The beauties and history of Machu Picchu are extensive, but there is another magical presence in the mountaintops of the Peruvian Andes: birds.
Peru has more bird species than all of North America and Europe combined.
At the Machu Picchu site, the rufous-collared sparrow is the prevalent bird. He sang his fluty song all over this large complex.
While standing among the ruins, contemplating life in these mountains in the 15th century, we heard a melodic song break through the centuries, sweet and singular. Then another voice responded, and another.
Slightly lower in altitude, in nearby Aguas Calientes, we stayed at the Inkaterra Hotel.
Located in the Andean Cloud Forest on 12 acres, their enchanting garden was host to a variety of birds.
Hummingbirds and tanagers were everywhere–paradise for a birder.
The garden boasts 18 species of hummingbirds. For perspective, there are 12 species of hummingbirds in all of North America.
Hummingbirds primarily drink nectar and tree sap, and eat insects. Tanagers eat similarly: fruit, seeds, nectar, and flower parts. Both families are exclusively New World.
Hummingbirds are a very unique bird for many reasons:
- Bright iridescent colors, which are created more by the feather structure than pigments
- Can fly up, down, backwards, sideways or hovering
- Beat their wings about 80 times per second
We had three days and two nights in this magical corner of the world, but it’s really not enough time to be in paradise.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander (unless otherwise noted)