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TOP 10 HUMMINGBIRDS OF NORTHERN PERU

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Green Tours - Julio 28, 2018 - 9:10 am

Hummingbirds are tiny, vibrant, often colourful birds, exclusive to the New World. They are in the Trochilidae family, and are closely related to swifts and treeswifts.

Hummingbirds are captivating birds, mainly because of their often spectacular array of plumages. The micro-structure of their feathers gives them their particular iridescence according to the angle the light reflects from them.

Their diet relies mostly on nectar, and the males use to defend feeding territories with rich nectar sources like clumps of tubular flowers. This characteristic makes it easy to attract them to feeders, thus several feeding stations have been installed all across the Americas, facilitating to joy of watching the beauty of this wonderful creatures. Hummingbird feeders usually attract several species, for instance, up to 21 hummingbird species have been recorded at the hummingbird feeders of Arena Blanca Reserve, in northern Peru. Also, the hummingbird stations also favour hummingbird photography, allowing photographers to get close enough to the birds in order to get that “perfect shot”.

Northern Peru is a paradise for hummingbird lovers, where more than 50 species of hummingbirds can be seen in a regular 12 days tour between cities of Tarapoto, Moyobamba, the Marañon valley, and the Abra Patricia area; most of them while visiting the hummingbird feeding stations, but also in open areas along the roads and trails usually visited by our Green Tours birding trips.

In this post we wanted to show you the 10 most impressive hummingbird species that are possible to see by taking some of the Green Tours birding trips to northern Peru:

 

Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis)

Amethyst-throated Sunangel

A fairly common hummingbird of the humid mountain forests of Amazonas and San Martin departments. Males are green with throat and upper breast rosy amethyst, forming a glittering gorget (throat of females typically dull rufous-brown), and glittering green frontlet. Both sexes present white collar.

In northern Peru this species can be seen at hummingbird feeders in Huembo reserve, Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge, and Fundo Alto Nieva. It’s also common along the road from Leymebamba to Cajamarca, and along the Río Chido road. Our Mayo and Huallaga valleys birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Purple-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus viola)


Larger than most sunangels. Has a forked tail, dark plumage, green upperparts with a glittering blue-green frontlet. The highly iridescent gorget is deep violet and bordered below by a blue-green pectoral bar. Found at forest edge, alder woodland, and scrubby areas.

Currently does not come to any hummingbird feeding station in northern Peru. Can be found in the eastern slope of the Marañon valley between Leymebamba and Cajamarca; above Leymebamba; and near of the city of Cajamarca on the west side of the El Gavilán mountain pass. Our Endemics Paradise birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Royal Sunangel (Heliangelus regalis). Endangered.

Royal Sunangel - Green Tours Peru

Restricted range species of mountains of northeast Peru and extreme south Ecuador. Patchily distributed in the departments of San Martin, Cajamarca, and Amazonas. Male is uniformly dark blue, the long and deeply forked tail is also dark metallic blue. Females have buffy-brown underparts and whitish buff collar, looking more like a typical sunangel.

Usually found in xeric habitat consisting of grassland with mossy stunted forest with a canopy height of c. 4 m, stunted lichen-covered bushes, ericaceous plants, succulents and bracken ferns, adjacent to dry savanna-like areas on the one hand, and taller humid elfin forest on the other. Due to its restricted range and rather unusual habitat the species is sensitive to habitat fragmentation and destruction; large areas have been deforested recently.

Can be seen at the Fundo Alto Nieva hummingbird feeders, in the Amazonas department. Also, uncommon along the road below Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge. Our North Peru Bird photography tour is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Coppery Metaltail (Metallura theresiae)

Endemic to Peru. Fairly common hummingbird of the elfin forest and shrubby paramo of the Amazonas department. Has shining coppery-red reflections on the head; upperparts and underparts are olive-bronze; throat patch is bright, shining green. Female is similar to male but duller throat patch.

Prefers open glades with Melastomataceae and Ericaceae shrubs in humid dwarf and elfin forest.

Does not come to any hummingbird feeders. Can be found at high elevations along the road between Leymebamba and the Río Marañon valley. Our Endemics Paradise birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Booted Racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii)

Booted Rackettail - Green Tours Peru

Uncommon hummingbird of the humid mountain forests of Amazonas and San Martin departments. Males have extended outer rectrices that give its common name to the species. Males are shining green all over, with a metallic green gorget. Females are green above, with green-spotted white underparts. Sub-species peruanus (which occur in north Peru) has rufous leg puffs (both males and females) and the outer rectrices are long, straight, and do not cross each other.

The species is a frequent visitor of the hummingbird feeders at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge, Fundo Alto Nieva, and La Llanteria (El Afluente). Our 50+ Hummingbirds tour is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Emerald-bellied Puffleg (Eriocnemis aline)

Emerald-bellied Puffleg - Green Tours Peru

Uncommon hummingbird of the east slope of the Andes. Found in the interior of humid mountain forests of Amazonas and San Martin in northern Peru. A small puffleg with large white leg puffs. Dark shining green and a white breast patch, more or less spotted with green discs.

Distribution rather local; one reason for this might be habitat loss, since the species seems to depend on humid forests which have already suffered heavy damage, and are currently under threat of further deforestation.

Can be seen at the hummingbird feeders in the Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge. Our Mayo and Huallaga valleys birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Grey-bellied Comet (Taphrolesbia griseiventris). Endangered.

Grey-bellied Comet - Green Tours Peru

Endemic to Peru. Rare and local in montane scrub in Cajamarca and Ancash. A medium sized hummingbird, with upperparts bronzy-green, post-ocular spot white; underparts pale grey with iridescent blue throat patch; tail long, deeply forked, bottle green to golden-orange at tips of rectrices. Female similar to male but lacks blue throat; tail shorter and less forked.

The only accessible place known to see this species is the Chonta valley, near the city of Cajamarca. Our Endemics Paradise birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Koepcke’s Hermit (Phaethornis koepckeae)

Koepcke's Hermit - Green Tours Peru

Endemic to Peru. Medium sized hermit with dark green upperparts and a brown and orange throat and underparts. Has white-tipped central tail feathers. Found in the understory of upper tropical forests. Currently considered Near Threatened.

The most reliable place to see this hummingbird in northern Peru is at the hummingbird feeders of the ACONABIKH reserve, near the city of Tarapoto. Our Mayo and Huallaga valleys birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis). Endangered.

Marvelous Spatuletail - Green Tours Peru

Photo by Carlos Calle

Endemic to Peru. Distribution range restricted to the Utcubamba valley, in the Amazonas department. This impressive hummingbird is named after the pair of elongated undertail-coverts; with modified outer feathers reduced to shafts, curved, crossing each other, terminating in two purplish-black racquets called “spatules”. These spatules dance and flutter around the bird during his gallant courtship flight. Males have glittering blue crown and green gorget, and a central black stripe on the white belly. Females are white below, speckled with green; have shorter, dulled tails.

Adult males are particularly scarce partly because they are targeted by local hunters. Preferred habitat of mountains forests and scrub is under severe threat due mainly to destruction for firewood, together with the spread of slash-and-burn agriculture and increased incursions by grazing cattle.

This marvelous hummingbird species can be seen at the hummingbird feeders in Huembo reserve. Our Endemics Paradise birding itinerary is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

Wire-crested Thorntail (Wire-crested Thorntail)

Wire-crested Thorntail - Green Tours Peru

Rare hummingbird of the canopy of humid mountain forests east of the Andes. In northern Peru can be found in the Amazonas and San Martin departments.

Male has a remarkable narrow, black crest; with a few crown feathers greatly extended as wire-like filaments. The outer rectrices are also elongated, with successive feathers towards the center of the tail becoming shorter, giving a deeply forked appearance to the tail. Males are mostly metallic green with black breast. Females lack the long crests, and have short tails; also show a white malar patch.

The preferred habitat of the species is under rapid deforestation, and the birds are likely suffering a significant population reduction, hence it is listing as Near Threatened.

The most reliable place to see this species in northern Peru is at the hummingbird feeders of Arena Blanca reserve, in San Martin. Our 50+ Hummingbirds tour is perfect for people looking for this species.

 

References

Fodge, M.; M. Taylor; and S. L. Williamson. (2014). Hummingbirds. A Life-size Guide to Every Species. Harper Desing, New York.

Heindl, M. & Boesman, P. (2018). Coppery Metaltail (Metallura theresiae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55614 on 27 July 2018).

Heynen, I. & Boesman, P. (2018). Emerald-bellied Puffleg (Eriocnemis aline). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55595 on 27 July 2018).

Heynen, I. & Boesman, P. (2018). Purple-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus viola). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55581 on 27 July 2018).

Heynen, I., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55577 on 27 July 2018).

Heynen, I., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Royal Sunangel (Heliangelus regalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55582 on 27 July 2018).

Hinkelmann, C. & Boesman, P. (2018). Koepcke’s Hermit (Phaethornis koepckeae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55362 on 27 July 2018)

J. N. M. Flanagan. (2014). The Northern Peru Birding Route. Universidad Cientifica del Sur, Lima.

Schuchmann, K.L. & Boesman, P. (2018). Booted Racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55601 on 27 July 2018).

Schulenberg, T. S.; D. F. Stotz; D. F. Lane; J. P. O’Neill, and T. A. Parker III (2010). Birds of Peru. Revised and Updated Edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Züchner, T. & Boesman, P. (2018). Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55635 on 28 July 2018).

Züchner, T. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Wire-crested Thorntail (Discosura popelairii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55428 on 28 July 2018).

Züchner, T., de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2018). Grey-bellied Comet (Taphrolesbia griseiventris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55625 on 27 July 2018).