Bolivia is rich in both plant and animal biodiversity. The country encompasses a wide range of habitats from the Andes mountains to the Pantanal, a large wetlands area. Within these habitats is over 35% of the fauna found in South America. This includes more than half of the neo-tropical bird species in the world. In fact, Bolivia is believed to have the 6th greatest number of bird species of any other country. This article takes a look at some of the endemic bird species found here.
Endemic Birds of Bolivia
The first bird on the list is the blue-throated macaw, which grows to around 33 inches in length and has a 3-foot wingspan. The blue-throated macaw is characterized by its bright blue upper body and wings and bright yellow chest, stomach, and cheeks. This large, colorful bird is endemic to Los Llanos de Moxo, and area in the north-central part of Bolivia. Seen flying or walking on the ground, this bird species is usually part of a monogamous pair. Pairs breed once a year and lay between 1 and 3 eggs, which hatch after nearly 4 weeks. The blue-throated macaw is listed as critically endangered due to its small population size, between 350 and 400 adult individuals, and its small habitat. Its population began declining after it gained popularity in the pet industry.
The cliff parakeet grows up to 11.3 inches in length and weighs between 4 and 5 ounces. It is characterized by its unique appearance, which includes a bright green back and wings, blue feathers on the tips of the wings and tail, a light grey face and chest, and a bright yellow stomach. This bird species is considered common and inhabits the valleys of central Bolivia, preferring the cliff areas between 4,265 and 9,840 feet above sea level. Its diet consists of seeds and sometimes grain from nearby agricultural fields. Although unknown, its population is believed to be stable.
The black-hooded sunbeam belongs to the hummingbird family. It is a dark purple almost black color with an iridescent-blue back and rust-colored tail. The habitat of this bird species is restricted to a very small area in the northern part of the Andes of Bolivia. Here, the black-hooded sunbeam lives in the open shrubland found between the base of the mountain and the higher slopes. Despite its very limited range, this is not considered at-risk due to its stable population size.
The Bolivian spinetail is a recent bird discovery, first documented and classified in the 1990’s. It can be found within a very small area in western Bolivia along the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains. Here, it prefers dry forest habitats and is believed to have a population size somewhere between 1,600 and 6,700 adult individuals. Its population has been decreasing due to habitat loss and the Bolivian spinetail is now listed as endangered.
Other endemic birds of Bolivia can be found in the table below.
Population Threats and Conservation Efforts
One common threat for these birds, particularly the blue throated macaw, has been the trapping of them for trade in the pet industry. To combat this, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been implemented to protect these birds, as well as other plants and animals. Many nonprofits have come together to protect these birds by monitoring nests and young, providing nutrition when necessary. Additionally, they have established some protected areas to prevent continued habitat destruction.