Birding photography on the Northern Peru Birding Route

Fotografía de aves en la Ruta de Aves del Norte del Perú / Birding photography on Northern Peru Birding Route

“The Northern Peru Birding Route has a high biodiversity of birds, as well as great opportunities to photograph them, such as the Marvelous Spatuletail, Rufous-crested coquette, Wire-crested Thorntail, Paradise Tanager, Black-bellied Tanager, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher, among other species of interest”.

Birding photography

According to Callister (2023), birding photography is a form of wildlife photography associated with photographing birds in their natural environment. Cameras with fast shutter speed, good low-light performance and image resolution, as well as the ability to use zoom lenses to photograph birds at a distance without affecting their behavior, are used to photograph birds.

“The oldest photographic record is of a stork in its nest, dating from 1870, taken by Charles A. Hewins; in 1872 some Rockhopper penguins were recorded in an expedition called Challenger” (Callister, 2023).

Photographic Experiences in the Northern Peru Birding Route

Earlier this year we operated two private photographic expeditions on the Northern Peru Birding Route. In the case of Col Roberts, an experienced Australian photographer who had a particular interest in photographing two species: Marvelous Spatuletail and Paradise Tanager; on the other hand, Mark Noll, an American amateur photographer who was interested in photographing as many hummingbirds as possible, including Rufous-crested Coquette, Marvelous Spatuletail, Long-tailed Sylph, among the most outstanding ones.

Based on the mentioned interests, considering that nature is unpredictable, the itineraries were designed, prioritizing the target species and selecting the ideal locations and times; with knowledge and preparation to obtain more successful bird sightings and, in particular, high quality photographs.

The main locations were the following:

    • Cordillera Escalera – Aconabikh Regional Conservation Area and surrounding areas
    • Morro de Calzada Ecosystem Conservation and Recovery Area – Morro de Calzada Amazon Center
    • Alto Mayo Protected Forest – Arena Blanca Reserve, La Llantería, Fundo Alto Nieva, and surrounding areas
    • Abra Patricia – Owlet Lodge
    • Pomacochas – Huembo Lodge

“I had a particular interest in the Marvelous spatuletail and the Paradise Tanager, and I got some fantastic photographs of both and other species. About the Marvelous Spatuletail I consider it is a fantastic bird, it has a nice purple and green throat coloration and it is distinguished from other hummingbirds by its fantastic mosaic comprising two large spatulets and two other shorter tails; it also shows off its acrobatics in the air circling around those mosaics, just fantastic”. Col Roberts.

The highlights of the bird photography of the route are the following:

    • High biodiversity of birds of the Northern Peru Birding Route with records of approximately 1600 species, of which 150 are restricted range and 63 are endemic to the country (Conave, n.d.).
    • There are hummingbird observatories (Aconabikh, Waqanki, Morro de Calzada Amazon Center, Reserva Arena Blanca, Llantería, Fundo Alto Nieva, Abra Patricia, and Huembo are some of the most important) that ensure high observation success for at least 40 species of hummingbirds, including Marvelous spatuletail, Rufous-crested Coquette, Wire-crested Thorntail, and Royal Sunangel.
    • Quail and Tinamou observatory in Arena Blanca Reserve, which records 3 species of interest, especially the Rufous-breasted Wood-quail and the Little Tinamou.
    • Tanagers observatory in Arena Blanca Reserve, where up to 15 species are recorded, including the Black-bellied Tanager and the Burnished-buff Tanager.
    • Crakes observatory in Morro de Calzada Amazon Center where the Russet-crowned Crake and Rufous-sided Crake can be observed.
    • Antpittas observatory at Fundo Alto Nieva where you can observe the Ochre-fronted Antpitta and Rusty-tinged Antpitta.

“I had photographed 38 species of hummingbirds, the best photos were of the Marvelous Spatuletail, Long-tailed Sylph, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Golden-collared Toucanet, Quetzal, Trogon and antbirds, all of which were great”. Mark Noll.

The future of birding photography in Peru

Birding photography has become a very popular activity related to ecotourism that has increased in recent years and contributes to local economic growth, in that sense, the traditional activity of bird watching using binoculars has been replaced by the use of photographic equipment.

However, other services and activities are required, such as species monitoring and facilities that facilitate bird photography, which not only requires birdwatching, but also conditions for taking the best photographs of the birds (photographic composition, presence of light, etc.).

In addition, this new niche market has needs and interests that differ somewhat from birdwatchers, for example, a photographer may show more interest in a colorful bird compared to a birdwatcher, who may prefer a bird that never observed despite not having outstanding visual characteristics, in some cases these characteristics coincide as the Marvelous Spatuletail or other species.

Based on the above, the Northern Peru Birding Route has ideal characteristics to serve this segment, but requires reinforcing the work done by the birding sites, to adapt the conditions and equipment, strengthen the capacities of the staff that manages the species, and increase the opportunities to photograph more species of birds.

If you are interested in a photographic expedition you can see our tours and contact us at info@ikamexpeditions.com.

Birding Photography on Northern Peru Birding Route


    • Callister, B. (2023). Birdwatchworld.com. https://birdwatchworld.com/what-is-bird-photography-a-complete-explanation-by-a-pro/.
    • Conave, n.d.. Northern Birding Trail. https://conave.org.pe/ruta-norte.html