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Birds to Look for at an Oxbow Lake

Pat ODonnell

There's much more than one type of habitat in the Amazon rainforest. Different types of forest grow in flooded areas compared to upland, hilly situations, and bamboo thickets and other microhabitats provide homes for different suites of plants and animals. The high rainfall in the Amazon as well as in the Andes also result in a variety of wetland habitats, one of the most interesting being oxbow lakes.

These lakes form when a bend in the river ends up being cut off from the river's main flow as its course changes over time. The resulting "blackwater" lake acts as habitat for many animals including several birds, and many are easy to see because of the open nature of the habitat. The following are a few of the more special bird species to look for when visiting any of the large oxbow lakes near our lodges:



This strange bird species is actually an herbivore, and one of the classic avian denizens of oxbow lakes in the Amazon basin. It's nearly restricted to this type of habitat and spends most of its time roosting in marsh vegetation at the edge of the lake.

Horned Screamer

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Another odd waterbird with an equally odd name, the echoing calls of this goose-like bird can carry for more than a kilometer. On the rare occasion when it takes flight, it looks kind of like a vulture. Watch for pairs that perch in vegetation at the edge of the lake.

Rufescent Tiger-Heron

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One of several heron species commonly seen at oxbow lakes, this one is recognized by its thick, reddish neck.

Several other bird species also occur in the vicinity of oxbow lakes including several tanagers, woodpeckers, toucans, and Plum-throated Cotinga. Watch for them with your guide!

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