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This Bird Just Might Make You a Birder

By Aislyn Greene


From the July/August 2016 issue

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Björn Anderson

What's the rush? There are fewer than 2,000 of these birds left in the Amazon

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Were there ever a winged beauty that could convert the blasé crowd to Audubon members, it’s the “marvelous spatuletail” (that’s its official name) found in northern Peru.

The hummingbird, with its punky purple crest, is as small as your thumb but moves with bravado. It’s all in the lengthy tail feathers. The males raise the spatula-like discs at the feathers’ tips, à la Dracula, over their head. They then frantically flap them while clicking with their beaks. Like many odd behaviors in life, it’s an attempt to win over a partner, the more demure female spatuletail.

YouTube does not do this mating ritual justice, but sadly, if you don’t visit soon (try a 10-day tour of the region with outfitter Wings), it may be the only way to witness the spectacle. As landowners continue burning down trees to make room for cattle, the bird moves higher up the endangered-species list. From $4,650. 


LEOPARDS: On Intrepid’s four-day Chitwan tour in Nepal, you’ll travel from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park, where leopards coexist with Bengal tigers. From $470.

WHITE RHINOS: At andBeyond’s Phinda lodge in South Africa, guests can work with conservationists to track, dart, and microchip white rhinos to help prevent poaching. From $3,200. 

EMPEROR PENGUINS: Identify these icedependent (i.e., very endangered) penguins on INCA’s Antarctica cruise. It docks at the birds’ rarely seen home of Snow Hill Island. From $14,395. 

>>Next: What It's Like to Trek Through Sweden's Reindeer Country

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