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Ok, not exactly a local patch but somewhere I have been several times in the last few years and so this seems a likely place to include some notes and information on the site. El Mirador (Alojamiento Turistico) is a family-run guest house in the jungle city of Tarapoto in northern-central Peru. It assumes a special location, being just five minutes walk from the town centre, yet situated at the highest point with panoramic views, hence it's name. From the rooftop terrace, where breakfast is served, the Cordillera Escalera dominates the horizon while a suburban landscape with scattered trees occurs in the immediate vicinity. Common birds of open and degraded rainforest habitats can be seen (including the Huallaga Tanager, a Peruvian endemic) whilst enjoying a fruit salad. For anyone with some time,  more interest can found by following a trail up the Shilcayo river which begins just down the slope below El Mirador and runs through the Sector Achual district of Tarapoto before heading towards the lower slopes of the Sierra Escalera. Tarapoto is little visited by birders. Although very popular with Peruvians, international travellers finding their way to Tarapoto tend to be more independently-minded but it can be a worthwhile stopover on the way to Iquitos (one hour flight) or if travelling by road to and from the well-known sites in the upper Mayo valley. Just 15 kilometres away near Juan Guerra, some tropical deciduous forest species can be seen including Haullaga Slaty-Antshrike.


Rooftop Terrace of El Mirador, Tarapoto  Jr. San Pablo de la Cruz, Tarapoto

 Rooftop Terrace of El Mirador                               Jr. San Pablo de la Cruz


Tarapoto (350m) is right on the edge of the eastern slope of the Andes close to the lowlands of the Amazon Basin. It is a one hour flight from Lima. From Chiclayo in the northern coastal desert the 700 km by road takes around 13 hours on a bus. El Mirador is located at the top Jr. San Pablo de la Cruz (No. 517) which leads from the main plaza in the centre of town. The top floor or roof terrace of El Mirador is shaded from the sun, allows almost all round visibility of the area, and has several hammocks for relaxing in.


Views from El Mirador over Tarapoto  Views from El Mirador over Tarapoto  Views from El Mirador to the Sierra Escalera

 Views from El Mirador over Tarapoto and to the Sierra Escalera


This fast-growing jungle city is surrounded by extensive agricultural land (including rice fields with attendant waterbirds) which at one time would have been rainforest. The closest remaining forest of any extent can be found along the ridge of the Escalera mountains. A road from Tarapoto to Yurimaguas crosses the ridge through a tunnel at around 1000 metres. The suburban landscape around El Mirador soon gives way to small-scale farms (chakras), pasture and dry forest in the valley of the Río Shilcayo which tumbles down from the Escalera ridge and more humid forest.


The first two hours of the day are best before it gets too hot and activity decreases. To find the Rio Shilcayo trail, follow the following directions.

1. Opposite the front door of El Mirador, a track leads down a steep slope from the end of the paved part of Jv. San Pablo de la Cruz to the sandy, muddy street below.

2. Turn left at the bottom of the slope and head towards the well on the right-hand side.

3. Soon you will pass the Takiwasi retreat on the right.

4. Go through the small 'village' with the 'El Pueble lo Hizo' sign.

5The track then slopes up to a T-junction - turn right here.

6. Carry on through the pasture and farms.

7. After the Urku reserve, the trail starts to follow the Rio Shilcayo more closely. From here the better forest habitat can be found and the more interesting species.


Track from El Mirador & Start of Rio Shilcayo Trail  Track from El Mirador & Start of Rio Shilcayo Trail

 Track from El Mirador & Start of Rio Shilcayo Trail


Well, Tarapoto  El Pueblo lo Hizo, Tarapoto

 Well & El Pueblo lo Hizo, Sector Achual


Secondary Forest & Scrub, Tarapoto  Grazed Slopes, Tarapoto

 Secondary Forest, Scrub & Grazed Slopes



El Mirador: Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Swallow-tailed Kite, American Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Crane Hawk, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Canary-winged Parakeet, White-tipped Dove, Eared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Gray-fronted Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, Blue-and-White Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, White-banded Swallow, Gray-breasted Martin, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, Pale-rumped Swift, Short-tailed Swift, Gilded Barbet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Huallaga Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Black-billed Thrush, Purple-throated Euphonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Grayish Saltator, Dull-coloured Grassquit, Southern House Wren, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Saffron Finch, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Blue-tailed Emerald, Tawny-bellied Hermit and various other hummingbirds.

Rio Shilcayo & Sector Achual: Chestnut-crowned Foliage Gleaner, Yellow-crested Tanager, Lemon-throated Barbet, Purple Honeycreeper, White-flanked Antwren, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Sunbittern, Black Phoebe, Buff-rumped Warber, Green Kingfisher, Crested Oropendola, Blue-crowned Motmot, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, White-necked Thrush,  Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Blue-black Grassquit, Little Woodpecker, Huallaga Slaty-Antshrike, Eared Dove, Turkey Vulture, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Huallaga Tanager, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Pale-legged Hornero, Great Kiskadee, Southern House Wren, Tropical Kingbird, American Black Vulture, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Cattle Egret, Black-billed Thrush, Grayish Saltator, Troupial, Social Flycatcher, Smooth-billed Ani, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Magpie Tanager, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Giant Cowbird, Russet-backed Oropendola, Coraya Wren, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Dusky-capped Greenlet, Streaked Flycatcher, White-necked Jackobin, Blue-tailed Emerald, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, White-eyed Parakeet, Needle-billed Hermit, Purple-throated Euphonia, Little Cuckoo, Moriche Oriole, White-eyed Tody-Tyrant, Variegated Flycatcher, Blue-crowned Manakin, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Blue Dacnis, Forest Elaenia, Spot-winged Antshrike, Buff-breasted Wren, Glittering-throated Emerald, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Amazon Scrub-Flycatcher, Squirrel Cuckoo, Tui Parakeet, Green Violetear, Masked Tityra, Swallow-tailed Kite, Short-tailed Swift, Pale-rumped Swift, Gray-rumped Swift, White-banded Swallow, Canary-winged Parakeet, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Palm Tanager, Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Moustached Wren, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Shiny Cowbird, Short-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-headed Caracara, Reddish Hermit, Turquoise Tanager, Spot-winged Antbird, Green-and-Gold Tanager, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Band-bellied Owl, Yellow-billed Cacique, Plumbeous Kite, Ringed Kingfisher, Blue-winged Parrotlet.

Secondary Forest, Tarapoto  Secondary Forest, Tarapoto

 Secondary Forest


During August and September 2007 I shared some rented accommodation with work colleagues. This was just five minutes walk from El Mirador near Point 5 in the guide. Species noted in and from the garden (below) included Turqouise Tanager, Guilded Barbet, Grayish Saltator, Blue-crowned Motmot, Pale-vented Pigeon, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Purple-throated Euphonia, Canary-winged Parakeet, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Smooth-billed Ani, Great Kiskadee, Black-billed Thrush, Phaethornis spp., Pale-legged Hornero, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tropical Kingbird, American Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Eared Dove, Southern House Wren, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, Short-tailed Swift, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, White-banded Swallow, Silver-beaked Tanager, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Violet-fronted Brilliant.

Garden, Sector Achual

 'Field Station' in Sector Achual, Tarapoto


Visit the El mirador website > Alojamiento Turistico El Mirador


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  © 2007 Fraser Simpson  ·  www.fssbirding.org.uk