Key Land Acquisition Boosts Imperiled Birds' Prospects at Peru's Abra Patricia Reserve

Contact: Philip Tanimoto, International Conservation Project Officer, American Bird Conservancy | Phone: 540: 253-5780 | Email:

Long-whiskered Owlets and many other threatened bird species will greatly benefit from new land acquired to expand the size of Abra Patricia Reserve in northern Peru. Photo by Alan Van Norman. (More photos available for news outlets; please contact us if interested.)

Long-whiskered Owlets and many other threatened bird species will greatly benefit from new land acquired to expand the size of Abra Patricia Reserve in northern Peru. Photo by Alan Van Norman. (More photos available for news outlets; please contact us if interested.)

(Washington, D.C., September 10, 2018) Two key properties totaling 104 acres have been acquired in northern Peru, expanding the Abra Patricia Reserve to over 25,250 acres and helping protect dwindling habitat for one of the world's rarest birds, the Long-whiskered Owlet, along with 23 other globally threatened bird species. The new parcels, which sit adjacent to a highway running through the reserve, reduce the likelihood of incursions by loggers and settlers, while connecting previously purchased tracts.

The acquisitions were funded by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and completed by Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN), ABC's partner in Peru. The Abra Patricia area is recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a critical site for both the endangered Long-whiskered Owlet and the endangered Ochre-fronted Antpitta.

The Abra Patricia Reserve is located in cloud forests in the Department of Amazonas and is adjacent to the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. It is one of the world's most bird-rich pieces of real estate, home to more than 500 bird species, including many endemic to Peru, and attracts birders from around the world.

In addition to the Long-whiskered Owlet and Ochre-fronted Antpitta, other rare, threatened birds include the Royal Sunangel, Johnson's Tody-Tyrant, Ochre-breasted Tody-Tyrant, and Pale-billed Antpitta.

Several songbirds that breed in North America, such as the Swainson's Thrush, Blackburnian Warbler, and Cerulean Warbler, winter in the forests of Abra Patricia, and the reserve protects a watershed crucial to thousands of people in nearby communities. Abra Patricia is also home to the critically endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey and a diversity of rare orchids and other wildlife.

The dense cloud forest of northern Peru is home to more than 500 bird species, many of which are found nowhere else. The newly acquired tract helps secure the integrity of northern Peru's montane cloud forest, an ecosystem vital to the water supply of thousands of people throughout the region. Photo by Tino Aucca

Discovered in 1976, the Long-whiskered Owlet is one of the world's tiniest owls, measuring just five inches tall. The bird's long, wispy facial feathers extend past its head, creating the appearance of long whiskers. This species lives exclusively in tropical montane cloud forest. Following years of extensive deforestation, this geographically restricted forest type is now limited to well-defined elevation bands within remote mountains that are steep and difficult to farm.

The reserve at Abra Patricia consists of land privately owned by ECOAN (much of which is recognized by the Peruvian national system of protected areas as the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area) as well as a 40-year conservation concession on forestry lands. The newly acquired lands were private inholdings within the Abra Patricia Reserve located along a highway that bisects the reserve, and their acquisition allows for further consolidation of management of the area by ECOAN.

“The conservation areas that we are establishing across northern Peru are of the utmost importance to assure the protection of our endangered wildlife communities,” adds Walter Cosio, ECOAN's project coordinator for northern Peru. “These areas protect Peru's national tree, the quina tree—a natural source of the anti-malaria drug quinine. These cloud forest habitats also protect vast water resources that benefit the people, as well as the wildlife, of northern Peru.”

The Chestnut Antpitta, a Peruvian cloud forest endemic, and the Rusty-tinged Antpitta are regular visitors to the feeding station at Abra Patricia. Photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Located along the Northern Peru Birding Route, Abra Patricia is one of the premier birding destinations in Peru, itself one of the premier countries for birding in the world. The Owlet Lodge at Abra Patricia often serves as a base for birding tourists who typically spend several days at other regional birding spots, such as WaqankiHuembo, and Gotas de Agua. Owlet Lodge is a four- to five-hour drive from the airport in Tarapoto, and the spectacular Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird can be seen just an hour's drive away at the Huembo Reserve.

The birding experience at Abra Patricia just got a lot better this year: Both Rusty-tinged and Chestnut Antpittas now make daily appearances at Owlet Lodge, visiting feeding stations stocked with worms. To learn more about the ecotourism and birding opportunities in the Abra Patricia region, visit the Conservation Birding website.

Support for the land protection and acquisition was generously provided by Quick Response Biodiversity Fund, David and Patricia Davidson, Larry Thompson, Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Sandy Komito, Judith Randal, Laurie Dann, Michael and Lorna Anderberg, Field Guides, and an anonymous donor.


American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (@abcbirds).

Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) is a leading Peruvian conservation organization specializing in working with local communities in Peru to conserve biodiversity by promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. ECOAN has helped establish or improve management within 15 protected areas in Peru.