|Amazon Kingfisher in Tambopata, Peru|
This is actually a good thing because traveling by boat on the Tambopata River is a relaxed, easy-going endeavor that never fails to turn up sightings of herons, egrets, and a variety of other rainforest wildlife. One of the bird species that is frequently sighted on boat rides is the Amazon Kingfisher. Perched in riverside vegetation, they watch the water for fish and other aquatic prey. They also make their presence known as they give their rattling calls and zip across the river on quick wings. This crested, green bird is found throughout the Amazon basin as well as along waterways north to eastern Mexico and is a common resident in the Tambopata region.
Here are a few more facts about the Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona):
- Plunge dives for food: Like many other kingfishers, this species dives head first into the water to catch fish, crustaceans, or other small aquatic creatures with its long, dagger-like bill.
- Aerodynamic shape: The shape of the Amazon Kingfisher is adapted for aerodynamics. This bird has a pointed bill and head to lessen the resistance to both air and water when making a dive. The shape of many kingfishers is so aerodynamic that they were used as a model for designing high speed trains in Japan!
- Similar to the Green Kingfisher: The Amazon Kingfisher is very similar in coloration and shape to the smaller Green Kingfisher. Since size can be difficult and tricky to accurately asses when watching birds, the easiest way to tell these two species apart is by noting the amount of white in the wings and tail. Whereas Green Kingfishers show a fair amount of white in the wings and tail, the wings and tail of the Amazon Kingfisher are mostly green.
- Watch the bare branches along the edge of the river: Amazon Kingfishers frequently perch on snags that stick out over the edge of the water and on bare branches that come out of the water. Scan such sites with binoculars and watch for a green and white bird with a large, crested head.
- Take a boat ride on an oxbow lake: Amazon Kingfishers can be found along any large waterway in the Tambopata region. They especially love the calm, peaceful waters of oxbow lakes and are frequently encountered perched above the edge of the water or as they fly in front of the boat.