Amazon Birds of Peru – Field Guide

Amazon Birds of Peru – Field Guide


Birds of Peru is being published by John P. O’Neill in 1961, during which time he and his colleagues conducted ornithological explorations and collected bird specimens in some of the remotest parts of Peru. When O’Neill began his work in Peru there were only 1,542 species of birds known from the country – Peru – birdwatching ; today, the number exceeds 1,800 birds of Peru. Newly discovered species of birds, Peru’s avifauna richest of any country on the planet.

This volume, with more than 300 color plates showing all of the species of birds known from Peru through 2004, presents descriptions of birds, distribution maps, and information on the vocalizations of almost all species of birds of Peru.


Peru is one of the richest countries in the world for birds, with 1,800 species. This information turist is a guide to the field identification of all birds recorded in Peru and in offshore waters within 200 nautical miles of the Peruvian coast.

A field guide birds of Peru, can take many forms. We have endeavored to “stick to the basics” and include only free information directly relevant to identification species of birds manu national park.


For each species of birds, we present color figures, species accounts, and with few exceptions a distribution map. We include brief introductions to many (but not all) families, and to some genera or species groups. We use these short accounts to introduce species-rich families, or to summarize information that is similar across a group of related species of birds.

Species Accounts – Birds of Peru Amazon:

  • Each species account begins with English and scientific names of the species of birds.
  • if the species is known in Peru only from sight records, tape recordings, or photographs, but not from a specimen from Peru Amazon.


The length of each species of birds is given in centimeters and in inches. These measurements, representing the length from the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail, are taken from museum specimens and therefore are only an approximation of the size of a live bird. Nonetheless, they provide a useful index to the size of each species and are useful especially for comparing species that are similar in appearance but differ in size. Note that the length will be influenced both by bill length and by tail length; two species can be of similar length but differ in mass (for example, if much of the length measurement of one species is taken up by lightweight feathers from a particularly long tail). For some species we provide additional measurements, such as wingspan (ws) estimates of species more frequently observed in flight (seabirds, raptors) or bill length in hummingbirds.


An asterisk (*) identifies polytypic species, that is, species with recognized geographic variation (two or more subspecies, across the entire distribution of the species). We do not discuss geographic variation in any detail in this guide turist birds of Peru Amazon, except for instances when subspecies of birds are sufficiently different in appearance or in voice that they might be recognizable in the field.


The bulk of each species of birds account is taken up with notes on the relative abundance, habitat, elevational range, and behavior of each species of BirdWatching, and with a description of its voice. Unless noted otherwise, all of our comments refer specifically to that species in Peru. Due to the constraints of the plate-facing format, the text often is terse. We employ a small number of abbreviations:
ca. for “approximately”
cf. for “compare to”
sec for “seconds”
ws for “wingspan”

We also abbreviate the names of months. For some species of birds, especially those with distinctive plumages, we say little or nothing about the bird’s appearance. In other cases, we comment on particular features birds (“field marks”) that may be important for identification for birds of Peru. We may call attention to similar species, with notes on how these differ or a suggestion to read the account of that species of birds amazon. We usually do not repeat distinguishing characters; these will be discussed under one species or the other, but not under both.

A familiarity with standard ornithological terminology for the parts of a bird is helpful in understanding the species accounts birds of Peru.


Relative abundance is a subjective assessment and can vary geographically, but we have tried to present an “average” assessment. Our assessments are based on our experiences with average encounter rates of free-flying birds, within the species-appropriate habitat, elevation, and range. Relative abundances of some species may differ, for a variety of factors, based on other methods of sampling (such as with mist-net capture rates). We use the following terms in ranking relative abundance:

  • Bird Common: Encountered daily, or almost daily, in moderate numbers of birds.
  • Bird Fairly common: Encountered daily or nearly daily in small numbers of birds.
  • Bird Uncommon: Easily can be missed at a site amazon, even during several days of observation, but should be encountered during longer stays of a week or more (BirdWatching).
  • Bird Rare: Residents that are present in such low numbers, or, in the case of migrants, present at such irregular intervals, that they can be missed even in a stay of multiple weeks (Bird Families of Peru).
  • Bird Vagrant: Nonresident; has been recorded once or on only a few occasions beyond the “normal” range; might be expected to occur again, but not with regularity (Birds Families of Peru).

Statements such as “poorly known” or “rare and local” should be interpreted as referring specifically to the status in Peru. The species of birds may be better known, or more common, elsewhere in its distribution families of birds in Peru.


Each species accounts ends with a note as to whether that species is entirely restricted to Peru (“ENDEMIC”) or is known from any of the countries that border Peru (Co, Colombia; E, Ecuador; Br, Brazil; Bo, Bolivia; and Ch, Chile).

Distribution Maps Amazon Birds of Peru:

We map the distribution of the majority of the species of birds reported from Peru. Species of birds whose distributions are not mapped include those reported only from far off the coast, vagrants known from only a few records, and some extremely local species of birds. For widespread species of birds we show all of Peru, including the 24 political departments (fig. 1) and the major rivers (see also fig. 2). Some species of birds are restricted to only a small portion of Peru; when possible we use larger-scale regional maps to show these distributions in greater detail in map Peru.

We use shading to connect areas within which we expect a species of birds will be found, even if there are some apparent gaps in the distribution. The maps are color coded to reflect the seasonal status of each species in Peru (fig. 3).

Because some species may contain populations that are both resident and migratory, this can lead to some complicated distribution maps of birds Peru. Although migration is an important part of the life history of many of Peru’s birds, migration in Peru has not been well studied. Questions remain about the seasonality of some species. In some cases the seasonal pattern of occurrence for a species was unclear, and there is the possibility that some of our assessments may be shown to be incorrect, as Peru’s avifauna becomes better known.

The vast majority of birds in Peru are permanent residents, in part of or all of Peru. In such cases a species remains throughout the year in the same areas where it breeds (although there may be very local movements in the nonbreeding season). Areas where a species is resident are shown in light blue.

A handful of species of birds are breeding residents. They breed in Peru but then depart, either leaving Peru completely (Gray-capped Cuckoo, Snowythroated Kingbird) or vacating the breeding area and migrating to another part of Peru (White-crested Elaenia in part, Slaty Thrush, Black-and-white Tanager). The areas where these species of birds are breeding-season residents are shown in dark blue. The movements away from the breeding grounds represent intratropical migrations, which are discussed below.

Austral migrants are species of birds that breed in temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere from December to February and migrate north during the austral winter. Most such species of bird spend the entire austral winter in Peru, roughly March–October. Arrival and departure periods vary among species of bird and are poorly documented for most species of bird (especially among landbirds). A small number of species (such as Slaty Elaenia) migrate through Peru en route to wintering areas farther north and so are present only for a few weeks each year. There also are species of bird that are known to occur in Peru as austral migrants, but we do not yet know whether they remain through the nonbreeding season or occur only during migration. Species of bird that occur in Peru strictly as austral migrants are mapped in red. We also show in red areas of Peru that are occupied by an austral migrant population, although the same species of bird may be resident elsewhere in the country (e.g., Swainson’s Flycatcher, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee).

In a few cases, such as Tropical Kingbird and Southern Rough-winged Swallow, a resident population is augmented by migrants from farther south. If these migrants are similar (or identical) to the resident population, then migrants can be impossible to recognize as such in the field (except during those rare occasions when a flock is seen clearly in the act of migrating of birds amazon). Therefore, since migrants usually cannot be distinguished from residents, we do not indicate on the map where these austral migrants occur.

We also count as austral migrants some seabirds that breed in southern South America or near Australia and New Zealand. Many of the austral breeding seabirds may occur in Peru year round, in part because many of the individuals that occur in Peru are nonbreeding immatures; however, numbers may noticeably increase during the austral winter.

Overlap of residents and austral migrants becomes more interesting in cases in which the resident and migrant populations belong to different subspecies and can be identified as such in the field. An example of this is Whitewinged Becard in southeastern Peru, where resident males are black and males of a migrant subspecies are largely gray, facilitating recognition in the field. Areas of overlap between identifiably different resident and austral migrant populations are mapped in pink.

Boreal or northern migrants are species of bird that breed in North America and migrate to Peru during the nonbreeding season. Most boreal migrants are present September–April, although some may arrive earlier or depart later. The majority of species spend the entire northern winter in Peru, but a few (e.g., Swainson’s Hawk) may occur primarily as passage migrants that winter farther south. Boreal migrants are mapped in ochre. Very rarely (Red-eyed Vireo) there is seasonal overlap between resident and boreal migrant populations that can be distinguished in the field; this overlap is mapped in green amazon.

Finally, there is an unusual situation in one species (Red-eyed Vireo) where much of Peru is occupied by two different migratory populations: boreal migrants from North America and austral migrants from southern South America. So, although the species of birds may be present year round, it does not breed in most of this region. This unusual seasonal pattern is mapped in orange.

Certain species of birds engage in intratropical migrations. These may be movements east/west across the Andes (e.g., the modesta subspecies of White-crested Elaenia), elevational movements (e.g., Black-and-white Seedeater), migrations from one region of the tropics into another (e.g., the movements into Peru, from northeastern South America, of Lesson’s Seedeater), or postbreeding dispersal by seabirds southward (e.g., Waved Albatross, Galapagos Petrel) or northward (e.g., Peruvian Booby, South American Tern) from breeding areas at tropical latitudes. We map most of these nonbreeding distributions with red (the same color as is used for austral migrants) because the basic timing of these movements resembles that of the austral migrants. The few seabirds (including some coastal gulls and terns) that visit Peru from breeding areas to the north are mapped as northern migrants (with ochre). These birds are typically in Peru mostly during the period September to April.

Guide Plates . Birds of Peru:

We endeavored to illustrate all plumages that can be identified in the field guide, including examples of recognizable geographic variation, seasonal plumages, sexual dimorphism, and various subadult plumages. Inevitably we fell just short of our goal, but nonetheless the vast majority of the plumages shown by birds in Peru are represented.

Typically all figures on a given plate are to the same scale, although the scale may vary from one plate to the next.

In some cases we employ supplemental figures, at smaller scales, to illustrate additional features (such as the appearance of the bird in flight). We assume that the smaller scale used for such images is evident as such.

Abbreviations used on the plates field guide include for amazon birds:

  • ad.                                                   adult
  • juv.                                                  juvenile
  • s-c                                                  south central
  • alt.                                                  alternate
  • nonbr.                                           nonbreeding
  • se                                                   southeast
  • Amaz.                                          Amazonia
  • n                                                     north
  • subad.                                         subadult
  • br.                                                  breeding
  • ne                                                  northeast
  • subsp.                                         subspecies
  • e                                                    east
  • nw                                                northwest
  • var.                                               variation
  • imm.                                            immature
  • pops.                                           populations
  • w                                                   west
  • intermed.                                  intermediate
  • s                                                    south


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