Aguas Verdes is a small village 76 Km north of the city of Rioja, Department of San Martín, north Peru, just between the Alto Mayo valley and the mountains of the Bosque de Protección Alto Mayo and the famous Abra Patricia. It has been known for several years as a birdwatching in northern Peru hotspot because its altitude of about 1500 meters allows to lowland and montane birds to occur together, when the weather is too cold in the mountains some birds of higher altitudes migrate down to the Mayo valley looking for more comfortable temperatures. Additionally, the white-sand forests east of the town of Aguas Verdes are home of some good birds like Dusky Spinetail, Zimmer’s Antbird, Scale Fruiteater, Redshouldered Tanager, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Lined Antshrike, just to mention a few.

Hummingbirds are particularly abundant in these forests, but they are not always easy to see mainly because they use to be concealed in the dense understory, foraging among Heliconias and other hummingbird flowers. A few years ago the use of hummingbird feeders started at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge and at Wakanqi Lodge with great success, and some rarities like Rufous-crested Coquette or several Hermits became very easy to see.

About two years ago, a young carpenter from Aguas Verdes named Norbil Becerra was invited to Huembo (the site for the Marvelous Spatuletail) attending a training course on nature conservancy, there he was impressed by the huge amount of beautiful hummingbirds flying around the feeders and begun to ask questions about what those bottles were and how did they work.

Aguas Verdes Green Tours Peru Hummingbirds

As soon as he came back to his hometown Norbil started his hummingbird feeder project, he always have been interested in the conservation of the forests, but now he just found something very specific to work on. First thing to do was to build the feeders with plastic bottles and sugared water as he has been told, then he cleaned up a small patch of forest in his property and installed the feeders at the edges of the cleaned area. A few months passed, he and his family renewed the sugared water supply every morning, but nothing came to the feeders. Neighbors begun to laugh at them, “Norbil, you are wasting your precious time there, instead of been working at your farm to feed your family” they said to him. But Norbil remained firm in his believes, and even bought a few more hectares of forested land to protect it from being cut down by farmers.

Seven months have had to pass until the first hummingbirds discovered the abundant source of food at Norbil’s feeders. The first birds to come were two big ones: Grey-breasted Sabrewing and Black-throated Hermit, Norbil and his son could not believe their eyes, hummingbirds were finally coming!

Violet-fronted Brilliant

Violet-fronted Brilliant hummingbird

Soon came more jewels to the feeders: Violet-fronted Brilliants usually fight each other for the supremacy at the feeders, some Fork-tailed Hummingbirds wait for their turn a few meters away, and the shy Green, Grey-chinned and Reddish Hermits wait even farther, coming to the feeders just for a few seconds before they get chased away by the bigger ones. Recently Norbil had discovered that some kind of Sicklebill is coming to feed on a few Heliconias growing near the feeders, now he is planning to plant more if this Heliconias in the area, his aim being to attract the mysterious hummingbird. So far, Norbil have counted seventeen hummingbird species coming to the feeders, among the most outstanding are Rufous-crested Coquette, Wire-crested Thorntail, and the very rare Napor Sabrewing. Norbil’s adventure is just beginning, and it seems that it is going to be a fantastic one.

Green Hermit Green Tours Peru  Wire-crested Thorntail Green Tours Peru

Hummingbirds are already coming to the feeders, but Norbil is still fighting against the misunderstanding of the other villagers. Certainly, Norbil and his family have to be proud of their persistence and should be considered as conservation pioneers in Aguas Verdes. I hope others will follow their way, in order to ensure the preservation of the incredible high diversity of the montane humid forests of north Peru.

Green Tours has established themselves as one of the leading wildlife tour operators based in Peru offering some of Peru’s best birding experiences. By booking for one of the birding trips to north Peru you will be supporting Norbil’s hummingbird project and other similar conservation initiatives in north Peru.


Green Tours has established themselves as one of the leading wildlife tour operators based in Peru offering some of Peru’s best birding experiences. By booking for one of the birding trips to north Peru you will be supporting Norbil’s hummingbird project and other similar conservation initiatives in north Peru.

Wilson Diaz Green Tours Birdwatching

 

 

 

 

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