Peru is home to 120 different types of hummingbird, a third of all known species. Amongst these, 14 species are only found in Peru, mostly having small ranges within the Andes. These speedy little birds are members of one of the most distinctive and specialised bird families and they hold a special attraction for birders.
Discover Hummingbirds of Peru with Local Expert Guides
Birding tours in Peru offer trips of a lifetime but, with so much choice on offer, before you go you’d be wise to take the advice of knowledgeable local guides. These are based in Peru and will help you make the most of your time there if you go in search of these beautiful little birds.
Hummingbirds are restricted to the Americas where their diversity is concentrated in the tropical Andes. Their diminutive size, aerial mastery, bright colours and spectacular plumage ornaments make them seem from another world and the names they have been given, Woodnymphs, Sylphs, Comets, Sunbeams, Woodstars etc, reflect how this fascinating family of birds, living at the extreme of what it is to be a bird, capture our imaginations.
Koepcke’s Hermit, recently discovered in 1977, is restricted to low outlying mountain ranges on the outer ridges of the eastern Andes with a disjunct range extending from San Martin to Madre de Dios.
Peruvian Piedtail inhabits forest interiors in the eastern foothills from San Martin to Cusco. The area below San Pedro on Manu Road is perhaps the best spot for finding this species, though it has started visiting feeders below Abra Patricia, making it much easier to see.
Surprisingly, the spectacular Bronze-tailed Comet is not so well-known despite being widespread in the western Andes from La Libertad to Arequipa, occupying arid scrub and woods in these montane areas.
The magnificent Grey-bellied Comet is a large, unmistakable Andean hummingbird that is currently known only from a very small area near the city of Cajamarca in north-central Peru. It is now mainly restricted to the canyon of the Rio Chonta where a few pairs persist. This comet is extremely territorial and dominant over all other species of hummingbird at flowering plants.
Photo credit: Grey-bellied Comet, Rob Williams c/o PromPeru
Located in central Peru the Black-breasted Hillstar inhabits puna with shrub and cushion cacti, where most often their favoured Chuquiraga plants are found. They also like grassy slopes, rocky areas with fertile soil and gardens.
Photo credit: Black-breasted Hillstar, Rob Williams c/o PromPeru
Bearded Mountaineer is a large species with a long, forked tail. They inhabit dry montane scrub, bush-filled and lightly wooded areas, rocky outcrops and gorges in the valleys of the southern Andes, often being found at stands of Nicotiana, an exotic tobacco tree.
Photo credit: Bearded Mountaineer, Green Tours
Three endemics are in the genus Metallura, the Metaltails. These mid-sized species all occupy similar high altitude habitats at the treeline. The Black Metaltail in the western Andes from Cajamarca to Arequipa, the Coppery Metaltail to the east of the Marañón river in northern Peru and the Fire-throated Metaltail in eastern central Peru.
The Marvelous Spatuletail, one of the most distinctive of all hummingbirds with only four tail feathers, two of which have large purple “spatules” which are waved in its amazing display. It is only found in a small area of the upper Utcubamba valley, where it is most easily seen at the Humebo Visitor Centre near the town of Pomacochas in Amazonas.
Read More: Taking the Northern Peru Birding Route
Photo credit: Marvelous Spatuletail, Manu Birding Lodge
Two are Sunbeams in the genus Aglaeactis. The White-tufted Sunbeam inhabits humid montane scrub in the central and southern Andes. The Purple-backed Sunbeam is restricted to a tiny area on the west side of the Marañón valley in La Libertad and is only known from a single accessible locality at the village of El Molino.
The Spot-throated Hummingbird favours arid habitats of the Marañón valley where it can be very common. The Green-and white frequents the humid montane forest in the south-east and is easily found at Machu Picchu.
Several hummingbirds are near-endemic to Peru, such as the Royal Sunangel that is best seen at Abra Patricia in Amazonas, the Peruvian Sheartail that can be found in the parks and gardens of Lima and the Oasis Hummingbird found in the deserts of western Peru. On-going studies into the birds’ taxonomy and the acceptance of less conservative taxonomic treatments will likely result in the recognition of more endemic species for Peru such as the spectacular whitetailed albicaudata form of the Violet-throated Starfrontlet, which is already afforded species rank by some.
The endemic hummingbirds are a great attraction for keen birders but they also appeal to anyone with an interest in the natural world as they are such unique creatures.
Are you Interested in Seeing the Endemic Hummingbirds of Peru?
For more information, contact one of our Peruvian Wildlife Specialists to book directly your next Hummingbird adventure or search the name of the species to bring up a list of the local wildlife specialists who could show you that particularly desired one.
Peru Export and Tourism Board
Originally Published: 13th November 2018