December 19, 2016
The Snail Kite is one of the few gregarious raptors in the world, and it is distributed along the Americas, reaching the Everglades in the North, and the Iguaçu falls in the South. Although it is a very widespread species and is distributed all along the lowlands of the Amazon Rainforest, they are restricted to pristine lakes and oxbow lakes. Snail Kites are a highly specialized hunter, with only one prey, the apple snail. However, these snails are very susceptible to heavy metals and contaminants in the water, so with a little disturbance, they –and the Snail Kites- will completely disappear from the area.
In Tambo Blanquillo we have regular records of them in our three oxbow Lakes. However, we have an incredibly high population density in Camungo Oxbow Lake, as the lake structure provides a perfect habitat for the snails that they prey on. It is not unusual to see several individuals hunting beside you, as you paddle along this idyllic location, as the sun rises early in the morning.
Once the sun reaches a higher point along the horizon, other raptors will start using the thermal currents to get aloft. An average morning at Cocha Camungo will provide more than seventy bird species, and when combined with the nearby Canopy Tower, it is not uncommon to reach more than one hundred. After a productive morning in the lake, a short walk through a pristine rainforest and a quick boat ride will take you back to the Lodge, where you will enjoy a delicious and healthy lunch, as well as get some time to rest before your next adventure. During lunch, you can enjoy the several species of hummingbirds that visit naturally -we don’t believe in hummingbird feeders- the flowers in our gardens, as well as the resident pair of Roadside Hawks that hunt for insects in the soccer field.
Going back to the Snail Kites, due to having specialized in a single source of food, the Snail Kites show some remarkable evolutionary adaptations. First of all, their beak is shaped in a long and coiled way –illustrated above-, this shape allows the snail kite to get the snails out of their shells quickly and effortlessly. In addition to that, their eyesight has evolved to eliminate the reflection and refraction of water, thus maximizing their chances of catching submerged snails.
In addition to Snail Kites, Camungo Oxbow Lake hosts another 350 bird species. Its unique structure makes it home to a lot of very secretive and rare birds, such as Limpkins, Purus Jacamars –pictured above- and American-pygmy Kingfishers. If you wish to visit the unique attraction in the Amazon, please do not hesitate to contact us.