Understanding The Birds Of Tahuamanu
October 7, 2020
Our bird survey at the Tahuamanu Biological Station is determining the ornithological diversity that the area protects, as well as establishes a baseline for their conservation and the development of birdwatching activities for ecotourists.
This project was carried out by creating two field camps for the researchers to cover all of the major habitat types. The first camp was based at the Tahuamanu station itself, from which the tours to the nearby Tahuamanu River area were made, enabling researchers to visit the lowland Amazonian forests and bamboo forests. The second camp was located outside the station, in order to understand the abundance and diversity of birds in the surrounding areas including unique riverbanks, grasslands and other lowland forests.
Researchers at both camps used a “Play Back” method (a best practice proposed in the research of Villareal et al. 2004), which consists of using recordings of birds at a moderate volume to draw them near, combined with a very light weight 40-foot net to capture the ones that fly by. Once captured, the birds were safely identified and photographed and released back into their habitat. We used world-class specialized field biology guides to ensure the proper identification and classification of these birds.
In total, we identified 267 species of birds belonging to 179 genus and 49 taxonomy families. The best represented species were the flycatcher family (Tyrannidae) with 28 species, followed by Ovenbirds (Furnaridae) and Antbirds (Thamnophilidae) with 25 species each (see the figure below for an overall distribution of the most commonly-found species).
Twelve of these species were listed under different categories of threat on the IUCN Red List, such as the endangered White-bellied parrot (Pionites leucogaster) and the Channel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus).
Additionally, this species of Rufous-fronted antthrush is known in just two places in Bolivia. Living in riverbanks, it is difficult to observe as it’s very elusive. We were able to capture and photograph this bird as part of this project, which shows the importance of conservation areas and research stations like Tahuamanu in keeping threatened species like this one thriving.
Lastly, we also were able to identify four new species that were never recorded before in this area! These species were the White-throated King bird (Tyrannus albogularis), Slender-billed Xenops (Xenops tenuirostris), Elegant Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus elegans), and the Ocellated Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus ocellatus). These findings add another layer of value to demonstrate to local authorities and communities the importance of protecting this area: to avoid the extinction of these species, let scientists know where they can go to conduct avian research, and where ecotourists can go to observe these species.
Special thanks to The Sheldon and Audrey Katz Foundation for their generous support that makes this project possible.