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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 behavior and how they live.

Hyacinth macaws

Hyacinth macaws are the world’s 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, along with deforestation, has devastated hyacinth macaw numbers in the wild. Unfortunately, this is a similar story to other Amazon animals. 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.

Blue Fronted Amazon

Blue Fronted Amazon
Photo by Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

The blue fronted amazon can be identified 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

As the featured image at the top of this article shows, this is the icon of the Amazon Rainforest – photo taken at Peru’s Tambopata Research Center. 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.

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.

Plum Throated Cotinga

Plum Throated Cotinga
Photo by Félix Uribe on Flickr

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.

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.

Oropendolas

Oropendola
Photo by Avi on Flickr

Behaviorally, 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.

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 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.

Jabiru Stork

Jabiru
Photo by Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

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.

Yellow headed Caracara

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.

King Vulture

King Vulture
Photo by Allan Hopkins on Flickr

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 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 assigned 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.

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.

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.

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