Peruvian high Andes

Country/Territory Peru
Area 100,000 km2
Altitude 1500 - 4600m
Priority critical
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge good

General characteristics

This EBA includes a large proportion of the high Andes in Peru from the border with Ecuador in the north to the Chilean and Bolivian border in the south. It includes the mountains west of the Marañón valley such as the Cordilleras Blanca and Negra, and the highlands around Lago de Junín. The area extends southwards from Junín in two separate forks, the first running along the continuous western side of the Andes (the Cordillera Occidental), the other on the eastern side of the Andes in Cuzco and Puno departments. This latter area includes the disjunct cordilleras north of the Apurímac river (i.e. Vilcabamba, Vilcanota and Carabaya), and some areas just south of the river in north-east Apurímac. This is a complex area biogeographically, and as such is in close proximity to a number of other EBAs: it surrounds the Junín puna (EBA 050), which is at slightly higher elevation and is in a different habitat zone; around Junín and northwards it runs alongside the North-east Peruvian cordilleras (EBA 049), from which it differs in vegetation; in the south-east it adjoins the Peruvian East Andean foothills (EBA 053), which embrace humid forest at lower altitudes; and to the north it continues with a different suite of species as the more humid forests of the South Central Andes (EBA 046).

The habitat in this EBA primarily comprises arid and semi-arid vegetation in the subtropical and temperate zone, and in many areas is best described as dense arid montane scrub and shrubby forest with cacti, Puya and other terrestrial bromeliads. The landscape is dry and rocky: the hills are often covered in open Acacia woodland, grass and thorny scrub interspersed with areas of stony ground, and at higher altitudes there are Alnus thickets and Gynoxys shrubs. In semi-humid areas (such as canyons), mixed woodlands of Polylepis, Weinmannia, Gynoxys and Escallonia often occur in isolated patches in a mosaic with more open areas (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). Other patches of mixed woodland (with bushy undergrowth at its edges) are dominated by Oreopanax, Myrcianthes and Escallonia, and Podocarpus forest grows in some areas. In cultivated regions a mosaic of habitats has resulted, with small tuber (potato) and barley fields, and heavily grazed patches of pasture interspersed with natural vegetation, a landscape that has not changed much for at least a century (Collar et al. 1992).

Restricted-range species

Almost all the restricted-range species are concentrated above 2,000 m in the subtropical and temperate zones, where they inhabit the full range of arid to semi-humid habitats described above. There are no clear altitudinal or habitat trends within this suite of birds, but there are a number of interesting distributional patterns: one group of species is confined to the north-west cordilleras (Blanca and Negra), and a second, larger group is restricted to the south-east Andes (see 'Distribution patterns' table). Among the remaining species, those occurring within the Cordillera Occidental are found in the north-west cordilleras with all except one also in the Lago de Junín area (but none in the disjunct south-east Andes). The four species shared with the Marañón valley (EBA 048) are concentrated there in the higher altitudes of the southern part of that valley.

An unnamed form of Taphrospilus hummingbird has been recorded at 2,800-3,400 m in the Podocarpus forests of this region (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), but though the altitudinal range appears to be consistent with other species in this EBA, J. Fjeldså (in litt. 1993) suggests that it may belong with birds from the Peruvian East Andean foothills (EBA 053).

Species IUCN Category
Taczanowski's Tinamou (Nothoprocta taczanowskii) VU
(Nothoprocta kalinowskii) NR
Grey-bellied Comet (Taphrolesbia griseiventris) EN
Olivaceous Thornbill (Chalcostigma olivaceum) LC
(Oreonympha nobilis) NR
White-tufted Sunbeam (Aglaeactis castelnaudii) NT
Spot-throated Hummingbird (Leucippus taczanowskii) LC
Striated Earthcreeper (Geocerthia serrana) LC
Royal Cinclodes (Cinclodes aricomae) CR
White-browed Tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura xenothorax) EN
Rusty-crowned Tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura pileata) LC
Line-fronted Canastero (Asthenes urubambensis) NT
Junin Canastero (Asthenes virgata) LC
Rusty-fronted Canastero (Asthenes ottonis) LC
Canyon Canastero (Asthenes pudibunda) LC
Creamy-crested Spinetail (Cranioleuca albicapilla) LC
Russet-bellied Spinetail (Synallaxis zimmeri) EN
Apurimac Spinetail (Synallaxis courseni) VU
White-cheeked Cotinga (Zaratornis stresemanni) VU
Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant (Anairetes alpinus) EN
Rufous-eared Brush-finch (Atlapetes rufigenis) NT
Rusty-bellied Brush-finch (Atlapetes nationi) LC
Great Inca-finch (Incaspiza pulchra) LC
Rufous-backed Inca-finch (Incaspiza personata) LC
Grey-winged Inca-finch (Incaspiza ortizi) LC
Rufous-breasted Warbling-finch (Poospiza rubecula) EN
Brown-flanked Tanager (Thlypopsis pectoralis) LC
Chestnut-breasted Mountain-finch (Poospizopsis caesar) LC
Plain-tailed Warbling-finch (Microspingus alticola) EN

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Abra La Raya Peru
Balsas Peru
Cajabamba Peru
Carretera Huanuco-La Union Peru
Cordillera de Huancabamba Peru
Cordillera de Vilcabamba Sur Peru
Cordillera Huayhuash Peru
Hacienda Limón Peru
Hacienda Tulpo Peru
Huaylas-Quitacocha Peru
Laguna de los Cóndores-Atuén Peru
Linday Peru
Mashua y La Caldera Peru
Molino Peru
Nevada Chaiñapuerto Peru
Parque Nacional Río Abiseo Peru
Quichas Peru
Santuario Nacional de Calipuy Peru
UNIDA A CARPISH - Cordillera de Carpish Peru
UNIDA A CARPISH - Quilluacocha y Bosque de Unchog Peru
Urubamba-Pumahuanca Peru
Vilcanota Peru
PE020 La Esperanza Peru
PE024 Llaguén Peru
PE026 Cochabamba Peru
PE027 Chacchan Peru
PE029 San Damián-Berna Puquio Peru
PE030 Bosque de Noqno Peru
PE033 Bosque de Zárate Peru
PE036 Hortigal Peru
PE040 Reserva Nacional Pampa Galeras Peru
PE041 Cotahuasi Peru
PE061 Río Marañón Peru
PE062 Laguna de los Cóndores Peru
PE063 Río Cajamarca Peru
PE065 El Molino Peru
PE067 Champará Peru
PE068 Parque Nacional Huascarán Peru
PE069 Cerro Huanzalá-Huallanca Peru
PE070 Cordillera Huayhuash y Nor-Oyón Peru
PE071 Cullcui Peru
PE074 Milpo Peru
PE078 Marcapomacocha Peru
PE079 Alto Valle Santa Eulalia-Milloc Peru
PE080 Nor-Oyón Peru
PE081 Río Mantaro-Cordillera Central Peru
PE083 Chalhuanca Peru
PE084 Santuario Nacional del Ampay Peru
PE085 Runtacocha-Morococha Peru
PE087 Mandorcasa Peru
PE088 Santuario Histórico Machu Picchu Peru
PE089 Abra Málaga-Vilcanota Peru
PE090 Lagos Yanacocha Peru
PE096 Valcón Peru
PE112 Manu Peru

Threat and conservation

The vegetation of this large area is in a relatively good state, but locally it has been severely affected by domestic grazing animals, burning, cutting for fuel and clearance for cultivation (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Collar et al. 1992). For example, the Polylepis-Gynoxys woodlands within Huascarán National Park are dwindling owing to the activities of man, although some large areas still exist (Wege and Long 1995).

Eleven of the restricted-range species are currently considered threatened, with Nothoprocta taczanowskii, Cinclodes aricomae, Leptasthenura xenothorax and Synallaxis courseni (known from just one area in Abancay department) being primarily confined to the south-east Andes. The remaining threatened species tend to be poorly known and/or localized (e.g. Nothoprocta kalinowskii), or alternatively are more widely distributed but occur at very few localities, or in low densities and are presumed to be highly specialized (e.g. Taphrolesbia griseiventris, Zaratornis stresemanni, Anairetes alpinus). More-widespread threatened species that are known to occur in this EBA include Golden-plumed Parakeet Leptosittaca branickii (classified as Vulnerable), Pale-tailed Canastero Asthenes huancavelicae (Vulnerable) and White-tailed Shrike-tyrant Agriornis andicola (Vulnerable) (Collar . 1992).

Thirty-three Key Areas were recently identified for the threatened birds in this EBA, though only three are currently protected: Huascarán National Park (in the Cordillera Blanca), Río Abiseo National Park and Ampay National Sanctuary (Wege and Long 1995). The only other significant protected area in this EBA is the Apurímac Reserve Zone. With such prominent geographic divisions in the endemic avifauna, a number of sites need to be conserved to ensure the survival of all species; particularly important areas are the Cordilleras Blanca and Negra, the mountains around Lago de Junín, the massif east of Lima and the Cuzco-Urubamba area in the south-east.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Peruvian high Andes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/07/2020.