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Birdwatching in the Andes

Andean Condor

A really cool piece from the New York Times yesterday on birdwatching in the Andes, near the Incan ruins of Macchu Pichu.  According to the article, this area of Peru is a hot-spot for a number of exotic and rare species such as the Andean toucan and the enormous Andean condor.  The author also had a chance to view an endemic Incan Wren.

The article does a fantastic job of relaying the rich and often spiritual experience of birdwatching.  Sometimes it’s hard to put into words the communion one feels with the natural world when interacting with birds.  It’s refreshing to see a professional writer do it justice.  Here’s a great snippet.

A half-moon had risen overhead, its pale light illuminating the fortresslike silhouette of Machu Picchu far above us. Yábar stopped suddenly. “Escuche,” he said, signaling me with a hand cupped to his ear.
High above, where the forest met the sheer canyon walls, we heard a whirring sound, something unusual. I stopped short, my heart pounding and my hope renewed.

“Lyre-tailed nightjar,” Yábar said. “I’m going to call it.”

We waited, watching intently, then saw what looked like a child’s streamer fluttering against the last vestiges of Andean azure sky.

It danced above us, then landed on a tree branch, its long and delicate tail rising and falling with the cool breeze that whispered through the valley.