MAAP #77: Deforestation Hotspots in the Colombian Amazon, Part 2

We present the second in a series of story maps investigating deforestation hotspots in the Colombian Amazon. Our goal is to identify the most critical hotspots (areas with the highest densities of deforestation) and use satellite imagery to identify the primary deforestation drivers.

The first report focused on a hotspot approaching Chiribiquete National Park in Caquetá department, and the  deforestation was largely driven by cattle pasture.

MAAP #77: Deforestation Hotspots in The Colombian Amazon, Part 2

We present the second in a series of story maps investigating deforestation hotspots in the Colombian Amazon. Our goal is to identify the most critical hotspots (areas with the highest densities of deforestation) and use satellite imagery to identify the primary deforestation drivers.

The first report focused on a hotspot approaching Chiribiquete National Park in Caquetá department, and the  deforestation was largely driven by cattle pasture.

Here, we move to the south and focus on a hotspot surrounding La Paya National Park in Putumayo Department. We show high-resolution satellite imagery that reveals the major driver is again cattle pasture.

Please follow this link to view the Story Map: Deforestation Hotspots in the Colombian Amazon, part 2


This work reflects an important collaboration with our colleagues at Amazon Conservation Team, funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Egg coloration in Tinamous: Are their colorful eggs a smart adaptation?

With a chicken-like appearance and terrestrial behavior, tinamous are by far some of the most common and unique birds at Los Amigos. Undulated tinamous roam around the station searching for their most delicious prey such as insects, seeds and fruits. But undulated tinamous are not the only species inhabiting Los Amigos forest. Despite their highly camouflaged plumage and lack of flight capabilities, they are definitely a group that captures the attention of any birder or naturalist. Here we tell you why!

Tinamous (Family Tinamidae) are a group of ground-dwelling birds distributed from central Mexico to southern Argentina. There are 47 tinamou species throughout the Neotropics, but it is in the southwestern Amazon where they reach their peak in diversity. Los Amigos harbors eleven of the 47 species, from the largest Great tinamou, to the tiny Little tinamou, and others such as Gray tinamou, White-throated tinamou, Cinereous tinamou, Brown tinamou, Undulated tinamou, Brazilian tinamou, Black-capped tinamou, Variegated tinamou, and Barlett’s tinamou. But what is interesting about these birds and why biologists should consider conducting more studies on this group? The answer is that tinamous are naturally rare birds; few studies have focused on them even though they are highly vulnerable to hunting and deforestation.

Compared to other Neotropical birds, tinamous have two very interesting facts: males perform parental care and the females lay exceptionally colorful eggs. Predation is one of the main causes of nest failure, thus having a direct impact on birds’ life history. In order to minimize nest failure by a predator’s visual, auditory or chemical cues, the vast majority of birds have evolved camouflaged plumage, build camouflage nests, and/or lay camouflaged eggs. The reason being that cryptic eggs are exposed to less predation risks than non-cryptic eggs, particularly for ground-nesting birds, such as tinamous. However, tinamous are an exception, laying eggs that range from bright blue green, to chocolate brown, violet and light pink colors, most of which have a glossy appearance, making the eggs stand out rather than blend with its surroundings.

Brennan (2010) aimed to understand the predation of great tinamou clutches and tried to explain why tinamou eggs are not camouflaged. For instance, Great tinamous lay large turquoise colored eggs in nests that are located on top of brown leaf litter, thus making them easy to see! Male tinamous are in charge of egg incubation, incubating almost uninterruptedly, and take care of the precocial offspring. After monitoring the nests through video cameras and egg-exchange experiments to collect DNA, Brennan found that there was a significantly higher risk of predation during incubation than during egg laying. This suggests that rather than using the egg cues (i.e. bright coloration), predators use cues from incubating males to locate clutches. High levels of nest attendance from male tinamous could possibly lead to a reduced selection for egg camouflage, thus allowing this particular trait to evolve over time and perhaps making it worthy for other functions.

Want to know more about tinamous? Make sure to keep reading #LosAmigosBirdObservatory posts on Facebook for future research updates!

For more references:

Brennan, P. 2010. Clutch predation in great tinamous Tinamus major and implications for the evolution of egg color. Journal of Avian Biology 41: 1-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.04999.x

Cabot, J. 1992. Family Tinamidae (tinamous). Pp. 112–138 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, & J. Sargatal (Eds.). Handbook of the birds of the world. Volume 1: Ostrich to ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Davis, S. J. J .F. 2002. Ratites and tinamous. Oxford University Press. New York, New York.

Schelsky, W. M. 2004. Research and conservation of forest-dependent tinamou species in Amazonia, Peru. Ornitologia Neotropical 15: 317-321.

MAAP #76: Proposed Road Would Cross Primary Forest Along Peru-Brazil Border

In December 2017, the Peruvian Congress approved a bill that declared it in the national interest to construct new roads in the border zone of Ucayali region, which shares a remote border with Brazil.

Image 76a. Base Map. Data: Mosaic of 16 images from Sentinel-2/ESA, July 2017
Image 76a. Base Map. Data: Mosaic of 16 images from Sentinel-2/ESA, July 2017

The main proposed road in this border area would cover 172 miles and connect the towns of Puerto Esperanza and Iñapari, in the Ucayali and Madre de Dios regions, respectively. Image 76a, a mosaic of satellite images from July 2017, illustrates just how remote and intact is the area surrounding the proposed road route.

Indigenous organizations and the Ministry of Culture have warned that the road would have major impacts on the indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation that are documented to inhabit parts of this remote area.

In this report, we add new information that complements the evaluation of possible impacts by calculating how much primary forest would be threatened as a result of road construction. We found that around 680,000 acres (275,00 hectares) of primary forest are at risk. Much of this area is within protected areas and a reserve for isolated indigenous groups.

Uniting bird conservation through science! Announcing the first Franzen Fellows of 2018!

If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.” – Thomas Lovejoy

Last year, we began the search for the most talented and most important passionate students and/or professionals that have found birds to be the source of their greatest inspiration and reason to protect the Amazon rainforest. The Franzen Fellowship was implemented as part of our LABO program to increase current efforts in avian research and conservation, as well as to train the next generation of ornithologists. With almost 600 species of birds, Los Amigos harbors a unique avian assemblage, because it contains some species that are rare in other parts of the country and in the rest of Amazon. After a competitive and arduous selection process, we are pleased to announce the first Franzen fellows of the Los Amigos Bird Observatory. Meet our winners!

Igor Lazo, Peruvian biologist, is currently working as an Avian Specialist and Environmental Educator at Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI) in Chiclayo, Peru. He has volunteered in Laquipampa, monitoring local avifauna but particularly the wild population of the white-winged guan (Penelope albipennis). Igor has also collaborated on the Macaw Project within the Tambopata National Reserve, working with the family Psittacidae. He is a consultant in ornithology, and assistant in mist-netting.



Matteo Sebastianelli’s interest in ornithology started in 2012, while volunteering in a biodiversity research project at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve, Madre de Dios, Peru. This experience along with field courses taken in Venezuela have allowed him to learn more about bird monitoring and the biodiversity of tropical birds. Once back in Italy, Matteo joined various ringing stations dedicated to studying avian population dynamics, seasonality of migrants and behavioral traits. Later, at Ornis Italica (non-profit organization based in Rome) Matteo was in charge of monitoring and behavioral studies of the European Roller (Coracias garrulus) breeding in nest boxes in Rome and Viterbo provinces. In 2017, Matteo worked as an assistant research fellow at TechnoSmArt Europe S.R.L., training homing pigeons to test electronic devices, GPS and Axy-Trek application, data collection and aviary maintenance; allowing him to increase his expertise in understanding avian ecology migration and orientation, and GPS skills.


Will Sweet grew up as a birder in Sharon, Massachusetts. His passion for birds pushed him to attend Wheaton College in Massachusetts. He graduated in May of 2017 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Political Science. During his time at Wheaton, Will chose to study abroad with the Organization for Tropical Studies in South Africa. This experience drove him towards the field of ornithology. The summer following his semester abroad, Will returned to South Africa to aid in conducting point counts to help understand how habitat alteration by African Bush Elephants is changing avian community composition. During the fall of 2017, he returned to the field as a research technician for a University of Georgia PhD candidate conducting his research in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica. During this position, Will conducted point counts, mist netted and captured more than 80 species of birds, saw 472 species of birds, and helped attach GPS transmitters to Northern Emerald-Toucanets and Lesson’s Motmots.


Alex Wiebe started birding when he was 9 years old making it a major part of his life ever since. He started his undergraduate degree at Cornell University in 2015 and studies biological sciences and statistics there, with an emphasis in conservation. Alex’s research has highlighted the use of new statistical and technological methods in ecology and evolutionary biology, including using high speed cameras to film superb lyrebird courtship displays in Australia and tracking obligate ant-following antbirds in Panama with radio telemetry. Alex works with the eBird team at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on their Detectives de Aves and PROALAS (Programa de América Latina para Aves Silvestres) programs to provide educational outreach and develop avian survey methodology for conservation efforts.

Our Franzen fellows will be starting their projects this year, so be sure to check in and learn more about their exciting work! Congratulations to our winners!