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  • Photograph of Diademed Sandpiper Plover

    Diademed Sandpiper Plover by David Beadle.

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    Best Birds and other wildlife in Chile


    Endemics 10 (on the mainland)
    Chilean Tinamou, Chilean Woodstar (also recorded in Peru), Pincoya Storm-petrel (also recorded in Argentina), Slender-billed Parakeet, Moustached Turca, White-throated Tapaculo, Dusky Tapaculo, Crag Earthcreeper (Chilia), Seaside Cinclodes and Dusky-tailed Canastero.


    Chile and Argentina 49
    Lesser Rhea, Patagonian Tinamou, Ashy-headed Goose, Magellanic (Flightless) Steamerduck, Spectacled Duck, Chilean Pigeon, Green-backed Firecrown, Austral Rail, Magellanic Plover, White-bellied Seedsnipe, Fuegian Snipe, Austral Pygmy-owl, Rufous-legged Owl, Chilean (Bicoloured) Hawk, Rufous-tailed Hawk, Magellanic Woodpecker, Chilean Flicker, White-throated Caracara, Austral Parakeet, Burrowing Parrot, Chestnut-throated Huet-huet, Black-throated Huet-huet, Chucao Tapaculo, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Magellanic Tapaculo, Short-billed Miner, Creamy-rumped Miner, White-throated Treerunner, Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Forest (Scale-throated) Earthcreeper, Black (Blackish) Cinclodes (Tierra del Fuego), Grey-flanked Cinclodes, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Des Murs’s Wiretail, Pallid (Plain-mantled) Tit-spinetail, Austral Canastero, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Patagonian Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, Great Shrike-tyrant, Chilean Mockingbird, Patagonian Mockingbird, Austral Blackbird, Patagonian Yellow-finch, Greater Yellow-finch, Grey-hooded Sierra-finch, Patagonian Sierra-finch and Yellow-bridled Finch.

    Chile, Argentina and Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas 17
    Kelp Goose, Upland Goose, Ruddy-headed Goose, Flying Steamerduck, Magellanic Penguin, Magellanic Diving-petrel, Rock Shag (Magellanic Cormorant), Imperial Shag, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Two-banded Plover (range also reaches Brazil), Rufous-chested Plover (range also reaches Brazil), Dolphin Gull, Striated Caracara, Austral Thrush, Black-chinned Siskin, Long-tailed Meadowlark and White-bridled Finch.

    Chile, Argentina and Bolivia 6
    Elegant Crested Tinamou, White-sided Hillstar, Horned Coot, Rock Earthcreeper, Sombre (Chiguanco) Thrush and Red-backed Sierra-finch.

    Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru 7
    Andean and Puna (James's) Flamingos, Andean Avocet, Diademed Sandpiper Plover, Puna Plover, Puna Yellow-finch and Black-hooded Sierra-finch.

    Chile, Bolivia and Peru 6
    Arequipa (Creamy-breasted) Canastero, Ticking Doradito, White-fronted Ground-tyrant, Cinereous Conebill, White-winged Diuca-finch and White-throated Sierra-finch.

    Chile and Peru 18
    Humboldt Penguin, Lesser Band-winged (Tschudi’s) Nightjar, Peruvian Sheartail (also recorded in Ecuador), Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Diving-petrel, Inca Tern, Greyish Miner, White-throated Earthcreeper, Streaked Tit-spinetail, Plain-mantled Tit-spinetail, Canyon Canastero, Pied-crested Tit-tyrant, Rufescent (Bran-coloured) Flycatcher, Peruvian Martin, Peruvian (Yellowish) Pipit, Slender-billed Finch, Tamarugo Conebill and Raimondi’s Yellow-finch.

    Chile, Peru and Ecuador 6
    Peruvian Thick-knee, Grey Gull, Belcher’s Gull, Peruvian Tern, Peruvian Pygmy-owl and Short-tailed Field-tyrant.

    Other Specialities
    King Penguin, Chilean Flamingo, Andean Condor, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Many-coloured Rush-tyrant. Also a chance of Stripe-backed Bittern, Snowy Sheathbill, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, South American Painted-snipe, Snowy-crowned Tern and Giant Conebill.

    Tinamous, Black-browed, Buller's, Chatham and Salvin's Albatrosses, Black-necked and Coscoroba Swans, geese, ducks including Torrent Duck, grebes, Pintado Petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Pelican, cormorants, Black-faced and Puna Ibises, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, caracaras, coots, Andean Lapwing, Blackish Oystercatcher, Grey-breasted and Least Seedsnipes, Andean and Grey Gulls, Black Skimmer, Chilean Skua, Burrowing and Great (Magellanic) Horned Owls, Andean Swift, Andean Hillstar, Giant Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Andean Flicker, miners, earthcreepers, cinclodes, canasteros, ground tyrants, Chocolate-vented and Spectacled Tyrants, negritos, Vermilion Flycatcher, sierra-finches, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Long-tailed and Peruvian Meadowlarks, and Black Siskin. Also a chance of Wandering (Antipodean) and both Royal Albatrosses, Cook's, Juan Fernandez, Masatierra (De Filippi's), Stejneger's and Westland Petrels, Buller's Shearwater (mostly Feb-Mar), Elliot's, Hornby's, Markham's, Wedge-rumped and White-bellied Storm-petrels, and Sabine's Gull.

    Puma, Blue Whale (mostly Feb-Mar), Chilean (Black) and Peale's Dolphins, Guanaco, Vicuna, Mountain Viscacha, Southern Pudu, Chilla, Patagonian Skunk, Marine Otter and Southern Sealion. Also a chance of Humpback Whale, Commerson's Dolphin, Kodkod, Large Hairy Armadillo and Southern River Otter.

    Pan de Azucar and Tres Cruces National Parks are particularly good for cacti.

    Other Natural Wonders of Chile

    Torres del Paine Three spectacular isolated towers of granite rising to 2670 m (8760 ft) at the southern end of the Andes in the National Park named after them.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Chile

    Photograph of Andean Condor

    The magnificent Andean Condor by Dubi Shapiro.

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Chile

    The best time to look for Puma and Blue Whale is March, when female Pumas usually have cubs to feed and are therefore more active than usual, but the peak time for birds is November, at the height of the austral spring, although from then until January can still be good. November is also the peak time for flowering cacti.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Chile

    A Wildlife Guide to Chile by S Chester. Helm, 2008.

    Mammals of South America by R D Lord. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Chile by A Jaramillo. Helm, 2003 (Revised Spanish Edition, Lynx Edicions, 2007).

    Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica by M R de la Pena and M Rumboll. Collins, 1998.

    Birds of South America: Non-Passerines by J R Roderiguez Mata et al. Harper Collins, 2006.

    Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press/Helm, 2009 (Updated paperback edition of books listed next with 400 more illustrations).

    The Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 1989 and 1994 (Two volumes).

    Where to watch birds in South America by N Wheatley. Helm, 1994.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in South America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Chile

    Many trip reports, some for Chile, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Chile. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Chile' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Chile

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Chile

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Chile

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Chile include the following.