With over 3,000 species, the list of birds of South America comprises the most diverse avifauna (birdlife) known to man. Furthermore, new species turn up every now and them. Not in vain South America it's been named the bird continent, making it a paradise-like for birdwatching enthusiasts worldwide. Equally impressive is the range of habitats on which they thrive.
From the heights of the Andes, where the condor reigns, to a myriad other ecosystems such as pampas, pantanal, cerrado, caatinga, coastal, desert, cloud forest, forest, tundra and the ice region of Southern Patagonia.
Let's just consider that only the Amazon rainforest is home to over 1,000 species of birds, each of them segregating themselves to a particular niche in this vast and complex ecosystem, in order to survive and to reproduce.
The imposing Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) - one of the world's largest out of the 50 species of eagles- flies over the canopy to feed on monkeys, sloths, opossums as well as reptiles and other birds, while little hummingbirds would target insects and also néctar (which makes them important pollinators) to live on.
The popular toucan - family Ramphastidae - with over forty species found in the rainforest, has the Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) as its biggest representative. Armed with a long bill, with a loud call and colorful feathers, they nest on tree hollows and feed on fruits as well as insects and small lizards.
Nuts and seeds is the favorite diet of the parrot family. True parrots (Psittacidae) and the Arinae sub-family (macaws) is a very common sight in the rainforest. Colorful, social, intelligent birds- they can imitate peoples' voices - which makes them vulnerable to pet trade, amongst other threats posed to many birds of South America at present time.
In fact, according to Endangered Species International Inc., about 1,200 species of birds - approximately 12% of all species worldwide - are considered to the threatened of endangered. By definition, an endangered species applies to an animal or plant that is present in such small numbers that it is in danger of extinction.
Deforestation by logging, indiscriminated burning for agriculture and cattle rising, and inappropriate mining techniques are some of the reasons contributing to the loss of habitat or plain disappearance of plant and animal life in the Amazon rainforest.
For a comprehensive list of birds of South America by country, I'd like to invite you to visit the excellent site of Daan Vreugdenhil - PhD in Conservation Ecology - with over four decades dedicated to his passion...
To help us get a visual perspective, here is a very modest gallery showcasing some of the most beautiful birds that inhabit this magical environment...
If you have enjoyed the birds of South America gallery and wish to take an active stand in order to help preserve their very existence, here is an outstanding initiative to rescue nature from the undiscriminating advance of the so called civilization.
It is named Adopt a Ranger and you can find more info here.