Day 52: The Price of an Owl

Bargain birding in northern Peru.

February 21, 2015, Leymebamba, Peru — What a difference a good night’s sleep makes! I slept almost 12 hours last night, and woke up this morning feeling relatively refreshed, if still hacking up the occasional globs of green goo. My fever broke during the night. So, it’s on again: Carlos, Glenn, Julio, Gunnar (who flew up from Lima late last night to rejoin us) and I continued east along the northern Peru transect.

Because we slept in, we skipped the first hours after dawn, and missed a couple of good birds like the endemic Little Inca-Finch, but it was worth the extra rest. We spent the remainder of the day making our way toward a little town in the hills called Leymebamba, birding en route, and picked off a few nice sightings.

At a place called Chillo Lodge, we stopped along the roadside to look for the Koepke’s Screech-Owl which sometimes roosts in a big Eucalyptus tree there. After a few minutes, a caretaker came out of the lodge and stood inside the gate, which featured a metal cutout of a Marvelous Spatuletail (maybe we’ll see one of those soon!). “What are you looking for?” she asked, and Gunnar said “lechuzas”–owls. “It’s right here in the yard and I know where it is,” she called, then added, “but you’ll have to pay to see it!” After some negotiation, we decided it was worth a few soles (about one American dollar) and she opened the gate. Sure enough, two little screech-owls stared down from a concealed branch, looking surprised to have visitors. The caretaker said they feed these owls ground beef at night (!) which is why they stick there. 

As we walked out, Glenn couldn’t help himself from joking around:

“There’s a special on hummingbirds today! Two for the price of one! Take a package or choose your species. Care to see our menu? We’ll even throw in a Rufous-collared Sparrow for free! Come on, let’s make a deal!”

New birds today: 18

Year list: 1207

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