Lodge, you will be asigned a private guide to search for some of the reserve’s 540 bird species. We have compiled a bird list of the park’s avian diversity.

  • what lodge amazon rainforest

    Eight Days

    Tahuayo Lodge Iquitos, Peru

    You can visit the highly regarded Tahuayo Lodge & Amazon Research Center as part of this tour of the bio-diverse Tahuayo Reserve. You are assigned a private guide & you can choose an itinerary to reflect your interests. Boasting the most itinerary options in Amazonia, you can whiz through the trees on the canopy zipline, view poison dart frog initiatives, & observe different monkeys on the A.R.C primate research grid.
    Private Guide, Zipline, Primate Research Grid

For southern Peru, the birding opportunities in the Tambopata National Reserve are spectacular. You can get the best perspective at one of the Amazon’s most remote lodges, the Tambopata Research Center where you will be assigned a professional birding guide to escort you on your adventure.

  • tambopata research center, puerto maldonado

    Nine Days:

    Tambopata Research Center Puerto Maldonado, Peru

    Birdwatching Program | 9D / 8N
    Receive a professional birding guide as you explore one of the Amazon’s most remote lodges, the Tambopata Research Center. You will visit clay licks and experience a multitude of birding habitats. You will hike many trails through the Amazon to find some of the elusive Amazon species. Tour for self-proven and hardcore bird watchers.

  • posada amazonas lodge, puerto maldonado

    Five Days:

    Posada Amazonas Lodge Puerto Maldonado, Peru

    Birdwatching Program | 5D / 4N
    Despite its close proximity to Puerto Maldonado, the wildlife around the lodge is astonishing. You will visit the canopy tower to observe parrots and toucans, visit the clay licks to see macaws, and explore many different birding habitats. You are assigned a professional birding guide to see a diverse set of species.

  • tambopata research center, puerto maldonado

    Seven Days:

    Tambopata Research Center Puerto Maldonado, Peru

    Parrot Lovers Program | 7D / 6N
    At this working macaw research center, you will gain a researcher’s eye view of Scarlet, Blue-wing and Green-wing Macaws. You can indulge your birding passion at one of the largest macaw clay licks, parakeet clay licks and canopy tower where you can spot some of the Tambopata’s seven toucan species. Get exclusive looks at the macaw nest boxes and listen in on macaw research seminars.


Books on Wildlife

Here is a selection of good books and guides on wildlife to help you learn more about animals and plants in their natural environment.

Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card has a BSc in Biology, an MSc in Zoology & a love of nature, travel & conservation. In nature, he enjoys the small dramas that are being played out all around us, such as a parasitic wasp hunting its prey while we walk past unaware.

Photography: Contact Björn Adolfsson

Related Articles
1. Where to stay in the Amazon Rainforest
2. Best time to visit the Amazon Rainforest
3. Why are rainforests so diverse?
4. Amazon Rainforest Guide

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