Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu

Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu – Amazon Birds


An Introduction to the Machu Picchu Area Amazon Bird The eastern slope of the Andes towards the Amazon Basin ¡s the biologically richest area on earth. The lowland forests near the foot of the Andes rank highest in terms of the number of species that can be found in one place (point diversity), but the slopes of the Andes are richer in terms of species turnover over a more extensive area (landscape diversity). More than 1000 bird species can be found along a 200km transect from the western edge of the Amazon floodplain to the eastern Andean ridge-top, a figure comparable to the number of species known to exist throughout the entire Amazon rainforest floodplain of five million square kilometers. As we ascend the Andes, the most important environmental variable affecting vegetation and bird-life is the drop in temperature of 0.6°C every 100 m (this change can be locally moderated in places like Machu Picchu, birds on the transition to warm rain-shadow valleys). As humid air rises up from the Amazon lowlands Manu rainforest and is cooled, the terrain becomes wrapped in clouds for much of the time. Although the period from May to September is relatively dry, the interior of the cloud-forest above 2500 m remains cool and moist in the amazon rainforest – bird watching binoculars .

In contrast, the barren areas well above 4000 m are subject to extreme variations, from intense solar heat during the day to biting frost by night. As we ascend from the lowlands, the forest structure changes quite markedly at 2000 – 2500 m, from relatively tall (20-30 m) pre-montane forest to low montane forest – birding binoculars. In the lower zone, the tree-trunks are often straight and smooth, and a characteristic feature is the presence of fast-growing pioneer trees with large silvery leaves: Cecropias. The montane cloud-forest, on the other hand, is low and often impenetrably dense, with gnarled trees, and abundant epiphytes – moss, ferns, orchids and large ‘fountains’ of bromeliad leaves. A variety of colorful tanagers are seen, often in mixed-species flocks, while the more dull-colored birds of the forest under-story and of the bamboo thickets most often reveal themselves by their voices. The upper cloud-forest is also known as, and characterized by, elfin forest. It is draped with lichens, and the foliage often consists of dense, small, leathery leaves. Similar sclerophyllous forests can also be found in places with persistent mist formation on adjacent rain-shadow slopes – amazon rainforest animals birds – amazon rainforest birds list.

The foliage of these trees condenses moisture in the form of the fine droplets that comprise the mist. In this way, these forests serve an immensely important role as a source of water in the montane basins during the dry season – the amazon rainforest birds. Above 3800 m the forest is composed mostly of one kind of tree, Polylepis, a species characterized by its small leaves and finely-laminated red bark. The birds of these forests are modest in color, but count among their number some of the rarest of Andean species. Unfortunately, most of the terrain at these altitudes is treeless due to frequent burning, overgrazing and the lack of forest regeneration – amazon rainforest birds and animals.

The humid highlands, known as ‘paramo’, have a spongy vegetation of mosses, tail grass and low shrubs, while the drier parts of the highland consist of a monotonous bunchgrass vegetation (‘puna’). Above 4400 m the vegetation becomes very sparse, mostly prostrate rosettes and cushion-plants adapted to tolerate the intense radiation from the sun, frost and snow. Glaciers are limited today to areas above 5000 meters – amazon rainforest birds pictures. Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains are renowned for their numerous endemic and near-endemic species of birds, plants and other organisms (by endemics, we mean species which exist nowhere else). This fact may be due to the special landscape features of the area. While most parts of the east Andean slope incline more or less directly towards the lowlands, the area between Paucartambo and the Ene/Apurímac River forms a large fan of projecting mountain ridges separated by deep valleys – amazon tropical rainforest birds.

Thus, Birds Machu Picchu overlooks the valley between the Cordillera Vilcanota (which boasts several peaks of around 5700 m) and the Cordillera Vilcabamba (with peaks reaching to well above 6000 m). An analysis of ten years of data from meteorological satellites reveals that the mountain ridges offer efficient protection against the impact of cold south polar winds (‘friajes’) (Fields et al. 1999). Presently identified, in the Southern part of the tropics, with short spells of cold winter weather, and with hail and snow on the Andean slopes, these winds may have been a major cause of vegetation change in South America during the glacial periods (Servant et al. 1993) – birds of the amazon rainforest.

Throughout the tropical Andes, the highest concentrations of endemic birds correspond to places that are ecologically predictable (Fields et al. 1999) amazon rainforest bird. This suggests that endemic species represent relict populations which could survive periods of climatic instability only in places which were well protected against extreme weather. By retaining relict populations, these more sheltered places played a key role in the evolution of Andean avifauna. Local aggregates of endemic birds are often immediately adjacent to densely-populated areas and centers of past high cultures. Special local conditions protecting relict species through periods of environmental upheaval may also have helped to facilitate human life in the Andes – amazon rainforest bird sounds.

Crop predictability may have been a major prerequisite for the transition from a life as hunter-gatherers to sedentary farming systems, and for subsequent technological advances in agriculture. The pattern of human settlement ¡s also affected by the development of fertile soils on the transition zone between humid and rain-shadow areas, where there is a balance between soil leaching and evaporation. Machu Picchu marks the gateway between the humid lower Urubamba basin and the benign Vilcanota valley, which was the center of the Inca culture’s great empire. It is probably no coincidence that some of the rarest .Andean birds live in the small patches of forest that surround the more inaccessible ancient ruins and terraces of the Vilcanota valley. So far, these relationships have been overlooked by conservator biologists. In the future, one of the main challenges for conservationists will be how bio-diversity can be maintained in areas adjacent to dense rural populations – amazon rainforest bird names.


Being steep and inaccessible, much of the Andean cloud-forest zone is virtually uninhabited. However, this does not mean that the forest is undisturbed. In fact, the slopes are often scarred by small or large landslides, which give rise to a natural succession of bushy growth and bamboo thickets. High precipitation and frequent habitat disturbance of this kind help to maintain a high biological diversity. The cloud-forest is not suited to agriculture. It is wet, cool, and steep, and its shallow soils are rapidly washed away when the earth is exposed by deforestation – amazon rainforest bird list.

Fields Guide of Birds Machu Picchu can usually only be cultivated for a couple of years, before being left fallow for several years in order to regenerate. A modest human habitat clearing is not very different in effect from the natural disturbance of landslides. However as new roads facilitate colonization large areas are transformed into pasture and dense low shrubbery known as ‘purma’, as seen throughout large tracts of the Vilcabamba valley. The most drastic habitat transformation in the Andes seems to have taken place thousands of years ago, in the highlands and montane basins. Studies of plant remains in lake sediments near for example, suggest that the area was totally deforested and severely degraded some 1000 – 4000 years ago (Chepstow- Lusty et al. 1998) – amazon rainforest hummingbird.

Subsequently, agro- forestry systems were apparently introduced by the Incas, and the area was brought onto a sustainable footing again until their land management systems were destroyed by the Spanish conquest. Today, most of the Cuzco area is severely degraded. The highlands are severely affected by the frequent burning used to maintain pasture for sheep and cattle, and some areas seem to be burned for no obvious purpose. Currently, the tree line is located several hundred meters below its natural level, and the natural vegetation of bushy transitory forest has almost disappeared. Today, natural tree-line habitats exist in very few places in the Andes, such as in the almost inaccessible northern branch of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, 70 – 100 km northwest of Machu Picchu. It has been estimated that less than 1 % of the potential cover of Polylepis forest remains still on the humid eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes. Conceded conservator efforts are urgently needed ¡n this zone (Fjeldsá & Kessler 1996) – amazon rainforest hummingbird.


As the conservation of key areas for biodiversity ¡s often brought into conflict with poverty-driven pressures on nature or with national development strategies, it is essential to establish a balance between conservation and land development wherever possible. Whether we choose to protect biodiversity in a network of reserves, or by encouraging better land-use, an informed approach is needed. There are two principal ways to achieve this: The Eco region approach, for example, (Diner stein et al. 1997) has been used to ¡identify large zones of general conservation concern in South America – field guide to the birds of machu picchu and the cusco region.

However, subtle patterns, such as the local aggregate of endemic species near Machu Picchu, are overlooked by this approach. The alternative is ‘the hard way’ through the compiling of the hundreds of thousands of distributional records that exist in museums, publications, reports and archives, like the work done in recent years at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen (Fields & Rahbek 1997, 1999). Birds form the group most suited to this task, as they have been classified – field guide to the birds of machu picchu and the cusco region peru.

Chesnut – Collared Swift  : The variation in species richness of birds (in a 1° grid) in Peru and adjacent territories. The eastern forelands and slopes of the tropical Andes region are, ornithological speaking, the richest areas in the world, with the highest number of species found at the equator, although almost equal numbers are found in Cuzco and in northern Bolivia. The threatened species are more locally aggregated in the Andes, with large concentrations in northern Peru and in the Cuzco region. Conservationists often rank areas by numbers of species – field guide birds machu picchu.

However, this focus is not necessarily the best way of reducing the rate of species extinction. if we decide to protect the 50 most species-rich 10 areas in South America, these areas would contain altogether 77% of all the bird species found on the continent. However, many of the species would be redundantly present in numerous cells, and only 40% of those species actually threatened would be covered – birdwatching machu picchu amazon. If instead we use Computer algorithms to compare all species distributions, then analyze the pattern of geographical complementarity to identify a minimal number of areas which cover all species, then efficiency is greatly increased. Under such a system, the 50 top-scoring areas in South America would cover 96% of all species and 85% of those which are currently threatened. It would also be possible to make priority analyses of existing reserve networks, and take into account areas where conflicting interests abound – birdwatching machu picchu amazon.

The species that are classified as threatened and near-threatened according to the current criteria of the World Conservation Union (UCN). A minimum set of 28 15′-areas needed to protect all birds of Peru (as part of a complementarity analysis of the distributions of all birds of the tropical Andes region). The Machu Picchu area contained six species which are not covered in any other target area – birdwatching machu picchu amazon. Areas needed for four or five species in Peru are (from the north) in the Huancabamba valley, the Utcubamba/Colán area, around Balsas in the upper Marañón valley, in the Carpish Mountains near Huanuco, in the Lake Junín area, Bosque Zarate above Lima and the Ampay area near Abancay. The other areas are less important. X marks the alternative areas which would be needed if conservation fails or is not feasible in the first 28 areas selected – birdwatching machu picchu amazon.

Shows the Peruvian section of a minimum set for conserving all birds of the Andean region. Each area covers at least one species not covered by any other area of the minimum set. The Machu Picchu conservation area is the only grid cell in the minimum set with Cinclodes aricomae, Leptasthenura xenothorax, Asthenes virgata, Thryothorus eisenmanni, Atlapetes caniceps and Hemispingus parodii. An area in western Cordillera Vilcabamba is essential for conserving Schizoeaca vilcabambae (Atlapetes terborghi) and Scytalopus urubambae (although the latter is also present in the high Southern part of the Machu Picchu conservation area) amazon birds.

The Ampay area covers Glaucidium peruanum (which is also present near Machu Picchu), Synallaxis courseni and as yet unnamed species of Schizoeaca and Scytalopus. Those who planned the existing reserves did not have access to this kind of data. Unfortunately their focus on sparsely populated areas, where there are few conflicting interests, meant a bias towards areas with predominantly widespread species. In many areas, these are redundantly conserved, while some of the rarest and most localized species are left unprotected. Fortunately, the Machu Picchu area was protected because of its archaeological interest, and has become an ornithological safe-haven, as well as conserving many other elements of bio- diversity. As indicated above, the patterns of human settlement in Machu Picchu and the Vilcanota Valley may have been conditioned by the predictable, benign climate of the area, which accounts too for the presence of the many rare and endemic birds found in the area – amazon birds peru.


Royal Cinclodes by amazon birds
Cinclodes aricomae)
Apurímac-Cuzco and, very locally, La Paz
In mature and mossy Polylepis forest.

White-browed Tit-spinetail – Bird Machu  Picchu by amazon birds
(Leptasthenura xenothorax) Apurímac-Cuzco endemic. In mature Polylepis forest.
Kalinowski’s Tinamou
(Nothoprocta kalinowskii)
Only two confirmed records: Tulpo in La
Libertad and Licamachay near Cuzco.
In April 2000 a probable sighting was
Reported from near Tulpo.

Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant
(Anairetes alpinus)
Local in Cordillera Blanca, Apurímac-
Cuzco and La Paz (Bolivia).
Dense Polylepis canopies, usually well
Above 4000 m.

Taczanowski’s Tinamou
(Nothoprocta taczanowskii)
Junín to Puno. Confined to the transitional
Zone between humid slopes and montane
Basins, in mosaics of woodland, pasture
And small fields.

Golden-plumed Parakeet
(Leptosittaca branickii)
Locally from Colombia to Cusco.
In humid montane forest.

Fasciated Tiger-heron
(Tigrisoma fasciatum) Andean.
Rare, along streams in the montane forest.

Andean Condor – Birds Machupicchu .
(Vultur gryphus)
Widespread in the Andes, common in the
South but increasingly rare and local further

Black-and-chestnut Eagle -Birds Machupicchu .
(Oroaetes isidori)
Local in valleys with humid montane forest.

Andean Guan – Bird Machu picchu .
(Penelope montagnii)
Tropical Andes region.
Common locally but almost extirpated in
some parts.

Gray-Breasted Mountain -Toucan  Birds MachuPicchu .
(Andigena hypoglauca)
Eastern Andean slope of Ecuador and
Peru. Rare in most areas.
Tawny Tit-spinetail – Birds Machu Picchu .
(Leptasthenura yanacensis)
Peru and Bolivia.
Local, in Peru only in relatively humid
Polylepis forests.

Line-fronted Canastero – Birds MachuPicchu .
(Asthenes urubambensis)
Local in Peru and Bolivia.
Humid tree-line habitat and Polylepis

Giant Conebill – Birds Machupicchu .
(Oreomanes fraseri)
Southern Colombia to Bolivia.
Local, in Polylepis woodlands.

Tit-like Dacnis -Birds Machu picchu .
(Xenodacnis parina)
Ecuador and Perú.
Very local but abundant in some places,
In mixed Gynoxys-Polylepis woodlands.


IN  MACHUPICCHU BIRDS by amazon birds
Green-and-white Hummingbird  – Birds Machupicchu .
(Amazilia viridicauda)
Pasco, Cuzco.
Humid lower montane shrubbery.

White-tufted Sunbeam -Bird Machu Picchu .
(Aglaeactis castelnaudii)
Central Peruvian Andes.
Semi-humid montane forest and

Scaled Metaltail -Bird Machu Picchu .
(Metallura aeneocauda)
Cuzco to Bolivia.
Humid tree-line shrubbery.

Olivaceous Thornbill -Bird Machu Picchu .
(Chalcostigma olivaceum)
Very local in Perú and adjacent Bolivia.
Humid grassland over 4000 m.

Bearded Mountaineer – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Oreonympha nobilis)
Central Peruvian Andes
Scrubby slopes and canyons in montane

Puna Thistletail -BIrd Machu Picchu .
(Schizoeaca helleri)
Cuzco, Puno and adjacent Bolivia.
Elfin forest and humid tree-line shrubbery.

Marcapata Spinetail – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Cranioleuca marcapatae)
Cuzco. Humid montane shrubbery.

Creamy-crested Spinetail – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Cranioleuca albicapilla)
Central Peruvian Andes.
Semi-humid montane forest and

Rusty-fronted Canastero Bird Machu Picchu .
(Asthenes ottonis)
Central Peruvian Andes.
Bushy slopes in the inter-montane zone.

Junín Canastero – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Asthenes virgata)
Central Peruvian Andes.
Paramo vegetation.

Red-and-white Antpitta -Birds Machu Picchu .
(Grallaria erythroleuca)
Cuzco. Bamboo and thickets ¡n the cloud-

Vilcabamba Tapaculo -Bird Machu Picchu .
(Scytalopus urubambae)
Cordillera Vilcabamba in Cuzco.
Humid tree-line habitat and adjacent grass

Bolivian Tyrannulet – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Zimmerius bolivianus)
Cuzco to Bolivia.
Humid pre-montane forest.

Inca Flycatcher – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Leptopogon taczanowskii)
North Peru to Cuzco.
Humid pre-montane forest.

Fulvous Wren -Bird Machu Picchu .
(Cinnycerthia fulva)
Cuzco to Bolivia.
Humid montane shrubbery.

Inca Wren – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Thryothorus eisenmanni)
Cuzco. Bamboo thickets in humid
Montane forest.

Yellow-scarfed Tanager – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Iridosornis reinhardti)
Northern and Central Perú, south to Cuzco.
Humid montane forest.

Slaty Tanager – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Creurgops dentata)
Cuzco to Bolivia.
Submontane forest.

Parodis Hemispingus – Bird Machu Picchu
(Hemispingus parodii)
Cuzco. Bamboo thickets.

White-browed Conebill – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Conirostrum ferrugineiventre)
Central Peru to Bolivia.
Locally in humid tree-line zone and
Polylepis forests.

Cuzco Brush-finch -Bird Machu Picchu .
(Atiapetes canigenis)
Cuzco. Humid montane shrubbery and
Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch – Bird Machu Picchu .
(Poospiza caesar)
Apurímac and

Index Information for Birds Families of Machu Picchu