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Lima's Unique Urban Birdlife: Spotting Birds in the City

Urban Birding in Lima, Peru.

Lima, the capital city of Peru, is known for its world famous food, rich culture, and vibrant urban life. However, what many people may not realize is that Lima is also home to a diverse and thriving avian population. Situated within an extremely arid ecosystem, Lima’s urbanization has unintentionally created unexpected havens for birds. In this blog post, we will delve into the unique urban birdlife of Lima, the impact of urbanization on bird habitats, the presence of introduced species from the illegal wildlife trade, and the wealth of native bird species that call this city their home.

Lima is located in a region known as the “Pacific Desert,” characterized by its arid climate and lack of rainfall. This seemingly inhospitable environment poses challenges for both humans and wildlife. However, the adaptability and resilience of bird species have enabled them to thrive even in such conditions. However, as Lima grew and urbanization took hold, the city realized the importance of green spaces and parks. These areas, scattered throughout the city, have become unexpected oases for birds and other wildlife. Parks like ‘El Olivar’ and ‘Parque Ramon Castilla’ have lush vegetation, providing shelter and food sources for a variety of bird species.

Many of the most common bird species found in the City, are species that were brought by the illegal wildlife trade. Some introduced species, such as Parrots and Tanagers, have been smuggled into the city from the Peruvian Jungle and other countries, and sold as pets. While the illegal trade is detrimental to the well-being of these birds, some have managed to escape or be released into the wild, establishing feral populations within the city. Some of the most common species that fit this criteria are: Blue-and-Gray Tanager, House Sparrow, Red-Crested Cardinal, Saffron Finch, Red-masked Parakeets and Harris’ Hawks.

IA morning trip to any decent-sized park in Lima can easily and rapidly produce about 50 species. Black Vultures dominate the sky, no matter where in the city you are located. With some luck you can find a Turkey Vulture, Harris’ Hawk or Variable Hawk mixed in. Other raptors that are less common nowadays, since the Harris’ Hawk took over the city, are American Kestrels and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles. If you visit a park before sunrise, you might catch a glimpse of the Barn Owl, or even a Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, the latter are quite vocal at dawn and dusk. Other common birds that are easily seen in Lima are: West Peruvian Dove, Eared Dove, Amazilia Hummigbird, Vermillion Flycatcher -even the local borwn morph-, Bananaquits, Shiny Cowbird, Long-tailed Mockinbird, and many, many more. 

Another quick way to increase your list, is to go down to the Coast, to any of the beaches. You can spot most of the Guano Birds with easy. Peruvian Boobies, Inca Terns and Guanay Cormorants are easily seen fishing of flying by, while Peruvian Pelicans are always resting in the water. The fish market down in Chorrillos, next to ‘El Club Regatas’ is a great place to see all of these species up close and personal. 

In conclusion, birdwatching in the vibrant city of Lima, Peru offers a unique and rewarding experience for both avid bird enthusiasts and casual nature lovers alike. With its diverse habitats  and abundant bird species, Lima showcases the incredible biodiversity that thrives in an urban environment. From the breathtaking coastline to the lush parks and green spaces, birdwatchers can marvel at a wide array of avian wonders, including migratory birds, endemic species, and even rare sightings. Whether exploring the city’s parks, embarking on a guided tour, or simply observing birds from the comfort of a balcony, Lima provides an accessible and enriching birdwatching destination that showcases the beauty and resilience of nature amidst the urban landscape.


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