Andean cock-of-the-rock is my bird to see

I guess many people have one special bird they would very much like to see. Some folks think a bird of paradise would be outstanding; others would prefer a puffin. For me, I was for a long time fixated on seeing an Andean cock-of-the-rock.

The national bird of Peru, the cock-of-the-rock is one beautiful creature. The male has a bright red-orange body, a jet-black tail, and head feathers that resemble a Roman battle helmet. It is called a cock-of-the-rock because it often nests among rocks on cliff ledges.

About the size of a pigeon, it has long been a sought-after bird among bird watchers. It was on top of my must-see list for many years.

I finally saw a cock-of-the-rock on a trip to Panama. But it was a female, and she was quite plain and unadorned. Not what I had in mind. So I returned to South America and booked a room at a place called Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge located in a pristine cloud forest on the eastern slope of the Andes in Peru. After all, the cock-of-the-rock is the national bird of Peru and I figured a place named after the bird would surely have a few on hand.

Happily, I saw many male birds on a lek, not far from the hotel. They were dancing around in hopes of attracting a female and were truly beautiful specimens that far exceeded my expectations.

So my advice, if you have a special bird you want to see, don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to do so. Good things are worth waiting on. Especially an Andean cock-of-the-rock.

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