Andean Cock-of-the-rock in Manu/ Peru

Andenklippenvogel oder AndenfelsenhahnThe spectacular Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) suddenly sits on a branch in the middle of the thicket. In the middle of a pristine Cloud Forest lies the legendary spot, where you can photograph the most beautiful orange bird full-frame.

Whether you travel in the mist forest of Manu or into the wilderness of Amazonia, starting point in each case is the city of the Inka, Cusco, at 3.500 m height. Over treeless ande passes and past small villages the off-road vehicle transports you towards the north-east to the Kosñipata Valley at the South East of Peru. The transition from the dry zone takes place almost seamlessly at 4,000 m asl. to the eternally damp region of the fog, from bright sunshine to twilight. After five hours drive you reach the tree border, which is located in the tropical Andes at about 3,500 m. This is where the Manu National Park begins. Up to heights of 3,000 m, the narrow pass road is lined with bizarre “elfin forests”, barely man-high, gnarled, lichen-covered trees that are hundreds of years old and still have only a trunk diameter of less than 10 cm, The further you descend the higher trees are. In the fog, sometimes on the silhouettes of mighty trees are visible, and the trees are covered with bromeliads. After a further three hours of adventurous journey you reach the target location: The valley of the Rio Kosnipata on the southeast edge of the Manu National Park. The ornithological highlight is the Andean Cock-of-the-rock. In the midst of the cloud forest is the legendary place, where you can photograph the spectacular Red Rock-fountain in full format. Near the simple lodge, with the auspicious name “Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge”, you will find a camouflage deck, from which you can observe a very specific branch, on which these extraordinary birds regularly perform their display with balancing dances. The traditional display branch is about 8 m away, without disturbing branches or leaves in front. Apart from the light conditions an optimal photographic situation.

At first I could not see a single bird. No Andean Cock-of-the-rock could be spotted for hours when I was hiding in the well camouflaged blind. I heard the Andean Cock-of-the-rock calling, saw him flying, too, and spotted the brown female and the bright orange-red male high up in the tree canopy. But there was no cock on the branch right in front of me.

But suddenly he stood there in the middle of the lek: a magnificent red bird, with his comb really reminding a cock. He jumped from branch to branch, presented himself from the front, then from the left, then from behind. Unique. And no 10 meters away.

The Andean Cock-of-the-rock breeds between November and December, when there is a rich variety of fruits. The chance to meet him at his lek is greatest in the time immediately before. The dry season from April to September is not ideal for photographing birds, especially in the first half, although from the weather it is the best time of the year. Like everywhere, the rainforest of the Manu National Park is a good place to go when the birds appear at a certain time in a certain place, and these are usually the fruit-bearing trees. Since in the dry season only very few trees are fruiting, the birds – most of them are feeding on fruits – have to travel long distances in order to cover their daily food requirements. If one does not find such a tree by the knowledge of the guide, or by chance, e.g. Gourds, which fruit throughout the year, it remains with volatile encounters with the jungle inhabitants of the cloud forest.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find mainly in the Western Palearctic – but not only. Trips to remote places to capture images of rare birds were very successful. The nice images of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if bird-lens.com could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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