Like most mornings at the Rainforest Expeditions eco-lodges, this one started just before dawn and would involve sightings of Chestnut-fronted Macaws. Rainforest animals are most active during those two first magic hours after sunrise and this is why both guests and guides had 4:30 A.M. wake up calls. During breakfast, the first light of the day began to filter down through the tall, cathedral-like rainforest canopy and signaled that it was time to leave for the trip to a nearby oxbow lake. As the group walked down to the boats, Red Howler Monkeys roared from the canopy and a family of Saddle-backed Tamarins was sighted.
Even though the ride across the river was a quick one, the guide was kept busy in pointing out the birds that were flying across the coffee-colored Tambopata.
“Crested Oropendolas! Russet-backed Oropendolas!” he exclaimed as large flocks of those big, yellow-tailed birds flew over the boat. Loud screeches indicated that one of the most common macaws in the Tambopata region was also in active mode. As pair after pair flew overhead and perched in the riverside trees, the guide pointed them out.
“Those are Chestnut-fronted Macaws! They are smaller than the big macaws but very common in Tambopata and just as colorful”.
The Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Ara severa) is probably the most numerous macaw species in Tambopata. Their abundance is likely related to their preference for old second growth and riverine habitats. This allows them to persist in many areas near the town of Puerto Maldonado although they are much more common in the forests near the lodges.
Some interesting facts about Chestnut-fronted Macaws:
- Named after a small field mark: Bird species are named by the ornithologist who describes them. Since the description is typically based on specimens of the bird in question, many are named after aspects of their plumage that are much more visible in a laboratory setting than out in the field. The Chestnut-fronted Macaw is one such bird species. Although the chestnut-colored front of the bird is visible, it’s not as noticeable as the red, blue, and yellow wings, or the green back.
- A mini macaw: Although it is placed in the same genus as some of the large macaws, this and other similar-sized species of macaws are sometimes referred to as “mini-macaws”. Not considered to be as smart as Scarlet or Red and Green Macaws they are nonetheless quite intelligent.
How to see Chestnut-fronted Macaws on an Amazon rainforest tour:
- Visit a clay lick: Like most other parrots, parakeets, and macaws in the Tambopata region, Chestnut-fronted Macaws make regular visits to clay licks (colpas). They can be one of the most abundant birds at a clay lick and can number in the hundreds at certain times of the year. This is the perfect situation for studying their beautiful plumage through a telescope as they visit the clay lick and perch in nearby trees.
- Watch for them along rivers: When traveling by boat on the Tambopata or hiking through riverine habitats, watch for this species as it perches in the tops of trees and flies around. They are quite common in this type of habitat.
To be entertained by the colorful sights and sounds of wild Chestnut-fronted Macaws, take a Peruvian jungle tour with Rainforest Expeditions.