The Birds of Machu Picchu

The Birds of Machu Picchu


Peru is a country and culture of many colors. As far as the eye can see, indigenous clothing, flavorful dishes, and lush vegetation adorn landscapes. The winged wildlife is no exception – in Machu Picchu alone, there are estimated to be over 400 species of birds! Even more so, many of these species are endemic to the area – meaning Machu Picchu is the only place in the world where you can see them. You might spot the blue flash of a Rusty Flowerpiercer, or the yellow underbelly of a Thick Billed Euphonia. As you prepare for your trek through the ancient city, take a look through this list so you can keep an eye out for Machu Picchu’s most stunning aviators.

Best Birding Apps Covering Peru and Machu Picchu


If you’re new to birding, the good news is that Audubon is a great place to start with comprehensive global information. The important thing is to simply pay attention. Look for exposed perches and be alert for any movement that seems out of place. Audubon also states that good birders spend up to 90% of their time just listening for the creatures. When packing for your adventure, don’t forget your binoculars and download a good bird identifying app so you can really optimize your bird watching experience.

Birding Apps

Birds of Peru Mobile App

Birds of Peru App (iOS)

Merlin Bird Identification App

Merlin ID App (iOS, Android)

Highly rated birding apps with information on the Andes include the Merlin ID app from Cornell Ornithology or Birds of Peru (iOS). Cornell Ornithology also has their Ebird.org website with a wealth of information on birds around the world. Prefer a physical copy? Try the Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu and the Cusco Region, Peru.

Leave No Trace While Birding Around Machu Picchu


While looking for Machu Picchu’s birds, it’s also important to remember that this is their home, not yours! Following Leave No Trace principles ensures these species and their habitats will be around to admire for years to come. Make sure you stay on established trails and leave the area the same or better than you found it – that means zero trash. Our excellent guides will answer any questions you may have, but if you want to brush up on the best way to leave an environment intact before your trip, check out the Leave No Trace site.

Birds of Prey of Machu Picchu Peru


Andean Condor

Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) - Birds of Machu Picchu PeruThis bird can travel hundreds of miles and spend hours gliding majestically along canyon walls, or above hillsides looking for a carcass to feed himself. Condors have difficulty taking off after eating, due to the great weight taken on during the meal and the bird’s massive size (their wingspan can grow to 10 feet wide!). Because of this, Andean condors live in windy areas like the mountains to help keep them aloft.

 

 

Black-and-Chestnut Eagle

Black and Chestnut Eagle - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Courtesy of ebird.org

 

This is an endangered species, so little is known about the creatures. Juvenile birds are less wary of photographers, so you might be more likely to see them hunting squirrels, monkeys and other smaller birds near the tree line. Female eagles lay a singular egg in nests made from branches collected from flights throughout the cloud forest.

Cotingas of Machu Picchu


Cock of the Rock

Cock of the rock - Birds of Machu Picchu PeruThe male Andean Cock-of-the-rock is an unmistakable (and luckily, near Machu Picchu, a quite common) sight, with brilliant red-orange plumage, black-and-white wings, and a large fan-like crest that almost completely obscures its bill. The Andean Cock-of-the-rock can often be seen around rocky cliffs and ravines close to forest streams. In fact, its genus name, Rupicola, is derived from Latin words meaning rock or cliff inhabiting, a nod to this bird’s preferred nest sites.

 

 

Masked Fruiteater

Masked Fruiteater - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Courtesy of ebird.org

 

Endemic to the area, these stubby green birds forage for fruit among the canopy of montane forests. Thankfully this vibrant species has a conservation status of “least concern,” so there’s a good chance you’ll spot one on your trek. The female masked fruiteater will be entirely green with some subtle yellow on her underside, while the males are known for their black heads and bright patches on the chest.

Hummingbirds of Machu Picchu, Peru


Green and White Hummingbird

green and white hummingbird - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

 

Green above and white below, this mid-sized hummingbird is another species endemic to the Andes. Contrary to the similar white-bellied hummingbird who frequents more open spaces, the green and white hummingbird prefers humid and forested areas. This is another bird very often seen at Machu Picchu, so keep your eye out!

 

 

Gould’s Incas

collared inca hummingbird - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Also known as the Collared Inca Hummingbird, these birds feed on the nectar of the plethora of flowers of trees and shrubs in the Andean forests. They are mostly green with a black head and orange or white collar. In general, Peru has over 118 species of hummingbirds, or colibris, which translates as “Birds of the Sun God.”

Parrots of Machu Picchu Peru


Golden Plumed Parakeet

Golden plumed parrot - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Courtesy of ebird.org

The golden plumed parakeet can be identified by bright orange-yellow behind each of its eyes. You might catch a glimpse of their small noisy flocks floating over the cloud forest. These parakeets build their nests in cavities of wax trees, which are unfortunately at risk. Conservation efforts to rebuild the wax tree, and subsequently golden plumed parakeet populations are in place.

 

 

 

Blue Headed Parrot

Blue headed parrot - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Originally found in the Andean forests, these parrots have become increasingly popular as house pets, as they are more laid back and quieter than other species. They feed on nuts and seeds and are found in humid forested or semi-open areas. Did you know that a parrots’ colorful plumage has a special bacteria-resistant pigment called Psittacofulvins? Only parrots are able to produce this pigment that gives their feathers beautiful red, yellow, and green coloration.

Tanagers of Machu Picchu Peru


Blue and Grey Tanager

gray and blue tanager - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Typically traveling in pairs or small flocks, blue-gray tanagers are found in semi-open areas along forest edges and rivers. They like to eat in the middle and tops of trees, but nest in shrubbery. Their coloring is typically grey, green or purplish-blue, with a shoulder patch of lavender, dark blue or whitish. You’ll almost certainly see these common but beautiful aviators during your trip to Peru.

 

 

 

Parodi’s Hemispingus

Parodi’s Hemispingus - Birds of Machu Picchu Peru

Courtesy of ebirds.org

 

This is a small, olive-yellow tanager with a dingy face. Because of deforestation, this species is listed as “near-threatened.” Similar to its blue-grey family member, these birds are typically found solo or with a small group for foraging for insects in the understory and mid-canopy of the montane forests.

 

 

It’s no question that you will get to enjoy viewing a plethora of vibrant birds on any of our treks – and this list only scratches the surface of species that inhabit the Andean forests! But with just a little bit of extra preparation, you’ll be able to identify them as well. If you capture any stellar photos of our feathered friends, we’d love to see them! Tag us on social media @AlpacaExpeditions. Want to stay up to date on all things Machu Picchu and Alpaca Expeditions? Sign up for our e-mail list here.

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