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Chile Birding

7 November - 5 December 1998



Chile has much to offer the visiting birder, with spectacular scenery; excellent roads and internal air network and above all a host of fantastic birds and endemic species.

Veterans of South America will still find that Chile is a must, with many species restricted to southern South America reasonably common and easy to see here. In comparison to Argentina the avifauna is similar and the two countries may be incorporated on a single trip in order that all habitats are well covered ornithologically. Chile was the last country in South America on this trip that traveled the length of the Andes from Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. The emphasis was on Chilean endemics and restricted range species found only in neighboring Argentina or parts of Bolivia and Peru not previously covered. The ideal way to bird Chile is to cover the country in a logical order from the northern most deserts and Andes near Arica to the central specialties around Santiago and the southern most birds of Tierra del Fuego.

To do justice to the country a three to four week trip is advisable using hire cars and internal flights. Compared to a lot of South America, the country has a distinct European feel and a reasonably low number of birds that means you never feel overwhelmed or out of your depth in this continental land of over three thousand bird species.

If anyone requires any further information, please contact me at my


We entered Chile from La Paz in Bolivia using an international flight with Lloyd Aero Boliviana that cost £50 or U$80. The flight time was only an hour and takes you from the dizzy heights of the Andes to the desert landscape and the Atacama Desert in Arica situated at sea level. International flights operate from most South American capitals and if coming from Europe the long haul flights arrive in the capital city, Santiago. Another option would be to travel overland from La Paz in Bolivia along the recently opened new road, a journey time of about twelve hours apparently. If entering from Argentina there are several border crossings in the country and this is reasonably easy to do so I am told.


The unit of currency in Chile is the Chilean peso, easily obtained at Santiago airport and moneychangers in Arica, in exchange for $US cash or travelers cheques. At the time of our trip, the exchange rate was £1 = 750 Chilean pesos.  We were led to believe that Chile was going to be prohibitively expensive, but after four weeks in the country we were pleasantly surprised by the costs. Food was more expensive than Peru or Bolivia but cheaper than the UK, whilst accommodation was reasonably priced and from what I can gather from other travelers cheaper than Argentina. The excellent internal flight pass allowing all internal flights was good value, each sector costing U$80, booked in the UK through Journey Latin America. Hire cars were not exactly cheap but a necessity in this huge country.


We tried to stay in reasonably good but inexpensive accommodation, which in most cases we managed to find though in the more tourist areas a few places needed to be tried until we found some spare beds. The accommodation was safe, clean and in the colder places such as Punta Arenas, warm and homely. At residential Saly in Punta Arenas a light breakfast was included in the price of the room. At Lauca we stayed in a very cold local house, and in Conguillio and at La Campana we camped overnight.


The food was plentiful, good quality, varied and reasonably priced. We used to prepare rolls during days out in the field and eat in local restaurants or cafes in the evening. Chile caters for all tastes with plenty of meat, vegetables and fruit available. Please note that there are strict regulations regarding the importing of food into the country particularly if arriving from Argentina. 


As stated previously we used internal flights to travel around the country, these were efficient, comfortable and certainly saved a lot of time on buses or driving huge distances. In the north we opted for a local guy (Manuel) who despite not being able to drive properly, proved more than adequate in helping us reach Lauca National Park. We chose this option mainly because all the hire car companies were shut at the weekend and with limited time we wanted to go birding as soon as possible. At Calama we hired a 4WD vehicle to access the high altitude lakes and hot geysers a good move as the roads to the lakes are very soft in places and rough in certain sections. Further south in Punta Arenas we again hired a 4WD, cheaper than a saloon car and more comfortable on the rough roads that we encountered though probably not essential, as the roads were passable in a saloon. At Concepción and Santiago we hired saloon cars, the only other form of transport used were the ferries to and from Tierra del Fuego payable at the time of boarding and reasonably low priced.

We used hire cars at the following places. I have not included the costs as they change so rapidly, but as an example the car at Calama cost £95 for 2.5 days.

Arica: Manuel and car.

Calama (AVIS) 2.5 days.

Punta Arenas (AVIS) 5.5 days.

Concepción (AVIS) 5 days.

Santiago (AVIS) 7 days.


There are no major health risks in Chile, where tropical diseases are virtually non-existent and good medical care exists in the modern hospitals. The people were very friendly and I think the only area where there have been problems in the past is in Arica where reputedly Peruvians cross the border to steal from the wealthy tourists (according to the local Chileans).


1. The Birds of South America Vol. 1 and 2. Ridgely and Tudor.

Essential books for the Ground Tyrants, Miners, Earthcreepers and Finches. Bulky books but well worth taking if you have a car for the duration of the trip.

2. Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica. La Pena and Rumboll.

A possible replacement for the above, but hardly in the same league and likely to confuse rather than help in the identification of difficult groups.

3. Where to Watch Birds in South America. Wheatley.

Useful for information on sites though Pearman's guide is much more complete.

4. The essential guide to Birding in Chile. Written by Mark Pearman

A useful book which is compact and lightweight though had a few mistakes on some maps but more importantly doesn't cover southern Chile. All regularly visited sites in Chile are covered, though in the case of the Slender-billed Parakeets the birds evidently change their feeding sites dependant on food availability.

5. Birds to Watch 2. The World List of Threatened Birds.

This book written by Birdlife International was useful for finding out those species listed as threatened by Birdlife.


Nov 7th La Paz to Arica. Overnight in Residencial Chungara, 4000 pesos per person.

Nov 8th Arica to Putre and Lauca National Park. Overnight in a local house 2000 each.

Nov 9th Lauca National Park, Putre and travel back to Arica. Overnight in Residencial Liz (next door to Chungara) 2000 pesos each per night.

Nov 10th Azapa valley. Overnight in Arica.

Nov 11th Arica. Overnight in Arica.

Nov 12th Azapa valley early am. Flight to Antofagasta onwards to Calama at 1310. Hostal in Calama, 2500 each.

Nov 13th Calama to Lago Menique and Miscanti, return to San Pedro de Atacama for evening, 4000 each (expensive, as this is a popular tourist area).

Nov 14th Very early start 0400 to El Tatio, arriving back in Calama at 1800.

Nov 15th Flight at 1150 to Antofagasta, onwards to Santiago. 1900 flight to Punta Arenas arrival at 2300. Overnight in residencial Saly, 3500 each.

Nov 16th Birding Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. Stayed in Patagonian Adventures hostal in Puerto Natales, 3000 each.

Nov 17th 0700 departure for Torres del Paine National Park, arriving at 1000. Overnight in a refugio in Torres del Paine, 2000 each (300 extra for a hot shower).

Nov 18th Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas.

Nov 19th Ferry to El Porvenir at 0815 birded Tierra del Fuego, overnight in El Porvenir, residencial Patagonia 4000 each.

Nov 20th birded from the road to Bahia Azul where we caught ferry to mainland. Drove to Punta Dungeness and back to Punta Arenas, arriving at 2330. Overnight in residencial Saly.

Nov 21st Early morning birding forest 20 km south of Punta Arenas. 1830 flight from Punta Arenas to Concepción arriving at 2145. Overnight in cabañas at Salta de Laja near Los Angeles. Nov 22nd 0850 departure for Laguna Laja, arriving at 1120. Birded here until 1600 then long drive to Angol. Overnight in residencial Olympia 4000 each.

Nov 23rd 0620 departure for Vegas Blancas and Nahuelbuta. Overnight in the park Nahuelbuta, 1000 each in the information center.

Nov 24th Early morning in the park, 1200 departure to Angol and onto Temuco, arriving at 1730. Overnight in hospedaje Espejo in Temuco, 3500 each.

Nov 25th Birded Cerro Nieol in Temuco until 1115 then drove to Parque Nacional Conguillio. Camping in the park, no cost.

Nov 26th Conguillio, slow drive to Concepción birding agricultural land on route. Overnight in residencial Metro in Concepción, 5000 each.

Nov 27th 0910 flight to Santiago arriving at 1010. Late afternoon at Estero de Lampa. Overnight in Santiago. Hotel Caripe in Santiago, 3500 each.

Nov 28th 0620 departure for Portillo birded here all day, 1730 drove to Cerro de la campana, overnight in Granizo in a cabaña (cost unknown).

Nov 29th Cerro de la Campana from 0630 to 1100, afternoon at Laguna El Peral. Evening in Valparaiso. Hotel Reina Victoria in Valparaiso, 5200 each.

Nov 30th Pelagic out of Valparaiso. Evening camping at La Campana.

Dec 1st La Campana early morning then travel onto the Rio Aconcagua. Overnight at La Campana.

Dec 2nd La Campana to El Yeso, overnight in San Alfonso, Los Ciervos, 6000 each.

Dec 3rd El Yeso in the morning, evening at La Campana.

Dec 4th La Campana to Santiago, overnight in Hotel Caripe.

Dec 5th Santiago to Lima onwards to Cancun in Mexico for KT, NB and BW. MH and SC return to the UK.


We would like to thank Manuel at Arica for driving us to Lauca and providing us with a few laughs with his driving skills and pasty consumption. At Salta de Laja the owner of the hostals kindly looked after our bags for a few days, whilst at Nahuelbuta the research assistant allowed us to sleep in the park information center for the night. At La Campana, Mark Pearman helped us out with some gen., especially the Rufous-legged Owls and up to date info on Crag Chilia. My thanks to the big tree at la Campana for not curtailing my life list by missing the tent one night, not killing us as it crashed to the ground.  Finally my thanks to the others in the group that made the trip successful and at times an adventure and to Martin for checking through the draft of this report.


The main birding sites are well covered in Pearman's book and to mention them in detail here would only be repeating that already in print. The information below is for less well-known sites that we visited and updates on sites in Pearman's guide that may be of use.


We birded the Alacran peninsula for waders and possible seabirds off shore.

Nearby the Azapa valley can be easily reached using the yellow Cab Company out of Arica, 400 per person each way. We birded the dry riverbed on Pearman's map and the vegetated shrubbery along the road. These areas produced all the specialities, Peruvian Thick Knee was found along the dry riverbed to the left after about 1km whereas Chilean Woodstar and Peruvian Sheartail were found only in the flowering bushes adjacent to the start of this track. Chestnut-throated Seedeater and Slender-billed Finch were both very common in and around the village and especially in the vicinity of the dry riverbed.


See Pearman's book. We birded the valley marked on the map in the book, which yielded several Earthcreepers. Identification of White-throated Earthcreeper not as straightforward as expected due to literature in the books differing on identification features. Apparently White-tailed Shrike Tyrant is possible here but we never located any Shrike Tyrants of any description. Please note there is a military base in Putre so be careful where you wander.


We managed to see all the key birds here though despite extensive searching Red-backed Sierra Finch was only seen by KT. Birding sites as in Pearman's guide based mainly around the small village of Parinocota. Key birds are White-throated Sierra Finch, Puna Tinamou, and Puna Ground Tyrant, all present in the area marked on Pearman's map adjacent to the small hills. We stayed the night in a small house and for some in the van in the village. Fortunately we were able to stay in one of the few houses due to the family visiting Arica for the weekend. We were able to light a fire and blankets were provided for use.


The lakes are accessed as indicated in Pearman's book. We birded both lakes and the slopes adjacent. This is an excellent site for Horned Coot, which we failed to see in Northern Argentina six years before.


In order to locate this popular tourist spot we left San Pedro de Atacama very early in the morning and followed the trail and headlights of the organised tours to the geysers at El Tatio. There is some logic in this because at times the road isn't entirely that obvious and difficult to follow across the featureless landscape. Once at the geysers it is a good idea to warm up, as it is incredibly cold here early morning. We located several Red-backed Sierra Finch and Puna Plover in the low wet area beyond the springs where there is also plenty of scrubby bushes at the base of the hillside.


We birded from the car for seabirds and a patch of woodland out of town which didn't produce the hoped for Patagonian Tyrant. A few seabirds were seen from the ferry to El Porvenir and from Bahia Azul. In the El Porvenir area we birded various lakes and roadside vegetation for Magellanic Plover and Ground Tyrants north and south of the town.


The road to Punta Dungeness was very productive with Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Austral Canastero and Cinnamon-bellied Ground Tyrant. At Punta Dungeness there were very few birds though a close pod of Commerson's Dolphins and a Southern Right Whale made the trip here very worthwhile.


Covered in Pearman's guide. A key site for Chestnut-throated Huet Huet as marked on the map. Great Shrike Tyrant was also seen at this site on the upper slopes further into the park.   


Covered in Pearman's guide, we saw most of the specialties in the park and in bamboo stands at Vegas Blancas. Chilean Pigeon was present on the approach road to the park beyond Vegas Blancas whilst Slender-billed Parakeets were absent in the area despite much searching. The main trail C starts opposite the information center that leads to Piedra del Aguila. Key birds: Black-throated Huet Huet, Chucao Tapaculo, Patagonian Tyrant, Des Mur's Wiretail, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo and Green-backed Firecrown.


A good site for birding next to the city of Temuco where there is a healthy population of Black-throated Huet Huet and Chilean pigeon is easy.


We visited here on the off chance that we might find Slender-billed Parakeet, which unfortunately were nowhere to be found. The areas to bird are the large areas of forest, the lake edge, and the open lava fields. Amazingly enough on leaving the park a much-needed stop for a pee resulted in a Slender-billed Parakeet seen flying over the car. We followed up calls of other parrots in the area and located twenty-five of them feeding at close range in a garden.


See Pearman's guide. We birded the area adjacent to the Argentinean border and other neighbouring areas for nine hours, never locating any Creamy-rumped Miners. This was a good site for Thick-billed Siskin and White-sided Hillstar, but be careful not to upset the border guards and their dogs that were not too happy with our presence in the area.


Well covered in Pearman's guide. An excellent area for birding with several Chilean endemics possible together with many other species found only in neighbouring Argentina. The Crag Chilia site appeared to be inactive during our stay according to Mark Pearman and Tom Gullick who had spent virtually a whole day looking on the slopes in the park. Please note that the park gates don't open until 8am though the park can be accessed by foot before this time by walking round the gate. We left the vehicle parked outside the park in a lay-by 50metres from the entrance and paid for entry fee/camping (nominal charge) the next morning or later in the day.


An excellent site for Stripe-backed Bittern and Black-headed Duck as covered in detail in Pearman's guide. The Duck was viewable from the hide near to the warden's house, which apparently is a regular site for this species.


In order to arrange a pelagic we went to the docks at Viña del Mar in Valparaiso where we were soon approached by a boatman who was prepared to take us out the next day for a negotiated price of 120000. On top of this we paid another 15000 for three barrels of chum and arranged to leave at 0530 to try and track down some fishing boats. Initially the captain was reluctant to go far out to see and consequently we saw few seabirds. Eventually after much persuasion we headed further out where we stayed close to two fishing boats surrounded by seabirds and Mark Pearman also on a pelagic. We spent a total of six hours at sea and scored heavily with the Albatrosses but not so lucky on the rarer Petrels.


This site marked in Pearman's book was briefly visited in the hope of locating Warbling Doradito, which unfortunately drew a blank. The best birds seen were Many-coloured Rush Tyrants and a Spectacled Tyrant.


This site was visited to fill in a bit of time and attempt to locate Dusky-tailed Canastero, which we found in small numbers on the hillside above the plots of houses. Chilean Tinamou was a bonus here together with Rufous-tailed Plantcutter.


Another excellent site covered in Pearman's book. We found several Crag Chilia here and good views of Grey-flanked Cinclodes. The Chilias were at kilometre 3.9 and 13.7 from the turn off at the main road.


Endemic Species are in bold type

Near threatened species as classified by Birdlife International = NT.

LESSER RHEA Rhea pennata             

Reasonably common on the road from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and very common on the road to Punta Dungeness, where many of the birds were very approachable.

PUNA RHEA Rhea pennata

A small group of birds close to the road approx. 2 to 7 Km. from El Tatio. Considered a subspecies of Lesser Rhea by some authorities, others a full species. NT

CHILEAN TINAMOU Nothoprocta perdicaria

A chance encounter with two birds seen near to Los Angeles at the Km88 Laja sign 500m north of La Laja turnoff. Excellent views of a bird along the roadside at Altavista, La Laguna. This species could easily be missed on a birding trip to Chile even though there are several sites marked in Pearman's guide.

PUNA TINAMOU Tinamotis pentlandii

Three birds at Lauca on the slopes above the village, 7 seen along road 5 to 7Km from El Tatio also 5 very vocal birds at Laguna Miscanti. None of the birds were particularly approachable usually scurrying away over the ridges or hiding behind rocks

PIED-BILLED GREBE Podilymbus podiceps

Two in Parque Nacional Conguillio, 10 at Laguna El Peral.

WHITE-TUFTED GREBE Rollandia rolland

Three pairs on roadside pools near to Puerto Natales, and 10 at Laguna El Peral.

SILVERY GREBE Podilymbus occipitalis

Twenty plus at Lauca, 131 on Laguna Miscanti and ten on pools in Torres del Paine. One on Tierra del Fuego at a pool where Hooded Grebe has been seen in the past by Chris Gibbons et al.

GREAT GREBE Podilymbus major

Five in Torres del Paine, several offshore of Tierra del Fuego, four at Laguna El Peral.

ROYAL ALBATROSS Diomedea epomophora

One bird paid a brief visit to the chum whilst on the pelagic off Viña del Mar.

BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS Diomedea melanophris

Very common offshore at Punta Arenas possibly as a result of the very strong winds. Four birds at sea on the Viña del Mar pelagic, very common from the El Porvenir and Bahia Azul ferry.


A minimum of twenty birds at close range on the Viña del Mar pelagic.

BULLER'S ALBATROSS Diomedea bulleri

At least two birds on the pelagic off Viña del Mar feeding amongst the other Albatross species.

SOUTHERN GIANT PETREL Macronectes giganteus

Five on the Viña del Mar pelagic, common in the channel crossing to and from Tierra del Fuego.

Three birds flew past the docks at Punta Arenas during the period of strong winds.

SOUTHERN FULMAR Fulmarus glacialoides

Ten birds close offshore at Punta Arenas possibly as a result of the foul weather and twenty plus on the El Porvenir crossing.

CAPE PETREL Daption capense

One bird on the pelagic off Viña del Mar was present for a few minutes.

WHITE-CHINNED PETREL Procellaria aequinoctialis

A few birds off Viña del Mar on the pelagic and one from the El Porvenir ferry crossing.

SOOTY SHEARWATER Puffinus griseus

One seen from the Porvenir ferry (MH).

WESTLAND (BLACK) PETREL Procellaria westlandica

One bird for certain off Viña del Mar from the pelagic but possibly up to five in the area. This species has been seen a few times in Chilean waters in recent years. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.


Fifty birds seen in small groups off Viña del Mar. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

WILSON'S PETREL Oceanites oceanicus

A minimum of 600 birds from the Alacran peninsula in Arica was tentatively identified as this species. 100 birds off Viña del Mar from the pelagic.

MAGELLANIC DIVING PETREL Pelacanoides magellani

Fifteen seen crossing from Punta Arenas to El Porvenir on the ferry most in flight with a few seen settled on the water. Thirty from the ferry at Bahia Azul mostly in flight.

PERUVIAN DIVING PETREL Pelacanoides garnotii

Ten birds seen from the boat on the Viña del Mar pelagic mostly within the first two kilometres offshore. Further out to see where we encountered the Albatrosses we saw none. This species is classified as endangered by Birdlife, in Peru we only saw one off the Paracas peninsula during a four-hour pelagic.

HUMBOLDT PENGUIN Spheniscus humboldti

Five birds at sea off Viña del Mar. NT

MAGELLANIC PENGUIN Spenicus magellanicus

Fifteen seen from the ferry to El Porvenir. There is a colony near Punta Arenas that can be visited though we spent time elsewhere in the area. Well over a hundred from the ferry at Bahia Azul.

PERUVIAN BOOBY Sula variegata

Very common off Arica. Twenty birds off Viña del Mar.

PERUVIAN PELICAN Pelacanus thagus

Very common off Arica and Viña del Mar.

OLIVACEOUS CORMORANT Phalacrocorax brasilianus

One in Lauca national park, a few on Tierra del Fuego, and Laguna El Peral.

ROCK CORMORANT Phalacrocorax magellanicus

Fifty offshore at Viña del Mar. A few on Tierra del Fuego. Probably overlooked/not noted.

RED-LEGGED CORMORANT Phalacrocorax gaimardi

Four off Arica seen by Martin(MH). NT

BLUE-EYED CORMORANT Phalacrocorax atriceps

Very common off Puerto Natales and on Tierra del Fuego

STRIPE-BACKED BITTERN Ixobrychus involucris

Six birds seen very well at Laguna El Peral, evidently a good site for this species. The birds were easily seen as they clambered about in the reeds and vegetated islands.


GREAT EGRET Casmerodius alba

One bird flying over the Azapa valley, a few at Laguna El Peral.

CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis

Common at Laguna El Peral.

SNOWY EGRET Egretta thula

One at Estero de Lampa near Santiago, common at Laguna El Peral.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax

Common at Arica, one in the Azapa valley, fifteen at Laguna El Peral.

LITTLE BLUE HERON Egretta caerulea

Two on the rocks off Arica at the Alacran peninsula.

PUNA IBIS Plegadis ridgwayi

Very common in Lauca where some were incredibly tame and easy to photograph.

BLACK-FACED IBIS Theristicus melanopis

Common from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and in Torres del Paine.

CHILEAN FLAMINGO Phoenicopterus chilensis

Common in Lauca, 50 on Laguna Miscanti and in Torres del Paine

PUNA FLAMINGO Phoenicopterus jamesi

Two at Lauca. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

COSCOROBA SWAN Coscoroba coscoroba

Four birds at km 40 on route from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales were the only individuals seen.

BLACK-NECKED SWAN Cygnus melanocorypha

Eight in Torres del Paine, 35 at Laguna El Peral.

ANDEAN GOOSE Chloephaga melanoptera

Common in Lauca, two near to El Tatio.

ASHY-HEADED GOOSE Chloephaga poliocephala

Common on roadside fields from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and a few in Torres del Paine.

RUDDY-HEADED GOOSE Chloephaga rubidiceps

One in fields at Km. 158 on the route south to Punta Arenas. Six at close range on Tierra del Fuego were near to but not associating with Ashy-headed Geese. NT

UPLAND GOOSE Chloephaga picta

Common on roadside fields from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales a few in Torres del Paine. Common on Tierra del Fuego.

KELP GOOSE Cholephaga hybrida

Only one pair near the ferry at El Porvenir, another bird that could easily be missed on a trip.

CRESTED DUCK Anas specularoides

Common in Lauca with a few on Laguna Miscanti and Menique. Common on Tierra del Fuego.

FLYING-STEAMER DUCK Tachyeres petachonicus

Two birds in Torres del Paine, three on Tierra del Fuego.


Two on Tierra del Fuego seen just offshore south of El Porvenir.

SPECTACLED DUCK Anas specularis

Six in Torres del Paine on a small laguna near to Lago Grey. NT

SPECKLED TEAL Anas flavirostris

A few in Lauca, common in the south from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine

CHILOE WIGEON Anas sibilatrix

Very common in the southern part of Chile especially Torres del Paine.

BROWN PINTAIL Anas georgica

A few at Laguna El Peral.

RED SHOVELER Anas platalea

Twenty plus on a pool in Torres del Paine, twenty-five at Laguna El Peral.

LAKE DUCK Oxyura vittata

Ten birds in Lauca, a few near to Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine. Thirty on the lakes at Laguna El Peral.

BLACK-HEADED DUCK Heteronetta atricapilla

One bird seen from the hide at Laguna El Peral was very difficult to see at times as it hid amongst the vegetation and behind the islands in the channels. NT

TURKEY VULTURE Catharates aura

Very common in the north around Lauca and the Azapa valley

ANDEAN CONDOR Vultur gryphus

A minimum of 12 birds spiraling together in Torres del Paine, one at Lauca, one at Laguna Laja, eight in Parque Nacional Conguillio, one at Portillo. This species appears to be reasonably easy to see in southern Chile compared to further north.


Two in Torres del Paine, ten on Tierra del Fuego.


One in Parque Nacional Conguillio.

RED-BACKED HAWK Buteo polyosoma

Two birds Putre, one on Tierra del Fuego and a few along the road to Punta Dungeness. Two at Laguna Laja, two at Portillo and a few at Nahuelbuta.

PUNA HAWK Buteo poecilochrous

A few in Lauca.

MOUNTAIN CARACARA Phalcoboenus carunculatus

One at El Tatio, two at Portillo.

CRESTED CARACARA Polyborus plancus

A few in Torres del Paine and on Tierra del Fuego. A few at Nahuelbuta.

CHIMANGO CARACARA Milvago chimango

Six in Torres del Paine, common at Laguna Laja. A few at Temuco and Estero de Lampa.

AMERICAN KESTREL Falco sparverius

Common in the Azapa valley, one in Torres del Paine and a few at Nahuelbuta.

CALIFORNIAN QUAIL Callipepla californica

(Introduced). One in the Azapa valley, a few at Laguna Laja, common at La Campana, a real pain when looking for Tapaculos.


Two at Laguna El Peral.

RED-GARTERED COOT Fulica armillata

A few in Torres del Paine and ten near Punta Arenas. 300 at Laguna El Peral.

WHITE-WINGED COOT Fulica leucoptera

Five birds on roadside pools between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. A few on the lakes at Laguna El Peral.

RED-FRONTED COOT Fulica rufifrons

A few at Laguna El Peral and the Rio Aconcagua. As with the previous Coot species the numbers recorded are probably not totally representative of the abundance of the species. Often Coots were simply not looked at or identified to species level.

GIANT COOT Fulica gigantea

Very common in Lauca, with many birds nesting.

HORNED COOT Fulica cornuta

294 birds counted on Laguna Menique and Miscanti, an excellent site for this species. A total of eighty nests were counted some still being built, and many not yet occupied. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

PERUVIAN THICK-KNEE Burhinus superciliaris

Two birds in the Azapa valley in the agricultural land adjacent to the dry riverbed

SOUTHERN LAPWING Vanellus chilensis

Very common in Torres del Paine and on Tierra del Fuego. A few at Laguna El Peral.

ANDEAN LAPWING Vanellus resplendens

A few in Lauca, possibly overlooked or not recorded elsewhere.

TWO-BANDED PLOVER Charadrius falklandicus

Common on Tierra del Fuego.

PUNA PLOVER Charadrius alticola

Ten birds at El Tatio in the wet area beyond the geysers.

MAGELLANIC PLOVER Pluvianellus socialis

Four adults and one juvenile watched feeding on the exposed mud and sand at the kilometre 19 post to the north of El Porvenir. The birds were not very approachable and flew a long way off one time when we approached too close. NT

TAWNY-THROATED DOTTEREL Oreopholus ruficollis

Six in fields near to Punta Dungeness found whilst searching for Rufous-chested Dotterel, a species not recorded by any birders as far as I am aware this summer.


One pair near to Lauca was nesting close to the road. These birds are on the last patch of bog on the right just before the right turn-off to a mine twenty kilometres from the Putre turn off on the main road to Lauca, where there is a sign 'Zonade de Viscachas.' The presumed male led us away from the nest, which was only discovered by mistake as we walked back to the car. The bird soon settled on the nest again having been away only a few minutes. NT


Common in the south on all fields and beaches.


Three on the rocks off Arica.


Two off Arica.

SOUTH AMERICAN STILT Himantopus himantopus

One at Laguna El Peral.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS Tringa melanoleuca

A few in Lauca.


Three at Laguna El Peral.

WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus

A few at Arica on rocks at the Alacran peninsula.

TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres

Common at Arica.

SURFBIRD Aphriza virgata

Common at Arica.

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER Calidris fuscicollis

Two on the beach at Punta Dungeness. Others may have been overlooked especially at Lauca where many birds were very distant and not identifiable.

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER Calidris bairdii

A few in Lauca, one at Laguna Miscanti and 30 at El Tatio. Hundreds Tierra del Fuego.

SOUTH AMERICAN SNIPE Gallinago paraguaiae

Three birds in fields near to Punta Arenas, one at the Rio Aconcagua.

GREY PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius

Four from the pelagic off Viña del Mar.


Thirty birds near to Lauca were incredibly flighty. The exact site is just before the Diademed Sandpiper Plover locality in an area of bog on the left of the road as you travel from Putre to Lauca.

GREY-BREASTED SEEDSNIPE Thinocorus orbignyianus

Common in Lauca.

LEAST SEEDSNIPE Thinocorus rumicivorus

Common in Torres del Paine, 60 at Calama, a few at El Tatio and near to Punta Arenas. Common on Tierra del Fuego.

DOLPHIN GULL Larus scoresbii

One juvenille in Punta Arenas, twenty on Tierra del Fuego. Possibly overlooked/not recorded.

BAND-TAILED GULL Larus belcheri

Common in Arica.

KELP GULL Larus dominicanus

Very common in the south, a few off Arica.

ANDEAN GULL Larus serranus

One at El Tatio, one at Laguna Miscanti. Common in Lauca.

FRANKLIN'S GULL Larus pipixcan

Common at Arica where virtually every bird was an adult, also common in the Valparaiso area.

BROWN-HEADED GULL Larus maculipennis

Common in Torres del Paine, two at Arica and a few in Punta Arenas and on Tierra del Fuego. A few at Laguna El Peral.

GREY GULL Larus modestus

Common in Arica, a few at Valparaiso.

CHILEAN SKUA Catharacta chilensis

One flew past the Alacran peninsula at Arica. Very common on Tierra del Fuego seen from the ferries, offshore and harassing the Tern colonies.

SOUTH-AMERICAN TERN Sterna hirundinacea

Common in colonies on Tierra del Fuego and fishing offshore.

PERUVIAN TERN Sterna lorata

Small numbers off Valparaiso.

INCA TERN Larosterna inca

Fifteen feeding offshore at Arica, six off the Viña del Mar pelagic.

ROCK DOVE Columba livia

Common in cities.

CHILEAN PIGEON Columba araucana

Three in roadside trees between Nahuelbuta and Vegas Blanca at Km28.9. Four seen at close range at Cerro Nieol in Temuco. Three at La Campana. In order not to miss this endemic it may well be worth visiting Cerro Nieol where the birds appear to be easy to see. The birds at the other sites have been seen by some but not other birders that have visited Chile. NT

EARED DOVE Zenaida auriculata

A few noted in Torres del Paine, three on Tierra del Fuego. Commonly seen whilst travelling around in central Chile, common at La Campana.


Common in the Azapa valley.

CROAKING GROUND-DOVE Columbina cruziana

Common in the Azapa valley.

PICUI GROUND-DOVE Columbina picui

A few in the Santiago area, but possibly overlooked.

BARE-FACED GROUND-DOVE Metropelia ceciliae

Very common in Lauca.

AUSTRAL PARAKEET Enicognathus ferrugineus

Four birds at Lago Grey in Torres del Paine, common at Nahuelbuta both in the forest and the approach road from Vegas Blanca. A flock of sixty at Conguillio was unfortunately all Australs with no Slender-billed Parakeets located within the park boundaries.

SLENDER-BILLED PARAKEET Enicognathus leptorynchus

This species was eventually located in agricultural land near to Parque Nacional Conguillio feeding cherry trees in the garden of Christian Ramirez Motran. The site is 21Km south of the main Victoria to Caracatin road, 2Km south of Puente Quente bridge and junction. Christian informed us that the birds were present at this time of the year every year, and often feed in his garden on the abundant fruits. NT


One bird watched eyeing up prey on Tierra del Fuego. This bird has now been split off of Great Horned Owl as noted in HBW volume 5.


Two birds eventually seen well at La Campana at campsite number 8 after three attempts. The birds responded to tape playback and although a little tricky to see to start with they eventually paired up and called to one another on an overhanging branch over the main track adjacent to the camping area. Note: the recording on the ARA tape of the Owls is the recently split Chaco Owl of Argentina, hence no response to the tape.

AUSTRAL PYGMY OWL Glaucidium nanum

One at La Campana, one other heard calling. This species was not recorded in the south despite much searching.

BARN OWL Tyto alba

One probably heard at La Campana.

ANDEAN HILLSTAR Oreotrochilus estella

Common in the dry valley at Putre.

WHITE-SIDED HILLSTAR Oreotrochilus leucopleurus

One seen poorly at Laguna Laja, four at Portillo near the Argentinian border.


One feeding in the dry valley at Putre.

GREEN-BACKED FIRECROWN Sephanoides sephanoides

Up to ten seen at Vegas Blanca and Nahuelbuta.


A minimum of ten birds in the Azapa valley.


Five birds feeding in the Azapa valley.

CHILEAN WOODSTAR Eulidia yarrellii

Three females seen feeding in a patch of flowering bushes in the Azapa valley alongside Chilean Woodstar. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

STRIPED WOODPECKER Picoides lignarius

Two at Nahuelbuta.

CHILEAN FLICKER Colaptes pitius

Two seen distantly in Torres del Paine, two at La Campana.

ANDEAN FLICKER Colaptes rupicola

Common at Lauca.

MAGELLANIC WOODPECKER Campephilus magellanicus

One pair in the forest patches along the track to view the Torres. One pair and several birds heard at Nahuelbuta.

PUNA MINER Geositta punensis

Very common in Lauca, a few around Laguna Miscanti and Menique.

COMMON MINER Geositta cunicularia

Two in Torres del Paine on two dates, overlooked/ not noted other sites.

SHORT-BILLED MINER Geositta antarctica

Abundant on Tierra del Fuego.

RUFOUS-BANDED MINER Geositta rufipennis

Common at Portillo.


One in Torres del Paine, one at Km.24 on the road to Punta Dungeness, one at Portillo.


A few possibles at Putre. The literature on this species seems a little confusing, hence we were undecided as to whether we saw this species for certain.


Three feeding at close range in the dry valley at Putre. One at Lauca.


One in the dry valley at Putre.

CRAG CHILIA Chilia melanura

Three at El Yeso, two at Km3.9, one at Km13.7 as marked on Pearman's map. The birds were very approachable seen sitting on rocks and at the base of the bushes.

DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES Cinclodes patagonicus

One in Torres del Paine, four on Tierra del Fuego, one in Conguillio, two at Portillo.

GREY-FLANKED CINCLODES Cinclodes oustaleti

One pair nesting at El Yeso and one at Torres del Paine.


Common in Lauca, two in Torres del Paine a few on Tierra del Fuego, one at El Yeso.

WHITE-WINGED CINCLODES Cinclodes atacamensis

Common in Lauca.

CHILEAN SEASIDE CINCLODES Cinclodes nigrofumosus

Several pairs along the coast at Viña del Mar and Renaca, a good site for this species where presumably any patch of rocky coastline could produce this species. This species is most common in central Chile, becoming rarer northwards. (Ridgely).

DES MUR'S WIRETAIL Sylviothorhynchus desmursii

Two at Nahuelbuta in dense bamboo eventually gave good views. One at Laja and Cerro Nieol in bamboo. This species could easily be missed due to its secretive nature.

THORN-TAILED RAYADITO Aphrastura spinicauda

Five in forest 20 kilometres south of Punta Arenas, two at Torres del Paine and common in forest at Laguna Laja. Common at Nahuelbuta, a few seen at Parque Nacional Conguillio.


Five birds feeding in the dry scrub at Putre.

PLAIN-MANTLED TIT-SPINETAIL Leptasthenura aegithaloides

Two birds feeding in low bushes around Laguna Miscanti, ten at El Tatio. Two in Parque Nacional Conguillio, and La Campana, three at Altavista, two at El Yeso.


Very common in the Putre area.


Four in chaparral type vegetation at Altavista near La Laguna, one at La Campana.


Common at Lauca, four at Laguna Miscanti, a few at El Tatio, one at Portillo.

AUSTRAL CANASTERO Asthenes anthoides

At least ten in vegetation at Km24 on the road to Punta Dungeness. Classified as vulnerable by Birdlife.

WHITE-THROATED TREERUNNER Pygarrhichas albogularis

One in forests 20 kilometres south of Punta Arenas. Five at Nahuelbuta, one at Vegas Blancas, one in Parque Nacional Conguillio.

CHESTNUT-THROATED HUET HUET Pteroptochos castaneus

One bird seen extremely well in the streambed and adjacent forest scrub 200 metres up trail at site A marked on Pearman's map in Parque Nacional La Laja. The birds were very secretive often running along the ground and disappearing under the vegetation and logs only to re appear a few metres away. Sitting quietly the bird could easily be watched as it dug around in the moss and loose vegetation.

BLACK-THROATED HUET HUET Pteroptochos tarnii

Two seen extremely well at Nahuelbuta and four others heard calling. They were incredibly difficult to see at times and only responded to tape playback sporadically or in some cases not at all. Two adults seen feeding an almost fully-grown juvenile at Cerro Nieol in Temuco which spent a lot of time sitting motionless in the low vegetation or on the ground.

MOUSTACHED TURCA Pteroptochos megapodius

Five at La Campana, easily taped out into view and sitting in full view on tree stumps and rocks calling loudly. Several seen at El Yeso and on the rocky slopes along the road to El Yeso from Santiago.

WHITE-THROATED TAPACULO Scelorchilus albicollis

Three at La Campana eventually gave excellent views in response to tape playback. The birds were more reluctant to leave cover than the Turcas, appearing more at home in dense vegetation. Calling birds would sit up in the dense foliage partly hidden and at times difficult to locate.

CHUCAO TAPACULO Scelorchilus rubecula

A fantastic bird reasonably easy to see at Nahuelbuta where a minimum of eleven were seen often in response to pishing or heard feeding amongst the leaves. At Vegas Blanca one pair was watched carrying food to a nest site located in the riverbank.


Three at Vegas Blanca seen well in dense bamboo in response to tape playback. Two at Nahuelbuta located by call.


One heard calling in Torres del Paine. Three seen at Nahuelbuta with a few others heard calling.


Three at La Campana, taped out into view. They were incredibly tame and approached to within a few feet calling loudly.


Ten birds in the Azapa valley in the dry riverbed and along the main road near the museum. At least ten seen in Torres del Paine, very common in forest near Punta Arenas. Common in forest at Laguna Laja and Nahuelbuta. Sub-species chilensis considered by some taxonomists a separate species.

PIED CRESTED TIT-TYRANT Anairetes reguloides

A few at Putre in the dry valley near to town.

TUFTED TIT-TYRANT Anaietes parulus

Two in forest twenty kilometres south of Punta Arenas, possibly not noted at other places.

MANY-COLOURED RUSH-TYRANT Tachuris rubrigastra

One at the Rio Aconcagua.

VERMILLION FLYCATCHER Pyrocephalus rubinus

One in the Azapa valley.

PATAGONIAN TYRANT Colorhamphus parvirostris

Two in forest at Nahuelbuta were tape-recorded. They were sitting about 2 to 3 metres up in the trees calling and flycatching from the perches. They were about one hours walk from the info center along trail C.


Two birds feeding around Laguna Miscanti and Menique, one at Lauca and two at Portillo.

GREAT SHRIKE-TYRANT Agriornis livida

One at Laguna Laja on the lava and steep slopes well within the park.

CINNAMON-BELLIED GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola maculirostris

Four at Km24 on the road to Punta Dungeness were the only ones seen despite much searching.

RUFOUS-NAPED GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola rufivertex

Common in Lauca.

PUNA GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola juninensis

Very common in Lauca.

WHITE-BROWED GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola albilora

Four in Torres del Paine on one date, only one the next day. One at Laguna Laja, one in Conguillio. Three at Portillo. 

CINEREOUS GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola cinerea

Two at Portillo, two at El Yeso.

OCHRE-NAPED GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola flavinucha

Three feeding along the lake edge at Laguna Miscanti.

BLACK-FRONTED GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola frontalis

Two on rocks at Laguna Miscanti.

DARK-FACED GROUND-TYRANT Muscisaxicola macloviana

Three birds in Torres del Paine along shore at Lago Grey.

CHOCOLATE-VENTED TYRANT Neoxolmis rufiventris

Two adults and three juveniles at Km15 on the road to Punta Dungeness, the only site this species was seen.

FIRE-EYED DIUCON Xolmis pyrope

Three in forest 20 kilometres south of Punta Arenas. Two at Laguna Laja and a few at Nahuelbuta.

SPECTACLED TYRANT Hymenops perspicillata

Five on fence wires north of Conguillio in agricultural land, a few at Estero de Lampa and one at the Rio Aconcagua.


Common in Torres del Paine and on Tierra del Fuego.


Four birds watched feeding and calling in vegetation along the track to view the Torres. One at Laguna Laja, a few at Altavista, the birds was often located by call.

CHILEAN SWALLOW Tachycineta meyeni

Common in the south, especially Torres del Paine. Common in central Chile.

BARN SWALLOW Hirundo rustica

Common in the Azapa valley. Four at Laguna Menique.

BLUE AND WHITE SWALLOW Notiochelidon cyanoleuca

A few over the lake at Laguna Miscanti and Menique, common in Torres del Paine. Abundant on Tierra del Fuego and at El Yeso.

HOUSE WREN Troglodytes aedon

Common in the Azapa valley and at Nahuelbuta.

CHIGUANCO THRUSH Turdus chiguanco

One in the Azapa valley.

AUSTRAL THRUSH Turdus falklandii

Common in Torres del Paine and on Tierra del Fuego. Only a few seen at La Campana.


A few at Altavista, others seen whilst driving between sites, the specific localities not noted, one at La Laja. Common at La Campana.

CORRENDERA PIPIT Anthus correndera

A few on Tierra del Fuego not noted elsewhere.


Two feeding on flowers in the dry valley at Putre.

CINEREOUS CONEBILL Conirostrum cinereum

Common in the Azapa valley.

BLUE-AND-YELLOW TANAGER Thraupis bonariensis

A few in the Azapa valley.


A few in Torres del Paine common on Tierra del Fuego and the road to Punta Dungeness.

PERUVIAN MEADOWLARK Sturnella bellicosa

One in the Azapa valley.


Three in Torres del Paine, four in forest 20 kilometres south of Punta Arenas. A few at Laguna Laja, common at Nahuelbuta. A few at La Campana and the Rio Aconcagua.


Two birds in Torres del Paine would appear too far south of their normal range though Ridgely maps them in a similar location in Argentina. A few in the dried up marshes at Estero de Lampa.

SHINY COWBIRD Molothrus bonariensis

Two birds in the Azapa valley (not mapped for this area in Ridgely), a few near to Conguillio, common at the Rio Aconcagua.

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT Volatinia jacarina

A few in the Azapa valley.


Common at Putre.


One in the Lluta valley, very common in the Azapa valley.

PATAGONIAN SIERRA-FINCH Phrygilus patagonicus

Several along roadside in the south, six seen 20km south of Punta Arenas.


Four watched at close range in Torres del Paine and four on Tierra del Fuego. Common at El Yeso.


A few in Lauca, five at Laguna Menique.

MOURNING SIERRA FINCH Phrygilus fructiceti

Common in Lauca


Common in Lauca, and a few at Laguna Miscanti and El Tatio.

RED-BACKED SIERRA FINCH Phrigulus dorsalis

Two at Lauca seen only by Keith (KT) and twelve watched feeding on the ground and in low bushes to the east of the geysers and geothermal construction at El Tatio.

WHITE-THROATED SIERRA FINCH Phrigulus erythronotus

Two birds feeding in the area of rough ground adjacent to the village on the first day, commonly seen the next day.


A few at Lauca, common around Laguna Miscanti, and El Tatio.


Common in Lauca.


Five at Laguna Laja in the same area as Great Shrike Tyrant.

SLENDER BILLED FINCH Xenospingus concolor

Common in the Azapa valley, where many juveniles were seen. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW Zonotrichia capensis

Common in the Azapa valley. Very common in the south.


Common in Lauca, a few at Laguna Menique.

GREATER YELLOW FINCH Sicalis auriventris

Common at Portillo in small groups in the surrounding scrub and hillside.

GREENISH YELLOW FINCH Sicalis olivascens

Common at Laguna Menique.


A few near the ferry at Bahia Azul, one pair 2km south of the ferry.

THICK-BILLED SISKIN Carduelis crassirostris

Three feeding on the ground adjacent to the border crossing at Portillo.

HOODED SISKIN Carduelis magellanica

Common in Lauca.

BLACK SISKIN Carduelis atrata

Five at Lauca.

YELLOW-RUMPED SISKIN Carduelis uropygialis

Five seen at close range feeding in the dry valley at Putre, twenty-five at Portillo.

BLACK-CHINNED SISKIN Carduelis barbata

Commonly heard and seen in Torres del Paine. Very common on Tierra del Fuego.

HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus

A few in Torres del Paine. Not noted at other sites.

Total number of species recorded = 226

All mainland Chilean endemic bird species seen


AUSTRAL RAIL Rallus antarcticus

Recently recorded in the southern part of Argentina and possibly in Chile. Classified as Critical by Birdlife.

RUFOUS-TAILED HAWK Buteo ventralis

A scarce raptor possible on Tierra del Fuego, central Chile or at Torres del Paine. NT

GREYISH MINER Geositta maritima

Possible in the north south to Atacama, in particular the road from Arica to Putre.

CREAMY-RUMPED MINER Geositta isabellina

Possible at Portillo.

LESSER CANASTERO Asthenes pyrrholeuca

Possible in central Chile.

CANYON CANASTERO Asthenes pudibunda

Possible at Putre.

WHITE-BROWED CHAT-TYRANT Muscisaxicola albilora

Possible at Putre.


A very scarce species that has been reported in the Putre area. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

TAMARUGO CONEBILL Conirostrum tamarugense

A few sites mentioned in Pearman's guide were not visited. Classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife.

YELLOW-BRIDLED FINCH Melanodera xanthogramma

Possible at Laguna Laja.

Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall