3 Birds From The Amazon You Can See In The US


Rachel Kinane

Summer Internship 2020

English Major at West Chester University.

Learn more about Rachel Kinane

June 30, 2020

3 Birds From The Amazon You Can See In The US


While the past few months have been chaotic, one thing that has not changed is our ability to see birds from the Amazon from our porches. There are several bird species that spend winter in the northern South-American Tropics and migrate to the US East Coast for the spring.

However, there are aspects that threaten their habitats in the US. For example, Climate Change has caused these birds’ habitats to shift, resulting in food, nesting and water shortages. It took 35 years for about 59 bird species to find northern areas that were suitable temperatures (Rhiannon 2012).

Predation has also proven to be a threat to their habitats, especially domestic cats in the US. For cats, a bird’s nest box is a snack, and they tend to snatch the eggs or young birds from inside them.

Three of these birds whose habitats are affected by these threats are the Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting and Bicknell’s Thrush.

Scarlet Tanager

Scientific Name: Piranga Olivacea| Habitat: Forests| Length: 6.3-6.7 inches

Source: The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology

Scarlet Tanagers are widely regarded as some of the most beautiful birds to fly across both the United States East Coast and the South American Tropics. Both male and female Scarlet Tanagers communicate through song (like all birds do), but the female’s sound is more delicate, and often used to respond to the male’s song while preparing their nests. The majority of their population resides in the Northeast, specifically in forests. While they are usually difficult to spot due to their tendency to remain high up (females with dark wings are particularly hard to find), the best place to find these birds is in their natural habitat; the forest. 

Indigo Bunting 

Scientific Name: Passerina Cyanea| Habitat: Open Woodlands| Length: 4.7-5.1 inches

Source: Dylan Francis

Indigo Buntings are blue birds that are often seen throughout the North American East Coast throughout the spring and summertime. They tend to migrate during the night, and they use the stars to help them find their destination. During their migration, they fly approximately 1,200 miles between North America and the Amazon. One of the best ways to see these birds up close is to put feeders in your backyard that contain thistle or nyjer seeds. Otherwise, they can be found in rural roads in the middle of the summer, as they often spend hours singing in this area.

Bicknell’s Thrush

Scientific Name: Catharus bicknelli| Habitat: Forests| Length:  6.3-6.7 inches

Source: Tom Johnson

While it can be easily confused with the Gray-Cheeked Thrush, the Bicknell’s Thrush stands out with its song; while the former ends their song on a low note, the latter’s song ends with their call rising.  During their winters in Hispaniola, the males tend to nest at a higher elevation than females, and they prefer to eat insects rather than fruit, unlike their female counterparts. It is difficult to spot the Bicknell’s Thrush because while they appear in populated areas of the U.S East Coast, they are quiet birds that are often mistaken for the Gray-Cheeked Thrush. However, they can be found on mountaintops early in the morning as the males sing their song. 

What Can You Do?

Fortunately, there are many ways that these birds can be helped. The ACEER foundation has programs such as Bioblitz in the Madre de Dios region that enables teachers, volunteers and children to learn about the birds and wildlife around them.

Climate Change is largely linked to human activities such as the use of yard chemicals, eating meat, and transportation. In fact, household activities are responsible for about 12% of U.S emissions (Rhiannon, 2012).

By modifying your daily activities and life-style, you can help reduce the threat of climate change and, as a result, save these birds’ habitats:

  • Eating less meat is predicted to reduce 2.97% of U.S emissions (Rhiannon 2012).
  • Consider buying items such as natural fertilizer and organic foods to achieve lower emission rates.
  • Ride a bike to work, use public transportation, work from home, or invest in a fuel-efficient vehicle. If those options aren’t available or affordable for you, know that even simple vehicle maintenance like keeping your tires properly inflated or changing your driving style by not speeding, can reduce your carbon emissions. (COTAP)
  • Use natural pest controls in your backyard instead of chemicals.

When it comes to predators, you can protect the birds in your backyard by using predator guards such as a Stovepipe baffle or a Noel predator guard to protect nest boxes. By adding predator guards, nest boxes have a 6.7% chance of surviving as opposed to those without them (NestWatch)