My wife and I recently took a tour to northern Peru. The idea of visiting Peru actually came last year when we did a shorter trip to east-central Peru which took us on the well-known Manu Rd. and to some of the lodges along that road. It was a fantastic trip but we encountered some serious rain for about 3 of the 10 days at the Amazonia Lodge. We weren’t disappointed because we know those kinds of things happen but our guide, Saturnino, mentioned to me that northern Peru was the place for some spectacular Peruvian hummers. And when it came time to plan our next trip, we fell back on Satu’s advice and decided to contact him and do it again with him but hit northern Peru this time. I love hummingbirds. The iridescent colors on hummingbirds are mesmerizing. I have a digiscope set-up that I think is perfectly designed to photograph hummingbirds. And now I can say, if you want to photograph hummingbirds, you best visit northern Peru!
One of our destinations was a lodge outside of Moyobamba, San Martin, Peru. The Waqanki Lodge (red marker below) had a great set-up of hummingbird feeders with a multi-level platform so that you could view and photograph hummingbirds that perched middle to upper canopy in the trees. Many species of hummingbird like to perch high up in the canopy.
The Rufous-crested coquette was a hummingbird we observed on our first Peru trip in 2016. We found it at the Amazonia Lodge, but like I said above, we experienced torrential rain for the three days we stayed there. I got some photographs but the light was terrible and in most cases it was raining. I did some research on the internet on this species to learn more about them and came up empty. I found one website that detailed nesting but I’m uncertain on its reliability. Saturnino had told me that the basic biology of many species of birds in Peru was relatively unknown. He mentioned that to me on the Manu Rd. and I could easily see why. Most of the places we visited was impenetrable jungle, a vast tangle of vegetation which in some places you couldn’t see below your waist. I’m a professional biologist, I’ve gone through blackberry bushes and such but the Peruvian jungle or any South American jungle would be a challenge, especially in the mountainous terrain along the Manu Rd. However, for the popularity of this particular hummingbird, it’s surprising to see that very little is known of its biology. They are mostly found in lower elevations and will come to hummingbird feeders. I became a little obsessed with this species. I think they are the embodiment of hummingbird sensory overload. Their crest is a cool orange spike, a truly freakish sight for someone from the eastern United States who typically sees only one species of hummer, the Ruby-throated hummingbird. I got some decent video of a male and uploaded it to YouTube.
The Black-throated Mango was another hummingbird that we observed at the Waqanki Lodge. Apparently this hummingbird can breed throughout the year. They inhabit open country and garden-like situations. This species is also known to migrate but little is known about their movements. Once again, the life history and biology for the Black-throated Mango is mostly lacking. Here’s a photo of male Black-throated Mango.
Another species we observed at the Waqanki Lodge was the Fork-tailed Woodnymph. These hummingbirds inhabit humid forests, shaded plantations, or are found in gardens. They forage on flowers, especially from plants in the Rubiaceae genus, but also come to feeders. Males are notably dark in color and have forked tails, hence the name. The iridescent green and purple colors on this hummer is hypnotic.
I think my next post will be on some of the monkeys we observed. We went for the birds but it was the monkeys that stole the show on several occasions. My wife is a professor of biology and she teaches mammalogy. She was very excited to see monkeys. Saturnino took us to his lodge, the Manu Birding Lodge, and apparently there was some kind of a major traveling corridor for several species of monkey through his property. His explanation of the frequent sightings of monkeys there was that the elevated river bank acted as a natural barrier and funneled them through the area of the lodge. In addition, he thought the local logging activity might be causing some of the monkeys to move around more than usual. Whatever the case, we were surprised and delighted to see so many different monkeys on our trip.