Marine birds of Peru

The ocean off Peru is fast becoming known as one of the world’s great pelagic birding spots. More than 90 species of pelagic birds have been registered in Peruvian waters. The reason for this is the richness of the Peruvian coast, which in turn is the result of two water movements: The Humboldt Current, which flows northwards along the Peruvian coast and brings cool oxygen rich waters from Antarctica, and the strong upwelling close to the Peruvian coast (because of the very short continental shelf) which brings up lots of nutrients.This causes a very high productivity in algae, being the primary level of the food chain, which consequently is the basis for an extraordinary rich marine life.

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Page author: Stefan Austermühle

The species that can be seen include several species that only occur in the waters of the Humboldt Current off Chile and Peru, species that breed in the south-west Pacific off Australia and New Zealand and appear seasonally off South America, four species that breed in Galapagos and commute to Peruvian waters to feed, species from the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic islands, as well as species that breed in the northern hemisphere and migrate south to Peruvian waters. These species combine to an impressive community of pelagic birds that congregate in large numbers offering an impressive spectacle.

The highest concentrations of birds are found, where the continental shelf drops away sharply to depths of approximately 1500 m. The exact distance varies along the coast.

Some of the birds that can be observed closer to the coast are the endangered Humboldt penguin, the endangered Peruvian diving petrel, the endemic Inca terns, pelicans, endemic band-tailed gulls, grey and kelp gulls, neotropic cormorant, guanay cormorant and red-legged shag, Peruvian and blue-footed booby, black skimmer and seasonally Franklins gulls, elegant and royal tern. Beaches and rocky shorelines hold the famous endemic Peruvian seaside cinclodes, whimbrel, ruddy turnstones and sanderlings, as well as surfbirds.

Elliot’s storm-petrels and sooty shearwaters soon become common when traveling towards the open sea, as well as Pink-footed shearwater.

Moving further from shore, activity declines until one reaches the continental shelf where one encounters large numbers of Wilson’s and Elliot storm-petrels. White-chinned petrels, Cape petrels and waved albatrosses are regularly found in smaller numbers. Searching through the flocks of birds usually is rewarded with Markham’s, wedge-rumped and ringed (Hornby’s) storm-petrels and during the austral summer black storm-petrel is regular. Westland petrels are to be looked for amongst the white-chinned petrels and species such as southern fulmar, southern and northern giant petrel, as well as Cook’s petrel can be seen with luck. Another attraction is the swallow-tailed gulls, found roosting on the sea. It is the only nocturnal gull in the world and rarely flies during day time.

Seasonally during the northern winter these waters are visited by all three migratory jaegers (Pomarine, Arctic and long-tailed), Sabine’s gulls, grey and red-necked phalaropes. During the austral winter Chilean and South Polar skuas are found. From June to September one can expect to see a variety of other albatross species with black-browed, grey-headed and Salvin’s albatross being regular guests and several other species being possible.

Following find information, photographs and film-bits of the marine birds of Peru:

Peruvian pelican (Pelecanus thagus)
Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata)
Southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus)
Northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli)
Buller’s Albatross (Thalassarche bulleri)
Shy Albatross (Thalasarche cauta)
Gray-headed Albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma)
Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris)
Juan-Fernandez petrel (Pterodroma externa)
Kermadec petrel (Pterodroma neglecta)
Masatierra (De Filippi’s) petrel (Pterodroma defilippiana)
Cook’s petrel (Pterodroma cookie)
Stejneger’s petrel (Pterodroma longirostris)
Galapagos petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia)
Southern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides)
Wedge-tailed shearwater (Puffinus pacificus)
Buller’s shearwater (Puffinus bulleri)
Pink-footed shearwater (Puffinus creatopus)
Audubon’s shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri)
Little shearwater (Puffinus assimilis)
Flesh-footed shearwater (Puffinus carneipes)
Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus)
Gray petrel (Procellaria cinerea)
White-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis)
Westland petrel (Procellaria westlandica)
Parkinson’s (Black) petrel (Procellaria parkinsoni)
Cape petrel (Daption capense)
Peruvian diving petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii)
Dove (Antarctic) prion (Pachyptila desolata)
Slender-billed (Thin-billed) prion (Pachyptila belcheri)
Broad-billed prion (Pachyptila vittata)
Ringed (Hornby’s) storm-petrel (Ocanodroma hornbyi)
Least storm-petrel (Oceanodroma microsoma)
Wedge-rumped storm-petrel (Oceanodroma tethys)
Band-rumped storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro)
Leach’s storm-petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)
Markham’s storm-petrel (Oceanodroma markhami)
Black storm-petrel (Oceanodroma melania)
White-bellied storm-petrel (Fregetta grallaria)
Black-bellied storm-petrel (Fregetta tropica)
White-faced storm-petrel (Pelagodroma marina)
Wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus)
White-vented (elliot’s) storm-petrel (Oceanites gracilis)
Nazca booby (Sula granti)
Masked booby (Sula dactylata)
Brown booby (Sula leucogaster)
Red-footed booby (Sula sula)
Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii)
Peruvian booby (Sula variegate)
Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)
Cape Gannet (Morus capensis)
Red-tailed tropicbird (Phaeton rubicaudata)
Red-billed tropicbird (Phaeton aethereus)
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor)
Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
Guanay cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii)
Red-legged cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi)
Parasitic jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Long-tailed jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudatus)
Pomarine jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)
South polar skua (Stercorarius maccormicki)
Chilean skua (Stercorarius chilensis)
Herring gull (Larus argentinus)
Kelp gull (Larus dominicanus)
Band-tailed gull (Larus belcheri)
Gray gull (Larus modestus)
Laughing gull (Larus atricilla)
Franklin’s gull (Larus pipixcan)
Gray-hooded gull (Larus cirrocephalus)
Brown-hooded gull (Larus maculipennis)
Andean gull (Larus serranus)
Swallow-tailed gull (Creagrus furcatus)
Sabine’s gull (Xema sabini)
Inca tern (Larosterna inca)
Least tern (Sternula antillarium)
Peruvian tern (Sternula lorata)
Royal tern (Thalasseus maximus)
Elegant tern (Thalasseus elegans)
Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
South-American tern (Stern hirundinacea)
Snowy-crowned tern (Sterna trudeaui)
Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
Sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus)
Black tern (Chlidonias niger)
Black skimmer (Rynchops niger)

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Page author: Stefan Austermühle

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