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Posts Tagged ‘Venezuela wildlife’

Caripe, in the state of Monagas, Venezuela, is home to a nocturnal bird called the guácharo or “oil bird.” The guácharo (steatornis caripensis) uses echolocation to navigate through the dark cave that bears his name. La Cueva del Guácharo is an enormous cavern that goes deep into the earth of eastern Venezuela. There are underground rivers and many types of cave critters in this national park.

A visitor to the cave probably won’t see the resident birds, but will definitely hear them. From the roof of the cave, they squawk in protest at the intruding flashlights that interrupt their sleep. At sunset, the guácharos wake to leave their cave in search of breakfast. Popular legend says they fly to Brazil for seeds, but the park guides will assure you that this is impossible, since the oil palm fruits they eat are close to the cave. If they went to Brazil, they could never get back in time for bed in the morning.

The cacophony and the spectacle of thousands of guácharos leaving the cave are amazing, and make the cave a favorite attraction for tourists and locals. Many people camp out to see and hear them return in the morning. La Cueva del Guácharo is one more example of Venezuela’s wonderful and diverse natural heritage.

Click for more photos and info in English and Spanish

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If you can’t go see the wonders of Venezuela’s “lost world” in Canaima National Park yourself, do the next best thing: watch this video from Public Television’s “Wild Chronicles.”

The five-minute documentary follows a group of Venezuelan biologists and researchers to one of the most delicate and diverse parts of the world to collect specimens. Along the way, they discover a new species of catfish, climb up into the forest canopy to check out plants, and delve into the dark world of bats.

All of this is part of a multi-disciplinary attempt to measure local biodiversity and use that knowledge to create policies for environmental preservation. Venezuela’s wild spaces are home to a vast amount of flora and fauna, a natural patrimony that is definitely worth saving.

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With more than 1300 recorded bird species within its boundaries, Venezuela promises some of the best bird watching in South America. Its flora and fauna are spectacular too, but rapid growth in the bird-watching industry has taken many by surprise.

turpialOne species that you won’t have a hard time sighting is the Turpial, Venezuela’s national bird.

The Turpial is one of about 25 or so species of “New World Orioles,” but don’t let the name fool you. This South American beauty has more in common with a hawk than the bright orange Orioles we are accustomed to seeing in the U.S.

During March and September, the birds breed in a most unruly fashion, steeling the nests of other birds as a part of their reproductive ritual. Violent attacks against native nesters are common, and can even end in the Turpial ingesting the eggs of young hatchlings occupying their newly coveted home. It’s no wonder they have come to be known as the “nest pirates” of the Caribbean.

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