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Bird of the Month: Horned Screamer

May 13, 2017


Manu National Park –and therefore, Tambo Blanquillo Private Reserve- are globally recognized for the unprecedented diversity of birds –and other wildlife- that they host. More than 1000 bird species, have been identified inside Manu National Park, more than any other Park in the world.

Horned Screamers, Cocha Blanco – Photo: Jess Findlay

Horned Screamers, Cocha Blanco – Photo: Jess Findlay

With such a great diversity, it is not surprising that we might host one or two strange species, like the Hoatzin, which we featured in a blog a couple months ago, or the Horned Screamer, another crazy looking bird that we will talk about in today´s blog post.

Locally known as “Camungo” –the name of one of our Oxbow Lakes-, Horned Screamers are birds endemic to the Amazon Lowlands, and are always found near slow-moving, big bodies of water, such as the Madre de Dios River, or our three Oxbow Lakes, Blanco, Camungo, Blanquillo. More than 600 species have been recorded in our Oxbow Lakes.

Horned Screamer – Photo: Rob Williams

Horned Screamer – Photo: Rob Williams

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Horned Screamer Family – Photo: Bertie Gregory

Horned Screamers might very well be the definition of “Bizarre”. These black feathered, turkey-sized birds have an anatomical feature that sets them apart from all other birds, a horn. This appendix is made out of chitin, the same macromolecule that makes our hair and nails. The real evolutionary advantage of this horn is unknown, but scientists speculate that it is used as a demonstration of health and virility.

Habitat degradation and hunting have extirpated Horned Screamers from most of the Peruvian Amazon, however there are a still few refuges. The best place in Peru to see and photograph this amazing species, is without a doubt, Cocha Blanco, the biggest of our three Oxbow Lakes. A quiet and peaceful paddle into this gigantic lake, will let you see and photograph many species, such as Agami Heron, Hoatzins, Kingfishers, and Horned Screamers. Other inhabitants of this idyllic lake are the endangered Giant River Otters, the largest otter in the world. These giants need to eat up to 3kg of fish per day! Therefore, sustainable populations are found only on pristine places, where the aquatic resources have never been utilized by humans. In Tambo Blanquillo, we have been working with the Frankfurt Zoological Society for several years now, keeping track of otter families that live within our reserve.

Horned Screamer at Cocha Blanco – Photo: Luis Felipe Raffo

Horned Screamer at Cocha Blanco – Photo: Luis Felipe Raffo

If you wish to visit us and enjoy a few days of comfortable adventure, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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