A Collared Inca

Gary’s humdingers of Peru

In B.C. we have four regularly occurring species, in Peru alone they have over 120 species of hummingbirds.

We are now ten days into our trip in northern Peru. Our bus took us from Cajamarca on the west slope of the Andes to Tarapoto in the Amazon Basin on the eastern side of the Andes.

The drive up and over was amazing. Living in B.C. I thought I knew about mountain roads and switchbacks, but I have seen nothing to compare with the trip we’ve just made! These mountains are massive, and it’s necessary to go up and down several times before you get across.

One of our climbs took us from a river valley at 800 metres up to a pass at 3,600 metres, an elevation gain of 2,800 metres (almost 12,000 feet), in one steady climb. The trip covered 60 kilometres of gravel road, but there were so many severe switchback that we were actually only 20 kilometres from where we began!

Needless to say, we are seeing lots of birds. In the first ten days I have seen over 250 species that I have never seen before.

Some of the bird families here are familiar; they have warblers, flycatchers, hummingbirds, swallows, and tanagers. But some of the other families are quite unfamiliar. We have seen various sorts of chat-tyrants, tit-spinetails, flowerpiercers, pygmy-tyrants, shrike-tyrants, brush-tyrants, canasteros, ant-shrikes, ant-wrens, ant-pittas, and the list goes on!

Even the hummingbirds have a variety of names; some are called hermits, metaltails, sapphires, sabrewings, pufflegs, sylphs, trainbearers, woodstars, fairys, coquettes and Incas. The photo I have used here is a Collared Inca.

The hummingbird family is very large in South America. In B.C. we have four regularly occurring species, in Peru alone they have over 120 species. You can imagine the challenge it is for us to try and sort them all out, so far we have seen just 36 species and already I’m confused!

Another large family is the tanagers. B.C. has just one, Peru has 115; we’ve managed to see over 40 of them.

Photography is difficult here. If you’re in the forest, it is very thick and the light levels are very low. If you’re not in the forest then the equatorial sun is very bright and the light levels are too intense. And so many of the birds either like to skulk in the bushes or retreat to the canopy to feed.

It’s a great trip. Our guide Eduardo, has shown unimaginable patience with the group from Canada that seem to have to ask him the same questions over and over again.

One of the more common birds here is the Palm Tanager. Despite this, I don’t think a day goes by when somebody doesn’t ask Eduardo what’s that one there?


The Andes were magnificent. Tomorrow we fly from Tarapoto to Iquitos, on the banks of the Amazon River. From there we will travel by river; there are no roads leading to Iquitos. The river is the highway!



Just Posted

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Volunteers sought for weed pull at Summit Lake Provincial Park

Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society is looking for help next week

UPDATE: Search for missing Cranbrook woman enters third day

The search for a Cranbrook woman missing in the Jumbo Pass area is entering its third day.

Search for missing Cranbrook woman ongoing

Louise Baxter missing in Jumbo Pass area since Sunday

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

Ex-B.C. teachers’ union leader among latest pipeline protesters to get jail time

Twelve people have been sentenced for violating court order to stay away from Kinder Morgan terminal

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Time to kick maverick Tory MP Maxime Bernier out of caucus, Scheer urged

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s oft-repeated message of diversity in Canada, calling it a form of “radical multiculturalism.”

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

Two civilians were killed in a shooting in Fredericton that also claimed the lives of two police officers.

Most Read