Birds of Machu Picchu Classification

Birds of Machu Picchu Classification – Amazon Birds in Peru

The vast South American continent contains almost one third of all bird species (approximately 3000 plus), as well as a wide variety of families and species of endemic birds. Thanks to its great habitat diversity, Peru is one of the countries with the largest number of bird species (approximately 1,800).). The Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, one of Peru’s protected natural areas, harbors within its 32,590 hectares a total of 406 species of birds, and a further forty species may also exist within its boundaries. Consequently, this area of great history and archaeological appeal has also become an obligatory stopover for ornithologists and birdwatchers – birds of machu picchu and cusco region.

Frequent publications on this site, and the recent discoveries of new bird species within its confines, have contributed to its importance, making it even more attractive from an ornithological point of view birds of machu picchu amazon. This book aims to disseminate knowledge of the avifauna of the Sanctuary, making it available to a wider public, and facilitating the identification of birds in the wild. The texts are written in an easy-to-read manner, and provide details of morphology, plumage, vocalizations and habit preferences. Presenting the visual and acoustic records made by Barry Walker, this work is the result of many years of careful observation in the field, as well as containing data provided by the many other ornithologists who have also worked in the region. Both the illustrations and the scientific review of the text were made by the book’s – field guide to the birds of machu picchu and the cusco region.


The rapid development of the biological Sciences means that taxonomy must be constantly reviewed and updated, a process that frequently results in the nomination of new species and families, and the elimination of others. In 1785, the Swedish naturalist Karl von Linné invented a hierarchical taxonomic system known as binomial nomenclature of the Linnean system, which was the basis for modern taxonomy. Under this system, each organism is named with two words: the first corresponds to the genus in which it is placed, and is always capitalized.

The second, written in lowercase, names the species itself. In some cases, species include several geographic forms with very distinctive characteristics that are named separately. This taxonomic category, the subspecies, is included in the scientific name of the animal after the species, resulting in trinomial nomenclature. The old zoological classification of birds was based principally on extemal anatomical features, and categorized all species in four large groups. Climbing birds comprised those species with zygodactyl feet, that is two digits pointing forwards and two backwards. Raptors included all birds of prey, and Gallinaceous birds formed a large group of species which share characteristics with the domestic chicken.

Nowadays, taxonomy takes into account internal anatomy as well as extemal features. Relationships between different species and groups of birds are currently made using data from many sources, such as molecular analyses of DNA and behavioral studies. Besides allowing the identification of sister groups, this information makes possible the reconstruction of Phylogeny, or the evolutionary history of organisms.

The Neotropical region: to which South America belongs, contains a very large number of bird families, 88 of which are represented in Peru with 56 occurring in Machu Picchu. Each family includes several groups of species with shared characteristics, the genera, which include one or more species. According to these international rules of nomenclature, the Inca Wren of Machu Picchu is classified as follows:

  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Genus: Thryothorus
  • Species: eisenmanni


Birds, collectively forming the class Aves within the vertebrates, originated from reptiles during the Second .Geological Period. Their current forms, therefore, are the result of an evolutionary process which began more than 130 million years ago. During evolutionary history, many species poorly adapted to their environments became extinct, while others, which were capable of adapting to new conditions, thrived. Evolution, by definition, is an ongoing process, and extinction can be observed in those new environments created or modified by humans, a process sometimes accelerated by the deliberate extermination of some species. For example, many songbirds (Order Passeriformes: canaries, finches, cotingas,etc.), are becoming adapted to new habitats while others, mostly highly specialized, are disappearing forever as a result of the modification of their environments. The most distinctive feature of all birds is their covering of feathers. Bird feathers replaced reptilian scales, but their function is much more complex.

Despite being the descendants of cold-blooded organisms, birds’ body temperatures range from 38° to 45°C. Feathers help them to maintain a constant body temperature through insulation. Flight, an ability not exclusive to birds, is made possible by their wing feathers, although many birds adapted to particular life-styles have greatly reduced wingspans and are therefore unable to fly. These flightless species move freely through their habitats using other special skills like running, swimming and diving. In general, most of the external features of birds are exquisite adaptations to their life styles: bill shapes, skeleton, length of neck and legs, and plumage coloration, all reveal the evolutionary adjustments made by each species. Birds, like any other kind of living organism, are distributed in a non-random pattern.

Their presence in a particular ecosystem is the result of adaptation to that environment over a period spanning countless generations. Thanks to the great diversity of ecosystems found throughout its territory, Peru harbors approximately 1,800 of the 9,000 known living species of birds. One example of Peru’s astonishing ecological diversity is Machu Picchu, where snow peaks like Salkantay (6,271 m) look down on tall forest (Puente San Miguel, 1,800m). Some 406 species of birds have been recorded within the different life zones of the Sanctuary (according to ONERN there are six life zones in Machu Picchu, while Molleapata [1999] recognizes a total of ten).

Migrations  Birds Machu Picchu:

Sixty percent of the living families of birds have migratory species; that is why some birds are seen at a given area only for short periods of time before disappearing. However, in the lowland tropical forests of the Amazon the number of resident, sedentary species is greater than the number of migrants. Migratory species include North American migrants present in the Neotropics during the boreal winter (October- April), Southern migrants that fly north during the austral winter (March- October), and altitudinal migrants that inhabit the high .Andes during the rainy season and fly to lower elevations during the dry season.

Bird Songs – Birds Machu Picchu:

One of the most fascinating features of birds in general is their song. For birds, singing is a means of acoustic communication, the complexity of which is a subject of study all over the world. During courtship, bird song is usually more melodious and, in general, is emitted during the entire incubation period, usually during the early morning hours and just before sunset. In some families of diurnal birds such as Cracids (Currasows and Guans) and Tinamous, the onset of the reproductive season is marked by nocturnal singing as birds search for a mate. Singing is most common in males, who use it as a means to attract females in order to mate. In addition, it serves to advertise to other males that a territory has been occupied.

During courtship, males also make visual displays, exhibiting their plumage and dancing, combining visual signals with their vocalizations to attract females. As a rule, males have much more striking plumages than females, but in a few species, where females take the lead in courtship, this pattern is reversed. Most bird song is produced by the syrinx, an organ located in the upper part of the larynx, that functions as an amplifier and is controlled by membranes and muscles that modify the notes produced by air flowing from the lungs.

The pitch and tone of a bird’s voice is not always proportional to the size of the animal; some large birds are only capable of producing weak vocalizations, while some small species are able to produce very loud songs. Sometimes the vocalizations are emitted as a bird beats its wings; while some species produce acoustic signals using mechanical sounds made by specialized feathers while the bird flies.

Nests of the Birds Machu Picchu:

A nest is defined as the structure, cavity or hide-out in which birds lay their eggs, incubate them, and brood their chicks. Nests are also used as a roost where the bird sleeps or seeks protection from danger. Birds’ nests take many different forms. Each species has a particular way of building its nest, and its preferred nesting site is determined by its habitat and behavior. Some birds make use of natural cavities, while many others build complex structures following a technique typical to each family. There are floating nests (Gulls, Rails, Grebes), hanging (New World Orioles), attached to surfaces (Hummingbirds, Swifts, Swallows), underground (some Ducks, Wrens Tapaculos), etc. Birds use feathers, hair, dry vegetable matter (leaves, twigs and fibers), as well as many other organic and inorganic materials, to build their nests. In many cases they use tree trunks and branches as a substrate (Parrots, Eagles, Tree Creepers, Toucans, etc.), or some geologic feature, such as ledges, crevices or caves, (Cock of the Rock, Andean Condor, Owls, Eagles, etc.).

Eggs Birds  Machu Picchu:

Just like most reptiles, all birds are oviparous. The number of eggs laid by a bird, as well as their size, shape and color, vary between species. Some birds lay only one egg, but most have a clutch of two, and three to six eggs is the normal clutch of the Tinamous (Tinamidae). Other birds have communal nests where several females lay their eggs, like Rheas, who may lay up to 30 eggs in a single nest. Most birds eggs are oval or elliptical, although parrots (Psittacidae) lay spherical eggs, and those produced by hummingbirds (Trochilidae) are cylindrical. Egg colors vary, from pure white, ivory, pink, green to blue. While some are uniformly colored, others have a variety of speckles, streaks and other patterns of different colors.

Incubation of the Birds  Machu Picchu:

Incubation duties may be undertaken by the male, the female, or shared by both parents, depending on the species, incubation can last from between 11 to 32 days, although some birds have even longer incubation periods. Most birds hatch with their bodies naked, and are very weak and need parental care. They remain in the nest for several days or even weeks until they fledge. These are called nidicolous birds. Other species hatch well developed, with their bodies covered with a dense down, and are very active and capable of following their parents and feeding themselves. The chicks of these species, known as nidifugous, still need some parental care and are brooded, fed, and protected from predators by their parents. Most birds reproduce once every year, usually in the same season, but some can breed several times a year.

Feather Molt – Birds Machu Picchu:

Birds need to replace their feathers periodically. Most species undergo this process once a year, but some others molt more frequently. Feather molt varies among species, and is closely linked to the specific lifestyle of the bird.


Humans value birds in many different ways. First of all, birds are appreciated for their aesthetic value; the beauty of their shapes, plumage, and song. humans have idealized these attributes throughout history through religion, myth, and art. Birds also help humans through the multiple roles they play in nature, such as pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control. In addition, domestic birds are highly appreciated as a source of food (chickens, turkeys, geese, pheasants), while others are used for feathers, or as pets.

Birds can also be sources of other economic benefits, from the guano deposited at some roosts which is used as a fertilizer, to the income from ecotourism generated by the ever- increasing number of bird watchers around the globe. Many of the species that are found within the Machu Picchu Sanctuary are declining due to the destruction or disturbance of their habitats by human activities such as the uncontrolled burning of montane forests.

Some species are now considered threatened or vulnerable (Royal Cinclodes, White-browed Tit Spinetail, Tawny Tit Spinetail, Giant Conebill). It is time to initiate a campaign to protect the fragile ecosystems of the Sanctuary through environmental education designed to help local residents and visitors to contribute to its conservation.