Machu Picchu Birds

White-bellied Woodstar

White-bellied Woodstar

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.


Rufous-collared Sparrow

Rufous-collared Sparrow

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.


With over 25 subspecies, the rufous-collared sparrow is loved for its diverse vocalizations.  More sparrow info here.  More Machu Picchu here.  Previous post I wrote about MP here.


Thick-billed Euphonia, Photo B. Page

Thick-billed Euphonia, Photo B. Page

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.


Chestnut-breasted Coronet pair

Chestnut-breasted Coronet pair

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.


Blue-gray Tanager

Blue-gray Tanager

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.


Gould's Inca

Gould’s Inca

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.


Blue-necked Tanager

Blue-necked Tanager, Photo by B. Page

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander (unless otherwise noted)



Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu








88 thoughts on “Machu Picchu Birds

    • There’s a very fun train that takes visitors to MP, and that’s what we arrived on, fortunately. So glad you enjoyed the post Elisa — have a wonderful weekend.

  1. This is such a special post, Jet! There are tones of photos of this majestic place, but I have never seen one about these beautiful birds. Thank you for sharing, Jet. These birds are fabulous and very special. 🙂

    • Yes, there is so much to observe with the ruins, the birds often get overlooked. But you’re right, Amy, they are fabulous and very special, and to be enjoyed. I’m so glad you did!

  2. A real paradise for birding,Jet my friend!Such a diversity of beautiful exotic birds with fascinating motley feathers and sweet voices.The cadences when synchronised must be very agreeable to the ear.Wonderful photography,all have very striking characteristics,but the blue-gray Tanager and the blue-necked are ravishing!Happy weekend to you & Athena 🙂 ☀ ღ ☀

  3. Love this post, I have wanted to visit Machu Picchu for so long that now Darling Daughter is interested in seeing it also with me. One of these days, lol!

  4. Jet to think that we stood in the same location and I can not recall seeing a single bird! Of course they must have been present but I was not looking for them. I was amazed by the star of Peru having more birds than two continents combined! I appreciate seeing these lovelies. So colorful. Sorry I missed you little fellas!

    • One of the things I value so much about birding and travel, is having my bird friends wherever I go. As an introvert, I find crowds and lots of activity draining, but it all smooths out when I can find the local birds and chill with them. lol. I am so glad to have introduced you to Peru’s birds, Sue, and this was just a tiny scratch into that world, but one of color and joy — so happy to share it with you. 🙂

    • Yes, I do feel fortunate, SWI. We are so lucky on this planet to still have these birds. It is not often easy because their colorful feathers have been commercially attractive in the past; and even now, the pet trade continues to challenge the bird equilibrium. But there is more awareness now of depleting species, and so many people who have helped save them. So what a delight it is to share them with you on Whidbey Island. My thanks!

    • It was so much fun to find these birds in the garden and the MP site. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Lola. BTW, next time I am in Chicago I am going to look up that fountain you posted today. 🙂

    • Yes, tourist companies focus on the ancient MP sites, which are definitely worth focusing on. I loved birding in Peru. This garden was wonderful, and the Amazon basin was too. I’m happy to share these birds with you, BJ, as I ALWAYS enjoy your bird discoveries too.

    • One thing I love about birding, is learning that every creature has something beautiful to share. While the hummingbirds and tanagers are flamboyant and showy, the sparrow was so wonderful too, which is what I am sure you are attracted to. Their voices were golden, and floated effortlessly around the ancient ruins. Thanks so much Andrea.

  5. I’ve enjoyed being in MP twice and I’m still longing to go back again. What a place! Thank you my friend for evoking such wonderful moments in my mind. 🙂

    • Yes, HJ, there’s something about paradise that keeps us wanting to come back for more! I am so glad to have brought back wonderful moments for you of this outstanding place in the world. My best to you!

  6. A birder paradise indeed. You’ve definitely aroused some birder envy with the description and wonderful photos. What joy it must have been to see these lovely feathered friends.

    • Colorful birds are such a treat, and add to that shimmering colors on the hummingbirds — whew! Quite heavenly. Thanks so much for your visit today, Gunta — always a pleasure.

    • I enjoyed your post, Evonne, and your trip sounded wonderful. I am glad you enjoyed the MP birds here, and hope you come back again sometime. Thanks so much for your visit and comment. 🙂

  7. I’ve always been intrigued by Machu Picchu but fear I’m no longer able to handle those high altitudes as I once could. Thus, I continue to enjoy the armchair travels through narrative and beautiful photos. What a beautiful collection of birds.

    • Thanks so much, Tiny. I really like the tanagers too, there are some real dazzlers in Peru. And I am glad I could point out another beautiful facet of Machu Picchu.

    • I thought of you while composing this post, Inese, for your love of hummingbirds. Without hummingbirds in Ireland, I consider it my honor to share them with you here. 🙂

      • Thank you so much, Jet! ❤ I have seen them in wild three times in my life, may be, and only from a distance. Marvelous creatures! I love birds in general, and my heart just melts when I see them close enough to know that they acknowledge my presence. They are like a royalty in my eyes 🙂

  8. Eighteen species of hummingbirds – heaven on earth, methinks:) I have never been to Machu Picchu….one of those places I have always hoped to visit….and so it is on my list. Thank you sir much for such a beautiful post. Janet:)

    • Ah, the hummingbird painter. I am so glad you were able to enjoy this post, Janet. I think this garden would indeed be heaven on earth for you. My delight to share with you. 🙂

    • Peru encompasses the slopes of the Andes Mtns. and the lowlands of the Amazonian rainforest, which creates numerous habitats. The more habitats, the more variety. Whenever we go anywhere new, we always plan the trip to include as many different habitats as possible in order to get more birds. Great question! Thanks so much for coming along on the visit to MP, Nan.

    • It was heavenly, Jo. Difficult to split the time between the history and mystery of the Incans, and the outstanding birds in the nearby garden. Glad to share it with you. Thanks for your great comments.

  9. What a wonderful post, Jet! I love M.P. one of the nicest places I have ever been. I must confess, I didn’t see the birds. 18 hummers, unbelievable! And all so colourful and cheerful. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
    Best regards from Norway,

    • Hi Dina — great to hear from you! Thanks for your warm messages on the Machu Picchu birds post. MP is such a sacred and enveloping place, with the ancient structures and the llamas too, it is easy to see why you would not see the birds. I’m glad I could bring them to you. 🙂

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