The Big 5 birds of Northern Peru – a biased list according to Chris!

Go to All Blogs | Neotropical Blogs | Peru Birding Tours | All our birding tours

This blog was updated and revised on 12 December 2023, although it was originally written a few years ago (by Chris Lotz).

Please let us know YOUR top 5 by e-mailing [email protected]

Background about our Northern Peru bird tours:

A birding tour is made largely by the guide. A good birding tour leader is the single element that can make a bird tour brilliant, rather than just very good. A good birdwatching tour leader is great with people and also very good at finding birds (including the rare and skulking species). That is why we are so pleased that Eduardo had his 20-year anniversary with Birding Ecotours recently, as he ticks all the boxes so well.  Eduardo lived in Chachapoyas in northern Peru for several years, which conveniently happens to be very close to the legendary (in birding circles) Marvelous Spatuletail site. Eduardo is the person who makes our northern Peru tours so successful. Having lived in the north of his country for a while, he knows the area more intimately than most birding guides. And he has run tours targeting the most difficult birds of the north several times. For example, he has done specific owling tours to northern Peru, and each time he has done so he has learned additional stakeouts, so that he now makes finding some of the toughest birds of northern Peru easy. Thanks to Eduardo, we believe that we run the most successful comprehensive northern Peru trip out there – including an almost month-long birdathon mega tour. It has become one of our true signature tours, since we run it so regularly and highly successfully.  And a more “compact” version. This northern Peru tour itinerary can be downloaded from Birding Tour Peru: Comprehensive northern Peru. Then, for those who have less time or can’t tolerate particularly dizzying altitudes, we also do a shorter northern Peru bird trip of just over two weeks – to at least still see the best birds that northern Peru has to offer.

And now for the top 5 birds in Northern Peru – according to Chris and so rather biased and personal, ha ha! All photos are from a selection of our previous Northern Peru birding tours. Eduardo made his own list here.

1)    Marvelous Spatuletail (photo by Trevor Hardaker) is the single most “wanted” bird in Peru and is reliably found on all our north Peru birding tours. We now see it at feeders as well, affording more close-up views. There are only an estimated 250-1000 individuals of this Endangered and amazingly localized northern Peruvian endemic left in existence. According to Birdlife International, up to 60 % of its habitat might be destroyed during the next 12 years!

Marvellous Spatuletail (Trevor Hardaker)

2)    Long-whiskered Owlet (photo by Alan van Norman). Discovered as recently as 1976, this tiny, near-terrestrial owl is another Endangered species, with very similar population estimates as Marvelous Spatuletail and the probability of declining further because of massive habitat destruction.

Long-whiskered Owlet (Alan van Norman)

3)    Any of the five Inca Finches – I can’t choose exactly which one! Photographed here on one of our northern Peru Birding tours is Grey-winged Inca Finch (photo by Ken Logan). Grey-winged Inca Finch is Vulnerable and only occurs at four sites. All Inca Finch species are endemic to Peru!

Grey-winged Inca Finch

4)    White-winged Guan (photo by Alan van Norman) – Critically Endangered with a population estimate of only 250 birds – need I say more?

White-winged Guan -Alan van Norman

5)    Buff-fronted Owl (photo by Alan van Norman). This is the only Least Concern species on my short list – while it’s a widespread South American bird, it’s one of the most elusive yet beautiful little owls, and we have quite a reliable stakeout for it during our regular northern Peru birding tours. It’s in my personal favorite owl genus, Aegolius, which also includes Boreal Owl (also known as Tenglmalm’s Owl) and the two Saw-whet Owl species (along with an extinct one from Bermuda).

Buff-fronted Owl -Alan van Norman

Birding Ecotours

Join our newsletter for exclusive discounts and great birding information!


Thank you!