Last summer, I completed my first field season at the Los Amigos Biological Station. My research focused on sampling and identifying dung beetles across a variety of habitats. As an avid birder and student of ornithology, I spent my time off birding, and quickly realized I wanted to come back to the station to complete another project focusing on the birdlife there. I am thrilled to be returning to Peru this summer under the Los Amigos Bird Observatory’s Franzen Fellowship program. My research will be focused on tinamous, a group of elusive ground-dwelling birds. Eleven species of tinamous are found at Los Amigos, the most anywhere in the world.
Remarkably little is known about the biology of these secretive birds. It is uncertain how so many species of tinamous can coexist in one location, and how they interact with one another. One species, the Brown Tinamou, is known mostly from the Andean cloud forests above 900 m in elevation, but is also found at a few scattered lowland sites in the southwestern Amazon, including Los Amigos. I will be studying how Brown Tinamous interact with other species of lowland tinamous, and how they differ from their montane relatives.
Los Amigos is a prime site for research and birding because its trail system gives quick access to many different habitats. Over 50 km of trails crisscross through bamboo, terra firme forest, floodplain, and oxbow lakes to provide quick access to a huge community of Amazonian birds. With almost 600 species of birds recorded around the trail system, even after months at the lodge I still encounter birds for the first time almost every day. Within a couple kilometers of the station it is not uncommon to encounter over 200 species in a day; the record is 345 species! I am excited to start my field season and look forward to the opportunity to further explore the incredible diversity of birds at Los Amigos.
– Alex Wiebe, Biologist, and Jonathan Franzen Fellow at the Los Amigos Bird Observatory