|ECOREGIONS AND BIRD HABITATS
The Andes Mountains run along a north-south axis dividing Peru into three major ecoregions. We adopt geographer Javier Pulgar Vidal’s cross-section map of Peru to ilustrate the most recognizeable habitat types within each ecoregion. We identify habitat types recognizing that in some cases these can be divided into finer-grained categorization. We also recognize that similar vegetative communities are found in more than one ecoregion.At the bottom of this page, we also provide the most recognizable bird micro-habitats originally proposed by Parker et al., 1992.
|HABITATS WEST OF THE ANDES|
Mangrove forests are characterized by forest community composed largely of a few species of mangrove trees that grow within the tidal zone. Mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures. In Peru, Mangrove forests are found only in the Departments of Tumbes and Piura in extreme northern Peru.
|TROPICAL DECIDOUS FOREST
This habitat type is found in the extreme north west part of Peru. Tropical deciduous Forest is warm year-round, are strongly seasonal, and can receive about 500 to 1,500 mm of annual rainfall depending on the onset of the El Nino Events. Deciduous trees predominate in most of these forests, and during the dry season a leafless period occurs, which varies with species type. Though less biologically diverse than rainforests on the humid eastern side of the Andes, tropical dry forests are home to many endemic bird bird species well adapted to life in strongly seasonal ecosystems. Photo: Segundo Crespo More.
|ARID LOWLAND SCRUB
Arid lowland scrub includes a variety of plant communities dominated by shrubs, scattered small trees, and cacti usually forming an almost continuous cover of low vegetation. Extensive areas of arid lowland scrub occur in western Peru. Lowland scrub communities often morph into Montane Scrub above 1,000 m. In Peru the lowland desert scrub extends from Tumbes south to Ancash.Further south in the Costal desert of Peru and Chile, “fog Loma” vegetation in the form of winter-green annuals and bulbs perennials grows on desert sand and rock where winter fog is heaviest. Isolated patches of trees such as Acacia macracanta and Caesalpinia tentoria covered with mosses and lichens are characteristic of this habitat type. Photo: Segundo Crespo More.
|ARID MONTANE SCRUB
Arid Montane Scrub supports a diverse assemblage of plant communities structurally similar to those the Arid Lowland Scrub. Arid Montane scrub can be found at elevation of 1,000 to 4,000 m along the western slope of the Peruvian Andes. Photo: Alfredo Begazo.
|SEMIHUMIND MONATNE SCRUB
This habitat type forms at elevations above 2,500 m specially in moist intermontane valleys, and extends up to Puna Grasslands at about 4,000 m.
|COASTAL SAND BEACHES AND MUDFLATS
The sand-covered area where the land meets the sea is an important foraging habitat for many species of shorebirds. Further away from the surf, sandy beaches provide nesting habitat for a variety of birds.Mudflats are areas exposed by receding tidal waters. Mudflats are important foraging sites for birds and essential stopover sites for many migratory birds. Photo: Alfredo Begazo.
|COASTAL ROCKY BEACHES AND CLIFFS
Coast rocky beaches occur scattered along coastal Peru, largely along the southern half of the country. Rocky beaches vary in appearance from relatively flat and wide subject to varying intertidal exposure to vertical rocky cliffs. Several species depend on rocky beaches for foraging and others for use cliffs as resting and nesting sites. Photo: Sernamp.
Coastal waters include bays, estuaries, and other waters on continental shelves out to approximately 20 km from the shore. Most coastal seabirds are found within only a few kilometers from the coast. Photo: Pacifico Adventures.
This habitat type constitutes waters offshore areas past the edge of the continental shelves. These deep oceanic waters provide habitat for pelagic birds that spend most of their lives far from land. Photo: Marcel Holyoak.
|SALTWATER AND BRACKISH MARSHES
Includes aquatic habitats structurally similar to freshwater marshes, but are located in coastal and estuarine areas with varying amounts of salt water intrusion. Plant species tipically found in this habitat type include Scirpus sp., Salicornia spp., Distichlis spp., Phragmites sp. and Spartina spp. Photo: Pantanos de Villa.
|HABITATS IN HIGH ANDES||TOP|
This habitat type includes grasslands with scattered bushes in the higher mountain slopes and plains of the Andes above 4,000 m. The dominant vegetation consist of bunch grasses of the genus Festuca spp. and Calamagrostis spp. Also characteristics of Puna Grasslands are frost resistant cushion plants of the genus Azorella, Distichia, Pycnophillum, and Ochychloe. Photo: Alfredo Begazo.
Unlike Puna Grasslands, Paramo Grasslands are rather humid grasslands mixed with shrubbery vegetation. Paramo Grasslands occur above treeline above montane and elfin forest. Scattered small lakes and boggy depressions are common features in Paramo habitats. In Peru, Paramos Grasslands occurs in scattered locations largely in the northern Peruvian Andes. Photo: Segundo Crespo More.
Includes emerging vegetation that often covers areas bordering ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers and streams. Vegetative composition varies from pure stands of Cattails., Typha sp., Grasses, Sedges, and Bullrushes, to a mixture of smaller plant species forming floating mats. Marsh dwelling birds strongly select marshes with certain types of aquatic vegetation. Photo: Alfredo Begazo.
Polylepis forests occur at elevations above treeline e.g., 3,500 to 4,500 m above sea level. This patchily distributed habitat in Peru occurs in groves that are dominated by one or more species of Polylepis (Rosaceae) or as mixed woodlands where Polylepis trees may be in equal proportions as other tree or shrub species. Photo: Fernando Angulo.
Shallow Alkaline Lakes are found at high elevations in the Andes. Some of these lakes are ephemeral, containing water only a few months following periods of good rainfall. Some bird species area closely associated to alkaline Andean Lakes.
|RIVERS AND STREAMS
This habitat types encompases the bodies of running water and not the edges associated with these bodies of water.
|HABITATS EAST OF THE ANDES|
|LOWLAND EVERGREEN FOREST
In Peru, lowland evergreen forest is found on the eastern portion of the country from the Amazonian plain up to 900 m along the foothill of the Andes. These forests reach 25-40 m in height; with emergents of 50-60 m. Forests are typically rich in buttressed trees, and undergrowth palms, woody vines, and vascular epiphytes. Lowland Evergreen forests can be further subdivided into Floodplain or Varzea Forest and Upland or Terra Firme Forests, and Flooded Forests. These forest types are relevant in influencing bird distribution in Amazonia. Photo: Walter Wust.
|HUMID MONTANE FOREST
Montane evergreen forest is characterized as low to intermediate in height. The most obvious feature of montane forests is the profusion of mosses, bromeliads, ferns, and orchids covering exposed branches and trunks of most trees. The exact elevation at which the transition from lowland to montane forests occurs varies from region to region and ranges from approximately 650 to 1,500 m above sea level.
Elfin forest is defined as short gnarled forested areas where the canopy appears sculptured and streamlined by the wind. They can occur at various elevations and are generally found on exposed Andean crests, especially those of outlying ridges. Elfin forests are often found near tree line and although structurally may look different, floristically Elfin Forests are a stunted version of the upper montane forest plant species.
|WHITE SAND FOREST
White sand forest habitats have several distinguishing characteristics that usually include white-sand soil, small or stunted trees, and an open understory. In the Peruvian Amazon, white-sand forests are patchily distributed and restricted to a few localities in the North. The greatest known concentration of white sand forests in the Peruvian Amazon occurs near the city of Iquitos, in the lower Nanay River basin.
|SECOND GROWTH FOREST AND WOODLANDS
Secondary forest encompases a series of successional vegetative stages that occurs in areas where the original forest has been lost. Secondary forests may also arise from forest that has been harvested heavily or over a long period of time, forest that is naturally regenerating from fire and from abandoned pastures or areas of agriculture. Many bird species live in secondary forest and their historic geographic distribution has been expanded as deforestation occurs. Photo: Alfredo Begazo.
|RIVERINE SAND BEACHES
This habitat type is largely found in the amazon basin where water levels in rivers vary substantially. Changes in seasonal rain patterns determine the width of exposed sand or mud left between the water and emerging early successional vegetation such as Tessaria sp. This sandy or muddy interface constitutes an important habitat for resident and migratory birds.
|FRESHWATER LAKES AND PONDS
This habitat type includes a variety of lake types, including large oxbow lakes of Amazonia, high altitude Andean freshwater lakes, and human made bodies of water. Photo: John Wrublik.
|PASTURES AND AGRICULTURAL LANDS
Hedgerows, ditches, fallow fields, abandoned pastures. and orchards provide suitable habitat for native birds. Birds using these habitat types likely used similar naturally occurring habitats. Man-made open and semi open habitats constitute habitat available to these species. Photo: Barry Glass.
Bamboo thickets (Gramineae) occur scattered in the Lowland Evergreen and Montane Forests forests. Guadua angustifolia is the dominant bamboo species in the lowlands, which is replaced by Chusquea spp. in Montane Forests. The dense foliage and tangle branches in bamboo thickets provide numerous foraging substrates for a set of insectivorous birds restricted to homogeneous or mixed stands of bamboo. Bamboo also produces seeds at long intervals, which attract a separate set of see eating and nomadic bird species. Photo: Alfredo Begazo.
Bogs are poorly drained soils that contain water almost constantly, even during long droughts in the regions where they occur. Soils usually contain a layer of organic material called peat. A few Andean birds are strongly associated to this habitat and their geographic distributions is largely limited to the occurrence of this habitat type. Photo: Luke Seitz.
|ROCKY OUTCROPS AND CAVES
A few species of birds are strongly associated to rocky outcrops, cliff faces and caves. These rocky formations occur scattered throughout mountainous regions and seem to influence the occurrence and relative abundance of birds that depend on them for nesting and roosting. Photo: Barry Glass
Treefall Gaps are openings in continuous forest formed by fallen trees. The access of light to the forest floor prompts the colonization of fast growing plants, followed by a series of successional vegetative stages. Some bird species have specialized in utilizing this micro-habitat and are reliably found here until the gap reverts to mature forest. Photo: Creative Commons.
Vine tangles occur throughout Amazonia along the vertical length of the forest and serves as foraging and nesting habitat for a variety of bids. Some Amazonian species are restricted to vine tangle microhabitats.
Army ants are not a microhabitat, but are critical element for a set of species (professional ant followers) that rarely occur away from them. Obligate ant-following birds depend on marching ants to find food and spend all or most of their lives following ant swarms. Photo: Geoff Gallice, Wikimedia Commons.
- Parker, T. A. , III, S. A. Parker, and M. A. Plenge. 1992. An annotated checklist of Peruvian birds. Vermilion, S. D. Buteo Books.
- Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.