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Birds of the Aquicuana Reserve

The 20,000 hectares of Aquicuana Lake Reserve is home to many species of Amazonian flora and fauna. Our avifauna includes the threatened Masked Antpitta (endemic to Riberalta, Bolivia; recorded at several distinct locales inside the Reserve) and the threatened White-throated Toucan, as well as 4 species of large Ara macaws. Preliminary birding efforts have yielded 302 resident bird species recorded within an hour from the main Pisatahua lodge, including several important first registers for El Beni. With the help of guests and researchers, we hope to add more species to the list - we estimate there are more than 300 in total.

To view a full list of recorded birds, click here.

The density of species and variety of habitats including the lake, its surrounding marshes and varzeas (seasonally flooded forests), as well as a network of hiking trails through primary rainforest, make the Reserve a premier birding and wildlife viewing destination in Bolivia.

Speckled Chachalaca (Ortalis guttata)

Speckled Chachalaca (Ortalis guttata)

Look out for this large bird (50cm) foraging for fruit on low branches, often in family flocks. It has mostly brown upperparts with its head and neck greyer with specks, as well as a bright red throat.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Striated Heron (Butorides striata)

Striated Heron (Butorides striata)

This small heron can be found foraging in the marshes surrounding the lake. Don’t be fooled by their short necks and hunched appearance - when feeding they can extend their impressively long necks.

Agami Heron (Agamia agami)

Agami Heron (Agamia agami)

The most brilliantly-colored of all herons, with its teal green, blue and chestnut red plumage. It is usually quiet and reclusive, but keep an eye out for them close to the water’s edge.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis)

Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis)

This mostly fish-eating hawk likes to be close to the water. It is easily identified by its rufous upperparts and distinctive black “collar” under its neck.

Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

This is a large bird of prey with orange-red claws and a hooked beak specially evolved for catching snails. Look for it soaring or perching near the water.

Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana)

Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana)

These common residents of the Lake have bright chestnut-brown plumage on the back with the rest of the body a glossy blue-black. It has light yellow wings visible in flight. Its juveniles have pure white underparts and brown upperparts.

Large-billed Tern (Phaetusa simplex)

Large-billed Tern (Phaetusa simplex)

One of the most widespread waterbirds on the lake, and capable of spectacular dives especially during the dry season.

Greater Ani (Crotophaga major)

Greater Ani (Crotophaga major)

This noisy and active bird, along with the smaller Smooth-billed Ani, is one of the most easily spotted in the Reserve and nearby Riberalta, usually flitting through the trees in large groups. Their wide repertoire of sounds include croaking and loud alarm calls.

Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis)

Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis)

A famously odd-looking bird, camouflaged by day perched on tree stumps or high branches. Your best bet for seeing this bird is a nighttime boat ride along the river, scanning the trees for reflections of its eyes, or listening for its distinctive haunting call at dawn and dusk.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)

Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)

The Ringed Kingfisher is the largest of the American kingfishers at 38cm, and can be seen in flight over the water or diving from its perch. Also look out for its more diminutive cousins the Green and Rufous Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, and the Amazon Kingfisher.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Black-fronted Nunbird (Monasa nigrifrons)

Black-fronted Nunbird (Monasa nigrifrons)

Black puffbird with a thick red beak. You can spot these docile birds perched on a branch, occasionally in groups.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)

Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)

This alert and active bird may resemble a large hummingbird at first sight, with its shining green upperparts and large thick beak of around 5cm. They are solely insectivorous, usually spotted calmly sallying from their forest perch to catch flies.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis)

Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis)

This attractive toucan has yellow underparts with a red-chestnut band across and is chestnut-brown across the side of its head. You can even spot it performing acrobatics like hanging upside down from a tree to get fruit.

Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus)

Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus)

Keep an eye out for this magnificent woodpecker swooping through the trees, often with its mate in tow. The Aquicuana Reserve is home to two of the largest woodpeckers in Bolivia - Lineated and Crimson Crested Woodpeckers.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos)

Crimson-crested Woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos)

It can be differentiated from the other similar Lineated Woodpecker by facial markings and by the white lines on its back, which meet to form a ‘V’.

Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

As its name suggests, its call is a series of laugh-sounding yelps. Also known as a snake hawk, this falcon feeds on both venomous and non-venomous snakes.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Blue-headed Parrot (Pionus menstruus)

Blue-headed Parrot (Pionus menstruus)

This parrot is a common resident in the Reserve along with 13 other parrot species. Its blue-colored head makes it easy to identify.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)

The iconic Scarlet Macaw is one of the 4 large Ara macaw species found in the Reserve. Keep an eye out for its beautiful striking red, blue and yellow colors in flight.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Masked Antpitta (Hylopezus auricularis)

Masked Antpitta (Hylopezus auricularis)

The Masked Antpitta is an uncommon bird endemic to Riberalta and its surroundings in the Bolivian Amazon, and is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ (IUCN) due to its limited range and ongoing habitat degradation. The Aquicuana Reserve is one of the few places where they can be found, and is likely their only legally protected habitat - it has been recorded at several distinct locales within the Reserve. It has a dark brown ‘mask’ around the eyes underneath a grey crown with a streaked throat and olive-brown upperparts. It is often more easily heard than seen with its distinctive vocalizations.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)

Southern Scrub-Flycatcher (Sublegatus modestus)

Southern Scrub-Flycatcher (Sublegatus modestus)

This medium-sized flycatcher is a resident at the Reserve. It has greyish-brown upperparts and yellow underparts with a grey chest.

Band-tailed Manakin (Pipra fasciicauda)

Band-tailed Manakin (Pipra fasciicauda)

This small, adorable bird has distinctive orange-red plumage and a bright red crown. Like many other birds, the female has duller plumage and is olive green and yellow.
(Photo credit: Vincent Vos/CC BY-NC)