Not only does South America host more bird species than any other continent, but four South American nations boast the world’s highest national birdlists; Colombia (nearly 1,900 species!), Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. These incredible numbers are far in excess of those supported by similar sized regions on other continents. However, South America generally has less families and genera than Africa or Asia, meaning that these numbers are made up by numerous species within single families or genera. Hummingbirds, tyrant flycatchers, antbirds, furnarids and tanagers come to mind immediately, with each of these groups supporting a mind-boggling array of species. While the reasons for this are complex, physical barriers such as South America’s diverse mountainous geography and massive bisecting rivers have resulted in genetic isolation, which in time leads to species evolution.
Our February image of the month is a Red-necked Tanager photographed by Adam Riley at Ubatuba during Rockjumper’s October 2010 Brazil tour, one of 33 tanagers seen (of 685 species on the tour.) Our November Peru tour scored 58 tanagers (of over 900 species recorded on the tour) and in January, our Colombia tour had a remarkable 60 tanagers (of 716 tour species.) We invite you to join Rockjumper on future tours to these mega-diverse birding nations. Please visit our website www.rockjumperbirding.com or contact our office for further information on our upcoming departures to Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.