Birds of a Feather

Birds of Peru—so many species, so many eco systems.  This little tyke was swimming with its mom on Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake.

The Uros people construct and live on Floating Islands of the lake, and might’ve taken their cue from the birds.

The Uros domesticated the Ibis for its eggs–they live side by side.

In the Amazon jungle, villagers living along tributaries of the Amazon River raise chickens for eggs and meat.

Other birds, like Manolo the Mealy Parrot, are kept for pets….

…and watchbirds. (Don’t even think of touching his bread.)

They wander in and out of the houses like family.

We also saw a huge variety of birds living wild in the jungle, such as the Tiger Heron.

I believe this is a Social Flycatcher.  Maybe it just eats flies at parties?

Some birds I caught only a glimpse of on the fly.

Others looked familiar, like this Pygmy Owl.

Or this Kingfisher.  The Kingfishers fly so fast I could only get an image at night, when it was roosting.

Or this White-winged Swallow, which was different but similar to our swallows.

Most of the birds’ names I never knew or have forgotten, but they were fascinating.

This one looked like a lone hunter…

…while the vultures tended to hang in a crowd.

If we have birds in the U.S. that come out at night and sit on the beach looking like, well, a beach, I haven’t heard of them.

A Black-fronted Nunbird?  The coloring is right, but the beak is smaller and it’s so fluffy.  Maybe a chick?  Oh, well, a bird by any name would sing as sweet.

The birds in the Peruvian Andes were different than the ones we saw in the Amazon.

I saw this feathered friend at Machu Picchu.

This one too.  It’s not so different from the hummingbirds that sip nectar from the hanging baskets on my deck.  

But some are very different from the birds we have at home–like the Toucan who was natural history before I could get to my camera, or the Night Heron whose portrait came out fuzzy.  Most unique was the Huatzin, a pheasant-sized bird resembling something out of  prehistoric times.  Its face is blue and unfeathered, its crest large and spiky.  It makes its home in the swamps and marshy lakes in the jungle.

A crop is an enlarged pouch of the esophagus, where food is stored before it is digested.  Some birds have them, and some dinosaurs did too.  But the Huaztin’s crop is so large it makes flying difficult.  It uses its crop to digest food using bacterial fermentation, which makes them smell very bad.  The Amazon people call them ‘Stinkbirds’ and won’t eat them.   They croak, hiss, groan, and grunt.  Huatzin young have claws on their wings.  When pursued by hawks or arboreal predators, they drop from their nest into the water and claw their way back up the tree when it is safe.  Strange and fascinating!

I don’t see anything common about a bird, even the ones found in my own backyard.  Descended from dinosaurs, these feathered creatures are miraculous to me–so varied, so delicate, so powerful, most possessed of the gift of song and the superpower of flight.  All I need is a pair of binoculars and a camera, and I am off on a flight of fancy.

All images and words copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck
Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Birds.



  1. Fabulous photos. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks so much for the visit! Happy New Year!

  2. Letizia says:

    What a beautiful ornithological voyage you’ve taken us on to start the new year, Naomi! I recently discovered the photographer Eliot Porter and your photographs remind me of his in that you have captured the birds in their everyday routines.

    Happy new year!

    1. Thank you, Letizia! I will check out Eliot Porter. Happy new year!

  3. Meg says:

    BIrds always catch my eye, Naomi, and you’ve ‘captured’ these so beautifully. Isn’t it amazing how unique they all are.

    1. Dear Meg,
      Thanks for lighting for awhile. You have such interesting birds in Australia. I remember how a giant tree in the center of Cairns would come alive each sunset with roosting Lorikeets–such pretty birds, and so noisy!

  4. nutsfortreasure says:

    Very cool to see them from all around the globe! Happy New Years!

    1. Hi Eunice,
      Thanks for the visit. Happy New Year to you!

  5. Lovely shots! Thanks for sharing them.

    1. Thank you so much for the visit!

  6. I’d be in my seventh heaven seeing all those birds in real life, but would prefer not to smell one particular one for obvious reasons! You’re a very clever photographer, Naomi. They all look as if they’re posing for you.

    1. Thank you, Sarah. For every one of these shots, I have two or three very fuzzy photos!

  7. Some beautiful birds you’ve captured with your lens, Naomi. Love that Kingfisher’s comical face. I did have a giggle at your definition of a Social Flycatcher. 🙂

    1. Dear Sylvia,
      Thanks so much for dropping by. Don’t Kingfishers have an interesting and distinct profile? All over the world they are different, yet identifiable.

  8. I like birds but am no birder. I am always in awe of them. Maybe because they can fly and sing so sweetly–well, some croak. 😀

    When I was younger, either birds in picnic area were either not afraid of people (used to them) or they liked me because some came within a foot of me. 😉

    1. Hi Tess,
      I love to watch birds, though I don’t always know their names. Once, when my sister was painting in Alaska, a hummingbird came and landed on her paintbrush. I thought that only happened to princesses in Disney cartoons.

      1. This kind of closeness to wild life is breathtaking.

  9. scillagrace says:

    Fascinating! Quite a collection, for sure. Your ground nesting beach bird reminds me of the whippoorwill I almost stepped on at Death Valley. Today I was watching ducks being pushed from open water at the harbor as ice floes came in to shore. They had been huddled all together and then began to peel off like a great cloud. Black & white wood ducks filled the air like starlings over a corn field. Did I tell you how cold it is here? Below zero. If I were a bird, I’d be flying south!

    1. Dear Scilla,
      Thank you for sharing some birdwatching stories. I would have loved to have seen the Wood Ducks!
      We are reading all about the severe cold back there. I remember that frozen eyeball feeling from when I was a Michigander, and I don’t miss it at all.
      Best wishes for the New Year, Scilla. Stay warm!

  10. You’ve done very well, Naomi, to capture all these wonderful creatures (my efforts usually see the bird flying off at the edge of the shot, or fuzzily out of focus because I’ve pushed the zoom too far for a hand-held shot!). It’s terrific to see so many different species, out in their environment. What a trip you had!

    Happy New Year 🙂

    1. Dear Meredith,
      Thank you for the visit.
      The birds and the butterflies were among the most amazing sights we saw. Of course, the monkeys, too, but that is probably something you are very used to seeing right out your window!
      Best wishes for the New Year!

  11. elisaruland says:

    Naomi, I’ll go birding with you anytime, especially to exotic destinations like Peru. I loved your shots and stores. I especially like the little chick running along the floorboards between the sunlight and shade…lovely!

    1. Hi Elisa,
      Thanks so much for the visit. I was amazed by he variety of birds in Peru. I hope the New Year finds you well! Best wishes for 2014!

  12. bulldog says:

    What a brilliant share Naomi… love all the different birds… your beach bird is of the Nightjar family… we have many varieties in RSA…

    1. Thank you for the visit, and for an identification! I wouldn’t have known how to begin to find a name for this bird. Best wishes for the New Year!

  13. 4amWriter says:

    Oh, I love this because I love birds! If I had tons of money and tons of time, I’d spend my life birdwatching and then writing about it. I think that would be a great gig!

    1. Hi Kate,
      Birdwatching is a little like watching fish in an aquarium. Such a different kind of creature that is is fascinating and relaxing just to watch them go about their business.
      Thanks so much for the visit. Best wishes for the New Year!

  14. Well done! You’ve captured these lively, flighty models well. The chickens reminded me of the wild chickens, crossbred with protected jungle fowl and so also protected, in Hawaii . . . and warmth . . . very nice to look at warm photos in contrast to the snow outside. Hugs!

    1. Hi Mary,
      So nice to hear from you. I hope you are staying warm. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

  15. Roy McCarthy says:

    Great captures. Never in a zillion years could I persuade birds to pose like that for me – no idea how you do it.

    1. Dear Roy,
      You should have seen the ones that got away! Best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

  16. viveka says:

    Wow …. many stunning birds of a feather … beautiful captures. I hardly manage to get a dead bird to sit still long enough for me to be able to take a good photo. My favorite must be the two cheeky pink birds.

    1. Dear Viv,
      Your comment made me smile. Thanks for the visit. Happy New Year!

      1. viveka says:

        Thanks, all my pleasure.

  17. jakesprinter says:

    Beautiful birds collection Naomi, wish you luck for 2014 🙂

    1. Hi Jake,
      Thanks so much! It’s great to see you again. Wishing you all the best for the New Year!

  18. Ruth says:

    What a great gallery of interesting birds, Naomi. The vulture shot sets a definite foreboding mood. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a nice comment today. Happy New Year to you, too!

    1. Thank you, Ruth–it’s a pleasure to visit your blog–there’s always something interesting going on there!

  19. I really like that first photo 🙂

    1. Thank you! I love knowing which shots appeal to people. Thanks for the visit. Best wishes for the New Year!

      1. All the best to you as well 🙂

  20. pattisj says:

    Loved seeing your new bird friends. You’re right, some are very much like what we normally see while some are so different from anything we could imagine. How rude of them to not pose for a photo after you traveled so far to see them.

  21. Jamie Dedes says:

    This is so much fun. I love birds and bird watching. At one time I had love birds and finches.

    Learned some new things here and so enjoyed the photographs. You got some great shots.

    Thanks for sharing.

  22. I was taken with the Tiger Heron and the bird with the big crop. There are some interesting birds here, Naomi. I really enjoyed this bird watching trip!
    🙂 The one thing I’d really like about tropical places is the bird population! Of course. I recognized the Mealy immediately.

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