Parrots are just some of the over a million different species of Amazon animals - ranging from jaguars to monkeys, spiders to amphibians (Amazon is a particularly good environment for amphibians). The abundance of insect food and water provide conditions for a huge number of species, though most of them are rarely seen in the daylight. It's easier to hear them at night (the croaking of frogs and toads echoes on the river and in the forest, providing a special atmosphere to the Amazon night).
According to scientists there:
- 600-800 Amazon species of mammals - amongst them are big cats like the jaguar, the puma, the jaguarundi, the ocelot, and other mammals such as the sloths, the armadillos, the anteaters, the tapirs, the capybaras, many species of monkeys and the dolphins.
- 1,500 species of birds - the various kinds of Amazon parrots, the toucans, egrets, crakes, eagles, owls, oropendulas, ...
- around 3,000 kinds of fish: the famous piranha or the pirarucu (the largest freshwater fish in the world), but also species like the silver dollar fish, the catfish, the dogfish or the cichlid.
Amazon has few large mammals. There are felines like the jaguar, large rodents like the capybara, large monkey species and so on, but most Amazon animals are small (such as the bats, the largest group: there are more species of bats in Brazil than anywhere else in the world).
Amongst the most spectacular examples species, there are the Amazon otter (the world's biggest otter species is Brazilian), the freshwater manatee or the tree-dwelling anteaters (don't expect to see these particular Amazon rainforest animals if you are planning a short travel to the Amazon though; these are shy species, difficult to see in the wild).
See, for books:
Books about the Amazon and the rain forest life
Amazon Parrots and other birds
Much of Amazon fauna - including some sub-species of the Amazon parrot - is in danger due to forest losses and the growth of human agriculture and city areas.
A well known and much commented example involves the hyacinth or blue macaw, a highly intelligent Amazon parrot that can even be trained to answer the phone, whose value in black market can reach the $70,000. Its numbers may round the 4,000 in the Pantanal, perhaps a little more in Amazon, but these numbers are just a small fraction of what they used to be. This Amazon parrot produces just two eggs every two years and only one of the two chicks is likely to survive. Without preservation efforts, the blue macaws will extinct.
We may easily observe this Amazon parrot in some regions of the Pantanal - the best place in Brazil to watch birds -, sitting in the branches of manduvi trees, excavating its trunks to construct the nests.
Only by stopping deforestation and resulting loss of habitats may we preserve the Amazon fauna.
There are, of course, many other kinds of birds besides the Amazon parrot. The Amazon (and the Pantanal, further south) is a paradise for birds and birdwatching.
Toucans, owls, spix's guan, the great egrets, the great blue eron, the oropendula, the paint-billed crake, the trogons, the hummingbird and the various species of Amazon parrot are just some examples of the most known of the estimated 1,500 Amazon birds. Their calls, hooting and peeping grants a strange and spectacular ambiance to the forest.
Most of the rainforest species are insects and other small or invisible creatures: weeds, bugs, fungi, butterflies and other small living beings. So, the question may arise: why worry about these species and their eventual disappearance?
The answer is simple: small organisms play crucial roles in the functioning of earth's ecosystems, especially in the rainforests where they live. They recycle nutrients, they fix the nitrogen keeping the fertility of soil and allowing the food chain for larger organisms. Without fungi, Amazon would be doomed. Edward O. Wilson develops these ideas in an exemplar form:
Recent studies on whole ecosystems support what ecologists have long suspected: the more species living in an ecosystem, the higher its productivity and the greater its ability to withstand drought and other kinds of environmental stress. Since we depend on functioning ecosystems to cleanse our water, enrich our soil and create the very air we breathe, biodiversity is clearly not something to discard carelessly.
E.O. Wilson, Only Humans Can Halt the Worst Wave of Extinction Since the Dinosaurs Died
See, for books and information about the Amazon fauna :
Books about the Amazon
fish and fishing
Amazon has some of the most famous fish of the world:
- the Pirarucu, the largest river fish of our planet, with specimens measuring over 2 metres/6 feet long and weighing around 120 kilograms/265 pounds;
- the Tambaqui, famous amongst fishermen for the strength of its teeth, capable of cracking seeds as hard as those of the palm or the rubber tree;
- the Peacock Bass (Tucunar), whose power and size attracts fishermen from all over the world
- the Tetras, a very small fish, highly admired by aquarists all over the world
- the Piranha, whose ferocity is legendary, though largely exaggerated. Only some species of piranhas, in particular conditions, reveal an aggressive behaviour. In river channels, or lakes with sufficient water and food, they are not aggressive.
But these are just some of the 2,500 to 3,000 species of the Amazon fishes. The Amazon offers great possibilities to fishers (and to fish cuisine fans). The mentioned Tucuran, or Peacock Bass, is very popular when fishing for sport due to Its strength, size (three feet/0,9 meters long is a common one) and weight (25 pounds/11 Kg). Equally important are the various species of catfish (the giant Piraibas, the red tailed catfish), the tiger surabims, the piranhas, the aruanas, the trairas or the fanged Payaras. Sports fishermen often catch more than 15 different species a day in many Amazon places, especially in Manaus.