Rainforests Expeditions’ Tambopata Research Centre
Birding in Tambopata
Boasting a species list of over 1,800, including over 120 endemic species, Peru either is or should be on anybody’s destination list who is even vaguely interested in birds. From coastal deserts to high Andes mountains, to the cloud forest, to the extensive lowland Amazon that covers 60% of the country, the range of habitats is immense. Each ecozone in Peru is home to unique birds, and nowhere are the numbers of birds greater than in the lowland Amazon rainforests.
Only a half hour flight from Cusco, Tambopata is mong the most accessible forest birding areas. Each of the rainforest lodges in Southeast Peru typically boasts bird lists of 500+ species. However, birding in the rainforest takes some getting used to. For best viewing experiences, you need a specialist guide, proper equipment and a lot of patience.
No trip to the Tambopata would be complete without an expedition to Colpa Colorada, the world’s largest and most species-rich macaw clay lick. To break the eight hour journey from town to get there, you can spend a night at one of the lodges on the Tambopata River that have a canopy tower, where you can enjoy uninterrupted views over the forest canopy to the foothills of the Andes a hundred kilometers away.
Mixed flocks of tanagers closer to the tower are a delight to the eye; members include Paradise, Green-and-gold, Turquoise and White-shouldered tanagers, accompanied by Green honeycreepers and Blue dacnis. Dusky-headed parakeets and Red-and-green macaws fly past to a nearby claylick, with a wary eye open for raptors such as Crane and Slate-colored hawks or Black and Ornate Hawk-eagles. A touch of luck may bring the majestic Harpy eagle into view as a few nesting sites are known from the surrounding lands of the local Ese-eja native community.
The Tambopata Macaw Project
The Tambopata Macaw Project, led by Dr. Donald Brightsmith, Scientific Director of Rainforest Expeditions, was founded in 1990 and has over the years become one of the world’s foremost studies on wild macaws. Rainforest Expeditions supports the project with complimentary food and lodging for researchers, logistical assistance and funds for researcher salaries.
The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long-term multidisciplinary study of natural history, conservation and management of large macaws and parrots. The main areas of focus include monitoring and observation of macaw nests, increasing survival rates of younger Scarlet Macaw chicks, documenting patterns of clay lick use by large macaws and other parrots, and documenting and understanding the impact of tourism on macaw clay licks.
The Tambopata Research Centre (TRC) is the only tourist lodge at Colpa Colorada, the world’s largest claylick, although camping with other operators is also possible. Home to the Tambopata Macaw Project, the TRC provides a place for researchers to interact with visitors and share their knowledge through frequent presentations on their research. It is a perfect place for first-time and returning to get to know Tambopata, one of the world’s most spectacular avian phenomena.
Clay Licks and Macaw Conservation
The Tambopata Macaw project has been working hard to understand the links between the clay lick, nesting, tree phenology (flowering and fruiting) and the movements of parrots in and out of the area. With over a thousand mornings of clay lick observation and literally hundreds of thousands of entries on these interactions, there is now greater amount of data available than ever before to better understand what drives the annual life cycles of the macaws and parrots in Tambopata.
The research findings have helped provider further insights into the importance of conservation efforts around the area. As the clay licks harbor very large concentrations of parrots, and serve as breeding grounds for many, it is critical that the forest environment be preserved in order to protect the populations of macaws and parrots in wider areas throughout the region.
Because these birds’ habitats are closely interconnected, it is expected that large scale destruction of the forests adjacent to the Tambopata National Reserve and an increase in pet trade resulting from the Trans Oceanic Highway would significantly impact the populations of parrots around Tambopata Research Center and other licks located deep within the reserve.
About Rainforest Expeditions
Rainforest Expeditions operates three award winning Amazon lodges: Posada Amazonas (30 rooms), Refugio Amazonas (24 rooms), and Tambopata Research Center (18 rooms), each offering a wide array of fascinating ecotourism experiencies in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Find Rainforest Expeditions on Ecotourism Explorer