Machu Picchu is home to some of the most fascinating species of birds in the world. From majestic Andean condors to colorful hummingbirds. These birds are a sight to behold and an integral part of the ecosystem in this ancient Incan city. In this article, we will explore some of the most interesting bird species that reside in Machu Picchu and learn about their unique behaviors and adaptations.
According the researchers are around 443 species of birds in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. The diverse habitats found in the region, including cloud forest, subtropical forest, and high altitude grasslands, provide a unique ecosystem that supports a wide variety of birds.
There are 20 endemic birds in the Sanctuary distributed in the different habitats.
The area is known for its high biodiversity, with many bird species found only in the Andes mountains of South America. Some of the bird species that can be found at Machu Picchu include the Andean cock-of-the-rock, Inca jay, chestnut-breasted crown-crown, Andean condor, white-headed dipper, and many more.
Bird watching and wildlife viewing are popular activities in the Machu Picchu area, and it is a great place to observe many different species of birds.
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus)
The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock is a truly unique species native to the high elevation forests of Machu Picchu. In fact, it’s consider the national bird of Peru! These birds are unmistakable with their bright orange plumage and long wattles. Males also sport a protruding crest and perform spectacularly loud courtship displays designed to attract mates.
Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata)
Another beautiful bird of Machu Picchu is the Torrent Duck. This species is primarily present in montane streams, often standing on small rocks or ledges over fast water. As you might imagine, they are strong flyers and excellent swimmers, making them well adapted to life among the high elevation streams of Machu Picchu. They are easy to distinguish from other ducks due to their unique combination of white eyes, black crest, and yellow bill.
Blue-naped Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia cyanea)
The Blue-naped Chlorophonia is a brightly-colored little bird that you might spot if you’re exploring the cloud forest of Machu Picchu. The males have a striking blue crown and nape, as well as a yellow breast and green back. The females are similar, but with a green crown and nape, and a yellow-green breast. They’re mostly fruit eaters and insects. You might be lucky enough to see them flitting about in the forest canopy. They’re not in the red list of endangered birds.
Andean Motmot (Momotus aequatorialis)
The Andean Motmot is a colorful and unique bird that you might spot if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the cloud forests of Machu Picchu. The males have a bright blue-green head and back, with a green breast and belly. The females are similar but with a green head and back. Their habitat is in humid and subtropical forests, and they feed on a variety of insects and snakes. They are famous for their distinctive tail feathers, which have long, blue-green “rackets” at the end. The Andean Motmot is considered a near-threatened species due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Another quite common bird at Machu Picchu, specifically at “Mandor” (nice private garden) is the Inca Jay. Beautiful and unique bird that you might spot if you’re lucky in the Cloud forests of Machu Picchu. The males have a striking blue-black plumage with a white collar, while the females are a greenish-brown color. They are found in subtropical and temperate forests, and they feed on a variety of fruits, insects and small animals. They are known for their intelligence and their ability to store food in the ground for later use. Inca Jay is considered a least concern species but the population is decreasing due to habitat loss and fragmentation. It’s a fascinating creature to behold!
Masked Fruiteater (Pipreola pulchra)
The Masked Fruiteater is an elusive species of bird endemic to the tropical montane forests of Peru. With its distinctive head and tail plumage, this small bird has a yellow mask-like facial pattern which stands out against its otherwise dark greenish-brown feathers. The Masked Fruiteater is one of the more sought-after species among birdwatchers, who often go on long treks through the dense wet forest in hopes of catching a glimpse of this amazing creature!
Versicolored Barbet (Eubucco versicolor)
Versicolored Barbet is a species of colorful, brightly-plumed bird native to Central and South America. It is a medium size barbet averaging 11–14 cm long with a single long yellow and black striped tail feather which can be double the length of the body when fluffed out. The plumage is mostly green with blue around the eyes and the wings are barred in dark brown. Both sexes are similar in appearance, although males tend to have brighter colored feathers than females. Versicolored Barbers feed mainly on fruits and insects, gleaned from branches or captured on the wing. They are often seen as solitary foragers but will flocks together during migrations or when searching for food amongst larger tree canopy.
Dusky-green Oropendola (Psarocolius atrovirens)
This bird is known for its striking appearance, with males having black feathers and bright yellow eyes, while females have olive-brown feathers with a duller yellow eye. They have a distinctive call that consists of a series of short, sharp notes that gradually increase in volume.
Dusky green oropendolas are social birds and are known for their elaborate hanging nests, which they construct using twigs and fibers. The nests can be over three feet long and are suspended from the branches of tall trees. The nests are often built in colonies, with up to 30 or more nests hanging from a single tree.
These birds primarily feed on fruit, but they also eat insects and small vertebrates. They are an important seed disperser in their habitat, helping to maintain the diversity of the Amazon rainforest. The dusky green oropendola is consider a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its large range and stable population.
In conclusion, Machu Picchu is home to an incredible variety of fascinating birds, each with its own unique features and behaviors. From the beautiful Andean Cock of the rock to the brightly versicolored Barbet, there is something for bird-lovers of all stripes to admire and appreciate. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just a casual observer, taking the time to learn about these birds can deepen your appreciation for the natural beauty and diversity of Machu Picchu. So next time you visit this ancient wonder, be sure to keep an eye out for these 8 fascinating birds. You won’t regret it!