FIELD GUIDES BIRDING TOURS: CHILE 2017
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Field Guides Tour Report
CHILE 2017
Nov 5, 2017 to Nov 25, 2017
Willy Perez & Megan Edwards Crewe


The enigmatic Magellanic Plover is one of the world's rarest and least-known shorebirds. Photo by participant Henry Feilen.

What adventures we had in Chile! From the barren starkness of Isla Grande in the south to the vast, silent stretches of the Atacama desert in the north, from spectacular peaks of Torres del Paine to the leafy Nothofagus forests of south-central Chile, from the rich, cold waters of the Humboldt current off Valparaiso to the high, stony Yeso valley and the bofedales and saline lakes of Lauca, we travelled the length and breadth of the country -- venturing to within a handful of kilometers of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru -- in search of its special birds. We had exceptionally fine weather throughout, with little wind and only a single night of rain (long after we were asleep); even our partially cloudy days were few and far between.

We had so many highlights that it's hard to know where to start! A dove-gray Magellanic Plover worked along a stony shoreline, busily flipping pebbles. Several dozen King Penguins snoozed and scratched (catastrophic molt is clearly an itchy process!) on a windswept beach. Andean Condors stretched massive wings on sunny clifftops, catching the morning rays, or circled picturesquely against snow-covered peaks. Slender-billed Parrots squabbled over fruit. A pair of Flightless Steamer-Ducks chugged along beside a coastal road. A little gang of Rufous-chested Dotterel pattered beside a boggy waterhole. A White-bridled Finch flashed yellow wings as it flitted along a roadside, and a pair of Yellow-bridled Finches crept across a flower-strewn hillside -- rewarding MANY long minutes of searching!

A pair of Magellanic Woodpeckers swooped through a stream-side forest, then hitched their way up tall trunks. A tiny Magellanic Tapaculo twitched through a mossy pile of downed branches. A Des Murs's Wiretail whizzed back and forth across a track, looking like a little brown comet. A pair of Spot-flanked Gallinules poked along the edge of a pretty stream, surrounded by a gaggle of fluff-ball chicks. A Diademed Sandpiper-Plover stepped delicately along a little rivulet, plucking morsels from the water's edge. A Moustached Turca danced along a railing with a beak full of insects, passing literally within arm's reach of a number of us. A Chestnut-throated Huet-huet scurried across a snow-covered hillside, edging ever closer.

Peruvian Sheartails jousted with Oasis Hummingbirds over a city tree's ample blossoms. Four species of albatross -- including at least one point-blank Buller's Albatross and several immense Royal Albatrosses -- circled our boat or launched themselves after thrown fish bits. A trio of Tamarugo Conebills slipped through finely-leaved vegetation. A nesting pair of Crag Chilias brought mouthful after mouthful of insects to a narrow crack in a roadside rock face. A pair of jinx-busting Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes picked their way across a bofedale.

And everywhere, Chile's dramatic scenery provided a splendid backdrop for the birds. At Torres del Paine, a rose-gold sunrise gilded the famous peaks. The gently undulating Patagonian steppe stretched to the horizon in all directions, its sere grasslands dotted with Darwin's Rheas and the omnipresent Guanacos. Verdant Nothofagus forests trailed beards of gray-green lichen. The fantastically turquoise waters of Yeso's reservoir reflected the snow-covered peaks beyond. Twin volcanic cinder cones, cloaked in snow, dominated the high-altitude landscape at Lauca. And who will soon forget the ever-changing moonscape of the Atacama desert -- impossibly high "sand dunes" and water-carved canyons in an area that hasn't known rain in a generation. Even the roiling, wind-tossed surf off Valparaiso was impressive -- though the beauty was probably lost on those who were adversely impacted by those waves during our pelagic!

Willy and I really enjoyed sharing this amazing country with you. Your enthusiasm, spotting ability, sense of fun and easy camaraderie helped to make the trip a real success -- and a whole lot of fun. We hope to see you all again soon!

-- Megan and Willy


KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant



We got some great close looks at the "Darwin's" subspecies (pennata) of Lesser Rhea all across Patagonia. Photo by participant Charlotte Byers.

BIRDS
Rheidae (Rheas)
LESSER RHEA (PUNA) (Rhea pennata tarapacensis) – Unfortunately, the only ones we found, in Lauca, were pretty far away -- so that with the heat haze (!!), they were little more than wavery brown blobs in the scopes. Fortunately, there isn't much you can confuse them with!
LESSER RHEA (DARWIN'S) (Rhea pennata pennata) – Abundant in southernmost Chile, with dozens and dozens along the roads -- even some of the busiest ones! Particularly fun was the watchful dad with his pile of sleeping striped chicks along the Ruta Pampa Larga, the gang hanging with the Guanacos near the entrance to Torres del Paine, and the birds racing the bus along the fence line on the first stretch of the road up to Sierra Baguales.
Tinamidae (Tinamous)
ORNATE TINAMOU (Nothoprocta ornata) – Our first was the briefest of views -- one scurrying off through the roadside vegetation above Putre -- and it eluded us despite Willy's best bird-dogging efforts. Some good spotting by Willy netted us views of three feeding quietly on the edge of an open patch of dirt along the road to Lauca, but our best views came on our way down from the heights, when we found an incredibly cooperative bird that paraded along right beside the bus. Wow!
CHILEAN TINAMOU (Nothoprocta perdicaria) – It took a little patience (and more than a little luck) but we finally spotted a pair of these beautifully cryptic birds creeping through the grasses on a hillside on the lower flanks of Farellones -- just below curve 14, to be exact! [E]


The Coscoroba Swan isn't really a swan at all, despite its name; it's actually a goose! Photo by participant Charlotte Byers.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-NECKED SWAN (Cygnus melancoryphus) – Fairly widespread across much of Chile, with pairs (or more) seen in ponds, lakes and coastal waters from Santiago south -- including a pair with a number of fluffy cygnets at Humedal de Cartajena. [N]
COSCOROBA SWAN (Coscoroba coscoroba) – A pair with a trio of fluffy cygnets in a windswept pond north of the King Penguin colony on Isla Grande, another pair with cygnets at Humedal de Cartajena (where the ranger told us the birds showed up on their own several years ago), and a final pair preening in the estuary at Puente San Geronimo. [N]
ANDEAN GOOSE (Oressochen melanopterus) – Pairs in many of the streamlets and bofedales (boggy areas) in the puna areas we passed en route to Lauca -- including our first, right near the road. Like the following species, this one is a "sheldgoose": not a true goose, but actually a duck belonging to the subfamily Tadorninae (and closely related to the shelducks). The word "sheld", which derives from the word "shield", means variegated or speckled, presumably referring to the ornamentation placed on many shields.
UPLAND GOOSE (Chloephaga picta) – Almost ridiculously common in southernmost Chile, with hundreds of birds seen -- both in scattered pairs, and in flocks of several dozen -- during the first week of the tour. The semi-tame pairs around our hotel at Torres del Paine were particularly approachable.


We found many pairs of Andean Geese in the highlands of northern Chile. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

ASHY-HEADED GOOSE (Chloephaga poliocephala) – At least three individuals at Humedal Los Tres Puentes near Punta Arenas, scattered among the far more numerous Upland Geese. The gray head and rufous breast of this handsome species is distinctive.
RUDDY-HEADED GOOSE (Chloephaga rubidiceps) – One, wearing some serious leg bling, mingled with the Upland Geese at Humedal de Tres Puentes on our first afternoon. With patience, we all got nice scope views of its rusty vent, bright orange legs and thin white eye ring. This species is in serious trouble on the South American mainland, with fewer than 1000 birds remaining there. Fortunately, it's much more common on the Falklands, and is not considered to be in imminent danger of extinction.
FLYING STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres patachonicus) – By far the more common of the two steamer-ducks, sprinkled across freshwater ponds and coastal edges in the south -- including a hen with fluffy ducklings at Humedal Los Tres Puentes (along with several other duckling-less pairs), and a single drake floating near the bridge out to our hotel at Torres del Paine. [N]
FLIGHTLESS STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres pteneres) – Scattered pairs along the edge of the bay we traversed en route to the King Penguin colony on Island Grande, with especially good studies of the first two. This species is larger than its flying cousin -- though with ridiculously short wings. Both male and female have orange beaks and grayish faces.
CRESTED DUCK (Lophonetta specularioides) – Common throughout the country, and seen well in many places -- including some with ducklings on the pond with all the Giant Coots in Lauca. This one should have been called "Speckled Duck"! [N]
SPECTACLED DUCK (Speculanas specularis) – We found a pair in a roadside puddle shortly after entering the park at Torres del Paine, but got even better views the next morning, when we found 8 in another pond. They twisted and turned on the water's surface, and the sun angles changed the speculums visible on several of them from metallic green to vibrant "desert rose" and back. This near-threatened species is not common in Chile.
CHILOE WIGEON (Anas sibilatrix) – The most widespread of the tour's ducks (though not necessarily the most numerous) seen in every region except the far north. Our best looks probably came at Humedal Los Tres Puentes -- primarily because they were our first, so we looked at them with the scopes!
CINNAMON TEAL (Anas cyanoptera) – A pair -- with the ruddy drake far more easily spotted than his more camouflaged mate -- seen resting on the far shore of the Tolten River as we made our way up the coast towards Temuco. We also had a group of several score rise from the marshes at Lampa, their blue wing patches flashing, and more swimming at the mouth of the Lluta River on our last morning.
RED SHOVELER (Anas platalea) – A few dozen floated on the waters of the Humedal de Cartajena, or slept tucked up along the banks. The huge bill of this species makes it pretty unmistakable.
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (Anas georgica) – Small numbers seen on scattered days in most regions (bar the far north), including our first pair along the back edge of a pond at Torres del Paine (nice spotting, Bill P).
PUNA TEAL (Anas puna) – A handful of these attractive ducks on a few ponds in Lauca and near Parinacota, including one paddling past a gaggle of feeding Chilean Flamingoes.
YELLOW-BILLED TEAL (FLAVIROSTRIS) (Anas flavirostris flavirostris) – Our first were some flyovers at Humedal de Tres Puentes on our first afternoon. Fortunately, a close pair floating in a roadside pond en route to the King Penguin colony proved far more cooperative, giving us great looks at their yellow beaks -- and the speckled backs that give them the alternate name of "Speckled Teal". We saw this small species regularly throughout much of the tour.


We found a family of Flying Steamer-Ducks at our very first birding venue, en route to our hotel from the airport in Punta Arenas. Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

YELLOW-BILLED TEAL (OXYPTERA) (Anas flavirostris oxyptera) – This, the highland form of the Yellow-billed Teal, was seen nicely near the Lauca ranger's station, where we found a quartet snoozing near our viscachas. This subspecies is much paler on the breast than is the more widespread "flavirostris".
RUDDY DUCK (ANDEAN) (Oxyura jamaicensis ferruginea) – Single males seen on a couple of occasions at Torres del Paine, with a female spotted at the far end of a pond full of Giant Coots near Parinacota.
LAKE DUCK (Oxyura vittata) – A dozen or so (mostly males) floated on the manmade lake at Humedal de Cartajena or snoozed along its edges. This species is very similar to the previous, but lacks the bump at the base of the bill; females also have stripier faces, and both sexes typically swim with their tails flat against the water.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Callipepla californica) – Our best views came on our walk along Quebrada de Cordova, where we had a close pair on the steep bank right beside us (just as we heard our first tapaculos); shortly afterwards, they flew across the path and proceeded to march down a little concrete dam and then fly up into a dead tree. We saw other, more distant birds on the way up to Farellones.


Is it just me, or do White-tufted Grebes look slightly unhinged? Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)
WHITE-TUFTED GREBE (Rollandia rolland) – Two fishing in one of the ponds at Humedal de Tres Puentes flashed their diagnostic white facial feathers as they repeatedly dove after prey, but our best views probably came at Torres del Paine, where two interacting pairs called and chased each other around on the lake near the second entrance. We saw others at Humedal de Cartajena, and at the Lluta river mouth.
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps) – At least a half dozen floated on the waters of the little creek at Puente San Geronimo, all in top breeding appearance -- i.e. with a strong black-and-white pattern on their beaks. This species is resident in much of Chile.
GREAT GREBE (Podiceps major) – Hector, our ace driver in the far south, spotted our first pair, right beside the road between Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine. We found another bird, calling mournfully, under a bridge in Torres del Paine, another hunting just offshore from our hotel in Puerto Varas and a few more around Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.
SILVERY GREBE (PATAGONIAN) (Podiceps occipitalis occipitalis) – A pair, showing the golden facial tufts of this subspecies, floated on the pond at Buque Quemado. In answer to a question that came up on the tour, the region of Patagonia encompasses the southern end of both Chile and Argentina. In Chile, the region starts a bit south and east of Puerto Montt. In Argentina, it extends much further north -- as far as the Colorado and Barrancas rivers.


Sunrise at Torres del Paine arrived with a blaze of color. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
CHILEAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus chilensis) – By far the most common of the tour's flamingoes, and the only one found at lower altitudes. Our closest looks came at Lauca, where we saw hundreds.
ANDEAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicoparrus andinus) – A handful at Lauca, lurking among the far more numerous Chilean Flamingoes. These were the ones with the large black patch at the back end; half of their bills were black.
JAMES'S FLAMINGO (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) – A trio in one of the more distant ponds at Lauca, distinguished by their smaller size and the narrow black patch at their back end. Only the very tip of their bill is black. This species is also known as Puna Flamingo.
Spheniscidae (Penguins)
KING PENGUIN (Aptenodytes patagonicus patagonicus) – it was a looooooong drive over the Parque Pinguino Rey (on Isla Grande), but well worth the effort. We had fine close views of several score of these big penguins as they lounged either on the grassy steppe or the stony beaches. Most were youngsters in various stages of molting in their adult plumage (though there were at least 10 "brown overcoat" babies), with a few full adults snoozing among them. This is a brand-new colony, first appearing at the location a decade ago.


We enjoyed great views of a number of King Penguins going through their annual "catastrophic molt"; they're out of the water for a whole month while they replace every single one of their feathers! Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

MAGELLANIC PENGUIN (Spheniscus magellanicus) – Seen on each of our crossings of the Straits of Magellan, with particularly nice looks at a pair right near the ferry on our shorter crossing.
Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
BULLER'S ALBATROSS (Thalassarche bulleri) – At least one, and possibly two of these mollymawks, which are uncommon in Chilean waters, on our pelagic out of Valparaiso. One pattered on the water beside the boat, gobbling chunks of frozen fish thrown by the crew, and giving us repeated looks of its distinctively yellow-striped bill in the process.
SALVIN'S ALBATROSS (Thalassarche salvini) – Very common on our Valparaiso pelagic, with as many as a half dozen at a time sitting on the water around our boat. Their darker gray heads, uniformly gray beak, and dark "eyebrow" were distinctive.
BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS (Thalassarche melanophris) – Very, very common on our pelagic trip out of Valparaiso. This was the smallest of the trip's albatrosses -- and the one we saw most of on the water around our boat.


Our Valparaiso pelagic was bouncy (!!) but productive, with four species of albatross seen -- including this handsome Buller's Albatross. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

ROYAL ALBATROSS (NORTHERN) (Diomedea epomophora sanfordi) – Singles of this enormous bird, which has one of the largest wingspans of any bird in the world, (only the Wandering Albatross has longer wings) flew past at least three different times on our Valparaiso pelagic. The second bird may have been a "Southern" Royal Albatross (subspecies epomophora) -- Franco's assessment, based on some subtle plumage differences.
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL (Macronectes giganteus) – Surprisingly common at the narrow end of the Straits of Magellan, with a half dozen or more seen gliding along the shoreline as we waited for the ferry, and others seen from the ferry itself. But our best views probably came on the Valparaiso pelagic, when a brash youngster fended off a quartet of albatrosses to gobble down some of the giant chunks of fish the boatmen were throwing.
SOUTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialoides) – Plenty of these chunky seabirds seen on our first ferry crossing of the Straits of Magellan, with some quite close to the boat. We had another one or two on the Valparaiso pelagic.
WHITE-CHINNED PETREL (Procellaria aequinoctialis) – A couple of very close birds as we approached Isla Grande gave those of us still on deck quick views of their diagnostically pale bills as they coursed back and forth in front of the ferry. We had another couple of singletons check out the action on our Valparaiso pelagic, but they declined to join the scrum around the thrown fish.


A Southern Giant Petrel and a Salvin's Albatross disagree over who has rights to a fish thrown from our pelagic boat. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATER (Ardenna creatopus) – Abundant on our Valparaiso pelagic, with scores seen paddling on the choppy waves right around our boat -- so close we could clearly see their pink feet. This species was larger and bulkier than the next, with a white chest and belly.
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea) – Plenty of these sleek, dark shearwaters streamed past our boat on the Valparaiso pelagic, flashing their silvery underwings as they coasted along the waves. But the REAL numbers came offshore of Santo Domingo, where tens of thousands swarmed past in seemingly endless numbers. We had smaller numbers (though probably our closest views) on the Arica pelagic.
PERUVIAN DIVING-PETREL (Pelecanoides garnotii) – Several score of these small seabirds seen on our Arica pelagic, flying on whirring wings past our boat. Our best views came shortly before we turned back towards town, when we found a group of 10 or so floating in a compact raft on the flat calm sea.
MAGELLANIC DIVING-PETREL (Pelecanoides magellani) – Reasonably common on our longer ferry crossing to Isla Grande, with a few dozen seen flying past on whirring wings; unfortunately, none was particularly close. They looked to be roughly football-shaped -- and not nearly as aerodynamic!


Peruvian Boobies were common along the central and northern coast. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

Hydrobatidae (Storm-Petrels)
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus) – A handful of these, the world's most populous seabird, around Valparaiso, including one dancing across the water's surface near one the city's high-rise hotels, seen as we returned after our bouncy pelagic.
ELLIOT'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites gracilis) – A few seen on our Arica pelagic, including one that twisted and turned down the left side of the boat on our return, showing its diagnostic white vent.
MARKHAM'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma markhami) – Unfortunately, our best views were of two birds flailing on the water's surface as we returned from our Arica pelagic; they were clearly waterlogged and in serious trouble, though we couldn't figure out what had happened to them.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
PERUVIAN BOOBY (Sula variegata) – Very common along the central Chilean coastline, with small flocks flying in every direction along the shorelines, and dozens flinging themselves into the sea in the Valparaiso harbor. We had some great "up close" views of a few hundred on Renaca Rock, north of Vina del Mar, and some more distant groups around Arica.


Sparring Imperial Cormorants (the King Cormorant subspecies) entertained us near our hotel in Punta Arenas. Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
RED-LEGGED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) – Dozens festooned the jetty protecting the Arica harbor, sharing space with multitudes of Peruvian Pelicans and big, dull red crabs. We saw others flying past our boat in the bay around Valparaiso.
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Seen on scattered days from south-central Chile to the far north, with some close looks at breeding-plumaged birds drying out on snags and sand bars at Parque La Isla, north of Vina del Mar.
MAGELLANIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax magellanicus) – Seen especially well on Isla Grande, as we waited for the ferry at Cruce Bahia Azul; scattered birds were hunting in the waters just offshore, or flying along the shoreline. We saw others (mostly asleep, so "missing" their heads for much of the time) on the big jetty across the street from our hotel in Punta Arenas.
GUANAY CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) – Good numbers of these big "one eyed" cormorants along the central Chilean coastline, particularly in the Valparaiso harbor, where dozens flew past our boat in small groups, just above the waves. We saw a few others on our Arica pelagic.
IMPERIAL CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax atriceps atriceps) – This subspecies, also known as the "Blue-eyed Cormorant" is the more generally widespread of the two Imperial Cormorant subspecies. However, it was the harder of the two to find around Punta Arenas, which is where we finally located one among a big flock of "King Cormorants" on the jetty across from our hotel.
IMPERIAL CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax atriceps albiventer) – Most of the Imperials we saw around Punta Arenas were this typically eastern subspecies -- the "King Cormorant". They have less white on the face than the "Blue-eyed Cormorant" does.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
PERUVIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus thagus) – Regular along the coast in central and northern Chile, including scores standing on the rocks protecting the harbor at Arica, and dozens of others plunging into the sea around the boat on our Valparaiso pelagic, pursuing the chunks of fish being lobbed in their direction by the deckhands. This species strongly resembles the Brown Pelican of points north, but has a much more colorful bill.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
STRIPE-BACKED BITTERN (Ixobrychus involucris) – A lucky few happened to be looking in the right direction when one of these small herons flushed from the reeds as we tromped across the wet fields at Lampa in search of painted-snipes.
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi) – One in a lagoon near Tolten flew off shortly after we stopped for a quick look at it, flapping ponderously across to the far side of the water, and we saw another in flight over the wetlands at Lampa. This species is closely related to the Great Blue Heron.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Scattered individuals at wetlands across northern and central Chile, including a few fishing along the banks of the Tolten River and one or two others towering over the multitude of Snowy Egrets at the Lluta river mouth on the last morning of the tour.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – A couple stepped gracefully along the banks of the little river at Puente San Geronimo, their yellow feet flashing in the early morning sunshine.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Two -- an all-blue adult and an all-white youngster -- flew past with necks outstretched as we started our way towards Sobraya after our lunch in San Miguel Azapa, and we saw another youngster (this one with dusky wingtips) hunting in the little pond at the Lluta river mouth our last morning.


Peruvian Pelicans look rather like Brown Pelicans -- except for that very colorful beak, that is! Photo by participant Bill Byers.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Scattered birds seen along roadsides by a few folks here and there in southern and central Chile. Our best group views came at Lampa, where a few flew past while we searched for painted-snipes.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (AMERICAN) (Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli) – Small numbers in Chile's far north, including a still-spotty youngster standing in a shallow pond near Parinacota, another youngster standing on a tire at the water's edge in Arica harbor, and still another youngster (and an adult) hunting along the edge of the pond at the Lluta river mouth.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (DUSKY) (Nycticorax nycticorax obscurus) – This is the more widespread of Chile's Black-crowned Night-Heron subspecies. We found our first -- a second summer bird partway through its plumage changes -- huddled on a windswept shore on Isla Grande, just about as far south as you can get in Chile. We found others as far north as El Tabo, the picturesque spot along the coast south of Valparaiso, where we had our empanada lunch.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi) – A loose flock of 40 or so poked and prodded in a wet field near Tolten, seen on the day we transferred to Temuco.


The Puna Ibis is typically a high-elevation species, though it can be found right down to sea level -- as we saw at the mouth of the Lluta River! Photo by participant Bill Byers.

PUNA IBIS (Plegadis ridgwayi) – A few pairs seen in and around wetlands in the highlands, including a couple of close birds poking and prodding among a herd of Vicunas in Lauca. We also found a couple at the Lluta river mouth our last morning, to the delight of Charlotte, who'd missed our highland birds. Though it's a highland species, this one regularly descends to coastal wetlands like the ones around Arica.
BLACK-FACED IBIS (Theristicus melanopis) – Almost ridiculously common on the first half of the trip, with dozens (scores... hundreds!) seen daily in fields and pastures all across the south. Their odd beeping calls were a regular part of the tour's soundtrack there.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Particularly common around Puerto Montt, including dozens spiraling in big kettles over Lahuen Nadi, and others along the highway.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Particularly abundant around Arica, and over the various oasis valleys, where there were often dozens in view at once; it's hard to imagine there's enough dead stuff around to keep them all sufficiently fed!


An iconic Chilean scene: an Andean Condor (Chile's national bird) against a snowy backdrop at Torres del Paine. Photo by participant Charlotte Byers.

ANDEAN CONDOR (Vultur gryphus) – Gratifyingly common throughout much of the trip, including a group warming up along the roadside cliffs at Cerro Castillo (not far from where we found our first Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle), a few soaring over Shangrila, a big, slow kettle circling over the ski slope at Farellones, and one gliding along over the massive sand dunes in the barren Atacama desert as we descended from Putre. This is Chile's national bird.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – A few distant birds seen hovering over roadside fields as we journeyed north from Puerto Varas, with others seen between Santiago and Vina del Mar.
CINEREOUS HARRIER (Circus cinereus) – A male coursed past the King Penguin colony, wobbling in the stiff winds and alternately flashing its grayish upperwing and black-handed white underwing. We saw another low over some wetlands on our pre-breakfast outing at Torres del Paine.
BICOLORED HAWK (CHILEAN) (Accipiter bicolor chilensis) – One swooped past the parking lot and picnic area at Lahuen Nadi, snagging a Chilean Swallow on its way by.


A pair of courting White-throated Hawks cartwheeled over the forest at Termas de Chillan. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

HARRIS'S HAWK (Parabuteo unicinctus) – Some great spotting by Charlotte netted us an immature bird sitting in a nearby bush, only a couple of feet of the ground. Its brown spotted breast blended perfectly with the shadows thrown by the thorny bush it sat in. We saw an adult briefly, being chased by kestrels in Lluta Valley.
VARIABLE HAWK (Geranoaetus polyosoma) – Regular in the middle part of the tour (central Chile), including our first adults soaring in the blue, blue skies over the ski resort and ridges of Termas de Chillan, an immature bird gliding past at Cuesto Lo Prado, a red-backed female sailing down the canyon at Quebrada de Corbova and other adults in the Yeso Valley and at Parva.
BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE (Geranoaetus melanoleucus) – Our first was a flying bird along the Ruta Pampa Larga, which showed the diagnostic flight profile of this big raptor -- all broad wings and practically no tail! But our best views came the following day, when Willy spotted one perched on a cliff along the highway. We had great scope views before if flew off in hot pursuit of a couple of Southern Caracaras that had the audacity to perch in a nearby tree. A few minutes later, we watched it return, pursued by an agitated mob of Chimango Caracaras. We had nice looks at another trio being chased around by kestrels at Farellones, and another flyby during our picnic lunch in the Yeso valley.
WHITE-THROATED HAWK (Buteo albigula) – Two cartwheeled in the sky over a Nothofagus forest near Termas de Chillan, apparently courting -- and a nearby young Variable Hawk appeared to get briefly caught up in the games. The plain underwing of this species helps to separate this small hawk from its fellow Buteos.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
SPOT-FLANKED GALLINULE (Porphyriops melanops) – A pair with six fuzzy black chicks paddled down the far side of Quebrada de Cordoba, seen as we first pulled up to park at the start of our walk along the stream.
PLUMBEOUS RAIL (Pardirallus sanguinolentus) – Fine views of this big, dark rail, thanks to the raiding fox that prowled along the edge of the lake near the Torres del Paine entrance booth -- great spotting, Charlotte! It trailed along in the fox's wake, keeping an eye on things, and striding right out into the open while doing so. Nice! A few folks spotted another briefly at Puente San Geronimo.
COMMON GALLINULE (AMERICAN) (Gallinula galeata pauxilla) – Abundant in the busy pond at the Lluta river mouth, with at least a dozen chugging back and forth across the water.
RED-GARTERED COOT (Fulica armillata) – By far the most regularly-seen coot of the trip, widespread and generally common. The mass of them preening on the beach at Puente San Geronimo was a bit unexpected -- and the two fluffy black chicks being fed by their parents right under the bridge were so ugly they were cute! [N]
RED-FRONTED COOT (Fulica rufifrons) – A couple foraging along the far side of the little river at Puente San Geronimo were eventually chased off by an aggressive Red-gartered Coot. The red forehead shield often just looks dark from a distance.


Searching for painted-snipes at Lampa. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

GIANT COOT (Fulica gigantea) – Scores of these aptly named birds floated on ponds up at Lauca; many of them already had fluffy black chicks in tow, though others were still constructing their (equally gigantic) nests. [N]
WHITE-WINGED COOT (Fulica leucoptera) – A couple -- both showing bright yellow forehead shields -- floated among the far more numerous Red-gartered Coots at Buque Quemado, on the Patagonian steppe. Another far less cooperative bird played hide and seek along the reedy edge of the Lluta river mouth on our last morning.
Pluvianellidae (Magellanic Plover)
MAGELLANIC PLOVER (Pluvianellus socialis) – Wow -- this was surely one of the easiest Magellanic Plover finds ever! We climbed down the hill at Laguna Verde, walked about a hundred yards or so along the stony shore, listened as Willy explained what to look for and where, and "is this one?" said Bill P. We all enjoyed fabulous views, working our way closer and closer as it continued to forage, completely unconcerned by our presence. This is one of the world's least-known shorebirds.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (WHITE-BACKED) (Himantopus mexicanus melanurus) – Our best views came at Lampa, where we found many breeding pairs while searching for painted-snipes; we had to change our course once, when a female started doing a flapping "catch me I'm helpless" distraction display.


We saw plenty of Magellanic Oystercatchers in the far south. Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

ANDEAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra andina) – At least two pairs on one of the more distant ponds at Lauca: two birds snoozing on a far bank, and two more scything the water in their distinctive feeding action.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) – Three calling birds being chased off by the local Magellanic Oystercatchers at the Primero Angostura ferry ramp were a surprise; this species is quite rare that far south. They were much more common along the coast in central and northern Chile -- particularly around Arica, where pairs were liberally sprinkled along the beach.
BLACKISH OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ater) – At least four picked their way among the rocks and seaweed at Renaca rock, proving surprisingly difficult to spot as they dodged the waves. We saw others at El Tabo, while waiting for our empanadas to be served.
MAGELLANIC OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus leucopodus) – Quite common, both along the southern coastline, and around scattered wet spots in the grassy Patagonian steppe along Ruta Pampa Larga; the noisy pair on the beach near the ferry ramp at Cruce Bahia Azul were particularly cooperative. We got pretty familiar with their thin, high, whistling call during the first week of the tour.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
TAWNY-THROATED DOTTEREL (Oreopholus ruficollis) – Two on a sheep-nibbled plain south of the Argentinian border were only meters from our bus windows. If we hadn't just seen the Rufous-chested Dotterels, they probably would have been rated the prettiest birds of the day!
SOUTHERN LAPWING (CHILENSIS/FRETENSIS) (Vanellus chilensis chilensis) – If we had a dollar for every one we saw, we probably could have paid for our trips!
TWO-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius falklandicus) – Our first were a trio snuggled in the kelp wrack line near the King Penguin colony, trying to stay out of the fierce wind -- good spotting, Craig! We saw another pair near one of the many cattle guards along the Ruta Pampa Larga.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – One pattered around in the company of a lone Sanderling at the Lluta river mouth on our last morning. [b]
RUFOUS-CHESTED DOTTEREL (Charadrius modestus) – Some great spotting by Hector, our driver in the far south, netted us superb views of a handful rummaging along the edges of a roadside wet spot along Ruta Pampa Larga. What a gorgeous little bird!
DIADEMED SANDPIPER-PLOVER (Phegornis mitchellii) – What a special encounter we had with this enigmatic bird! After our picnic lunch, we headed out into the spectacular Yeso valley, and found one feeding along the edge of a little rivulet less than 150 yards from where we'd been eating -- great spotting, Charlotte! Despite a couple of somewhat intrusive fisherman, and a horde of very intrusive motorcyclists, we spent 20 minutes or so watching as it picked its way along, gobbling tidbits almost nonstop. This is a very rare species, with a world population estimated to number between 1500 and 7000. In answer to a question raised on the tour, they nest on the ground, building a circular nest of grasses.
Thinocoridae (Seedsnipes)
RUFOUS-BELLIED SEEDSNIPE (Attagis gayi) – A pair along the road up to Lauca NP seemed completely unfazed by our presence on the nearby road; they continued to nibble their way across the soggy bofedale, looking a bit like slowly moving rocks.
GRAY-BREASTED SEEDSNIPE (Thinocorus orbignyianus) – At least a half dozen in Yeso's dry valley, beyond the dam. David and Linda spotted a couple of them; we had nice scope views of our first pair, and a right-beside-the-bus look at another. Males lack the dark central breast stripe of the smaller males of the next species.

A close encounter with a confiding Diademed Sandpiper-Plover was a highlight of our magical day in the Yeso valley. Video by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
LEAST SEEDSNIPE (Thinocorus rumicivorus) – We'd stopped to look at yet another Southern Gray Fox, when Willy spotted one of these small "shorebirds", standing sentinel near the edge of a nearby ridge. We crept steadily closer, then Willy walked around behind him to turn him our way, so that we could see his distinctive markings -- including that big black stripe down the middle of his chest.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus) – Very common on the Tolten River, poking their long, curved bills into the sand bars and muddy banks, with others along the coast at Santa Domingo and Arica -- including a flock of 15 or so that dropped into the pond we visited at the Lluta river mouth. This boreal breeder is a winter visitor. [b]
HUDSONIAN GODWIT (Limosa haemastica) – A single bird, up to its belly in the water at the Lluta river mouth, probing incessantly with its long pink-based bill. It took some patience at the scopes (somehow it always seemed to be behind the grass), but we got there in the end. [b]
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – A few poked along the rocky shoreline near Renaca rock, and we spotted others investigating the rocky jetties around Arica's harbor, with a final few along the beach near the Lluta river mouth. [b]


South American Snipe were common in lowland wetlands. Photo by participant Henry Feilen.

SURFBIRD (Calidris virgata) – Two preened among the boulders at Renaca rock, making life difficult for the vertically challenged among us! Fortunately, one eventually walked out where it was easier to see. [b]
STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus) – One foraging in the little pond at the Lluta river mouth was a surprise; this is an uncommon species in Chile. Its method of feeding (like a fast sewing machine) and its long, slightly droopy-tipped bill are distinctive. [b]
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – An army of several hundred massed along the shore at Santo Domingo, chasing the waves, and a single bird foraged along the back edge of the pond near the Lluta river mouth. [b]
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii) – This was probably the tour's most widespread sandpiper, found from the shores of Isla Grande in the south to the edges of one of the roadside puddles in Lauca NP in the far north. The bulk of the world's Baird's Sandpipers overwinter in Patagonia. [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – A couple of these small peeps foraged on the back edge of the pond at the Lluta river mouth. [b]


A pair of handsome Tawny-throated Dotterels trotted across the plains as we headed to Torres del Paine. Photo by guide Willy Perez.

SOUTH AMERICAN SNIPE (MAGELLANIC) (Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica) – Pretty common in wet spots in the south, with some nice scope looks at several places. The quartet at Buque Quemado were particularly entertaining as they did their rollercoaster display flights over the steppe, tails flared as they dove.
RED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus fulicarius) – Two amid the waves on our Valparaiso were too much of a challenge for most, given the motion of the ocean! They were quickly out of view behind the next cresting wave -- nice spotting, David! [b]
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – A group of a half dozen or so foraged and rested in the wetlands at Buque Quemado in the Patagonian steppe, a few fed in the shallows along the edges of the Tolten river, and others chased prey in several of the ponds in Lauca NP. [b]
Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)
CHILEAN SKUA (Stercorarius chilensis) – Seen from just about every conceivable angle on our ferry crossing to Porvenir, with other close flybys at Laguna Verde -- including two right over our heads as we finished lunch. These big thugs are major predators of penguin chicks, and major harassers of gulls and terns (as we saw when we watched one chasing a hapless South American Tern on our ferry crossing).
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
ANDEAN GULL (Chroicocephalus serranus) – Lovely views of these handsome gulls at Lauca NP, including a trio who checked us out for potential handouts near where we found our Andean Flickers.
BROWN-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus maculipennis) – Our first were a pair floating in the roadside pond at Buque Quemado, and they were reasonably common along the coast between Puerto Montt and Temuco. Most were adults in full breeding plumage (including those eponymous brown heads), but there were a few immature birds from last year's broods.
DOLPHIN GULL (Leucophaeus scoresbii) – Especially nice views of a handsome adult standing on one of the concrete benches across the road from our hotel in Punta Arenas our first morning; we also saw a few dark-headed immature birds while waiting for the Isla Grande ferry to depart. This species was regular along the southernmost coastline, but nowhere near as common as the Kelp Gull. Despite considerable effort, I couldn't find any explanation of this bird's name!
GRAY GULL (Leucophaeus modestus) – Common along the coast in Arica, including dozens in small groups (usually two or three) passing by our boat during our very calm pelagic there. We had a couple of others along the back edge of the pond near the Lluta river mouth.
FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan) – Thousands and thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS! A seemingly endless stream of them flapped past our boats on our pelagics, and thousands of others streamed into the bay at Santo Domingo for a bath and a preen. When disturbed by passing horses, the rising flock looked like a veritable blizzard! [b]
BELCHER'S GULL (Larus belcheri) – Regular along the coast at Arica, with grubby-looking immature birds far outnumbering their sleeker parents.
KELP GULL (Larus dominicanus) – Abundant in the southern half of the country.
INCA TERN (Larosterna inca) – We had fabulous up-close-and-personal views of many pairs as they snuggled in nooks in the wall outside our hotel at Vina del Mar, with scores of others seen fishing on our pelagics; the birds checking out the various holes and outflow pipes on the big ships in the Vina del Mar harbor were particularly entertaining. This is surely the handsomest of the world's terns!
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) – One standing among the multitudes of South American Terns on a wall at the start of our Valparaiso pelagic was quickly distinguished by its smaller size and very short legs. [b]


We had some stupendous looks at Dolphin Gulls right across the street from our Punta Arenas hotel. Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

SOUTH AMERICAN TERN (Sterna hirundinacea) – Common along the coast from one end of Chile to the other, including a big group swirling over the Straits of Magellan, seen as we waited for the ferry at Primero Angostura, and dozens lining the walls, jetties and boats in the harbor at Vina del Mar.
ELEGANT TERN (Thalasseus elegans) – A big group preened and snoozed on a sand bar in the Tolten River, sharing space with an equally large number of Black Skimmers and Whimbrels.
BLACK SKIMMER (CINERASCENS) (Rynchops niger cinerascens) – A big group shared a sand bar in the Tolten River with the previous species. The subspecies here (cinerascens) is one that migrates north during the austral winter. [a]
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common in cities and towns across the country, in the typical wide range of color morphs. [I]
SPOT-WINGED PIGEON (ALBIPENNIS) (Patagioenas maculosa albipennis) – Dozens around Putre, including one big flock of 30 or so that flew past as we started our journey up to Lauca. Our best views came the following morning though, when we scoped a few sitting on equipment at the military base across from our hotel. This is a recent arrival in Chile from points north.


The Inca Tern must surely rank among the world's handsomest terns. Photo by participant David Lange.

CHILEAN PIGEON (Patagioenas araucana) – Nearly two dozen of these big, dark pigeons perched in some eucalyptus trees near the entrance to Lahuen Nadi, giving us great scope views of their dark maroon plumage, and we had great views of another pair perched above the road at Cerro Nielol. This is the largest of Chile's native pigeons.
PICUI GROUND-DOVE (Columbina picui) – A few scattered birds in the lowlands of central Chile, with our best looks coming at a pair resting on the bottom rung of a fence at Parque La Isla, seen as we headed back to the bus.
CROAKING GROUND-DOVE (Columbina cruziana) – Common in the lowlands around Arica and the nearby oases valleys, including a few sitting on the wire fences along the road where we birded in the Lluta valley on our way to Putre; their hooked, pink-based beaks are distinctive.
BARE-FACED GROUND-DOVE (Metriopelia ceciliae) – A few of these spotty little doves lurked among the multitudes of Black-winged Ground-Doves in the canyon near our Putre hotel on the day we headed back to Arica. With some patience, we all got nice scope views of one or more of a trio preening on some boulders along the cliff.
BLACK-WINGED GROUND-DOVE (Metriopelia melanoptera) – The most common of the tour's ground-doves, including a flock of more than 100 sprinkled on the trees and cliff edges of the canyon near our Putre hotel. A few confiding pairs near the ruins tucked into a huge boulder on Farellones gave us our best closeup views.


We found several small groups of Black-winged Ground-Doves, typically at higher elevations. Photo by participant Charlotte Byers.

WEST PERUVIAN DOVE (Zenaida meloda) – Reasonably common in the lowlands of the far north; we had particularly nice views of one in a willow tree along the road we birded in the Lluta valley on our way up to Putre. This species is rapidly spreading south along the coast.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata) – Abundant throughout, often zipping across roads or perched on roadside wires -- though never in very big numbers.
Strigidae (Owls)
GREAT HORNED OWL (MAGELLANIC) (Bubo virginianus magellanicus) – One snoozing in a tree along the road up to the town of Farellones peeked out at us for a few minutes before closing its eyes again.
AUSTRAL PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium nana) – An early morning visit to Cerro Nielol in Temuco netted us scope views of this little owl, which demonstrated its tooting prowess -- repeatedly -- from high in several trees around the picnic grove.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
BAND-WINGED NIGHTJAR (Systellura longirostris) – We heard one calling from a distant hillside in the chilly, predawn gloom outside our Putre hotel. Unfortunately, we couldn't entice it closer. [*]


Finding a sleepy Magellanic Great Horned Owl right over the road on Farellones was a treat. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
GREEN-BACKED FIRECROWN (Sephanoides sephaniodes) – Quite common between Puerto Montt and Termas de Chillan, though mostly just seen zipping past, or heard chipping from the surrounding forest. We did have nice views of one fired-up male (showing his namesake fiery red forehead) around the parking lot and picnic area at Lahuen Nadi.
ANDEAN HILLSTAR (Oreotrochilus estella) – Quite common around Putre, including a couple of females on nests over some of the doors into our rooms (always flying off into the darkness if you passed them in the evening), and others feeding on the flowering bushes in the garden. The reddish stripe on the male's chest helps to separate him from the next, rather similar, species.
WHITE-SIDED HILLSTAR (Oreotrochilus leucopleurus) – A male perched on a spiky flower stalk on a Farellones hillside, periodically zooming off in pursuit of another passing hillstar, or fluttering around a flowering shrub.
GIANT HUMMINGBIRD (Patagona gigas peruviana) – One flew past as we birded the canyon edge near our Putre hotel, chipping loudly as it went. Though we could watch it for a while as it coursed back and forth (but steadily away) over the military base, we never really got to see the rufous belly that distinguishes it from the browner-bellied "gigas" subspecies.
GIANT HUMMINGBIRD (Patagona gigas gigas) – Our walk along the track at Quebrada de Cordoba netted us a crazy number of these big hummingbirds -- from just about every feasible angle! We particularly enjoyed the two jousting over the flowering Puya plants, several sitting on nearby dead branches, and (for the ladies taking advantage of the plentiful bushes) one taking a bath by plunge-diving into the little stream near where we found our tapaculos.
CHILEAN WOODSTAR (Eulidia yarrellii) – Arg! Only a lucky few spotted a male (his curved, "bow legged" tail feathers dangling) as he hovered briefly just above the red-flowered bush outside our lunch restaurant in San Miguel Azapa -- until he was chased off by one of the bullying Oasis Hummingbirds.
OASIS HUMMINGBIRD (Rhodopis vesper) – Great looks at both males and females at a red-flowered tree outside our lunchtime restaurant in San Miguel Azapa. These were the largest-bodied and longest-billed of the hummingbirds we saw in the desert valleys near Arica.
PERUVIAN SHEARTAIL (Thaumastura cora) – Wow! Great looks at several of these long-tailed hummingbirds, including a gang of four males jousting over a flowering tree near our lunchtime restaurant in San Miguel Azapa.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
STRIPED WOODPECKER (Veniliornis lignarius) – A little female flicked through some trees above our heads in the field where we found our Austral Parakeets (between Termas de Chillan and Chillan) investigating a series of branches and twigs -- nice spotting, David!
CHILEAN FLICKER (Colaptes pitius) – Two perched up in a dead snag near the road in Torres del Paine, seen on our pre-breakfast outing there, proved particularly obliging, giving us all multiple views in the scopes before flying off into the sunny morning.
ANDEAN FLICKER (Colaptes rupicola) – At least five at one of our stops along the road to Lauca: two feeding on a patch of tawny-colored ground, and a trio perched on round boulders just up the hill from where we stood. The bills on these birds are impressively long!
MAGELLANIC WOODPECKER (Campephilus magellanicus) – A noisy female flashed through the lichen-draped trees at Lahuen Nadi, showing in fits and starts as she hitched her way up several trunks. Fortunately (for those who never quite got on that one), some excellent spotting by Bill P. netted us a very cooperative pair investigating potential nest holes near our hotel in Termas de Chillan. Suzi found another female on the day that she stayed back while we went to Farellones.


A post-lunch check of some flowering trees netted us four male Peruvian Sheartails jousting among the blossoms. Photo by participant Henry Feilen.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MOUNTAIN CARACARA (Phalcoboenus megalopterus) – Particularly common on Farellones, including several coursing back and forth past the windows of our lunch restaurant, and couple of pairs chasing each passing Andean Condor as a group of the latter came in to land on a cliff towards the end of the day. Their strongly marked black and white underwings are distinctive.
WHITE-THROATED CARACARA (Phalcoboenus albogularis) – Arg! We spotted one flying over the road into Torres del Paine, but it quickly turned tail and disappeared over a nearby ridge once we'd spotted it. We found an even more distant bird the next day, but it too soon glided out of view behind another ridge.
SOUTHERN CARACARA (Caracara plancus) – Particularly abundant in the far south, with fields full of them in several places along Ruta Pampa Larga and one feasting on a dead lamb along the road up to Torres del Paine. This species was split from the former Crested Caracara complex.
CHIMANGO CARACARA (Milvago chimango) – Abundant from Santiago south to Puerto Montt (with a few around Punta Arenas as well), sitting on telephone poles along the highways, chasing larger raptors, patrolling roadside fields in search of prey, or flapping over fields and forests. This species is notably smaller than the previous one.


Mountain Caracaras were plentiful, including several pairs that chased every Andean Condor that came in to roost on a cliff on Farellones. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius) – Scattered birds, including a determined pair relentlessly pursuing a trio of Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles that must have strayed too close to their nest on Farellones.
APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis) – One circled high overhead at Farellones, the white trailing edge of its wing very obvious against the blue, blue sky. Compared to the more common American Kestrel, this species has a longer tail relative to its body size.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Two chasing an Andean Condor in the skies above Shangrila were a tad optimistic -- though they did force it to land on a cliff.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
AUSTRAL PARAKEET (Enicognathus ferrugineus) – Surprisingly, this one -- normally the more common of the Enicognathus species -- took some considerable work! After MUCH searching, we finally connected with a big flock en route to the Concepcion airport, and had nice scope studies of several as they preened in the early morning sun. Talk about an 11th hour save!
SLENDER-BILLED PARAKEET (Enicognathus leptorhynchus) – A pair of these Chilean endemics in a treetop along the highway between Puerto Varas and Temuco let us study their distinctively long beaks in the scopes, and we had nice views of another perched atop a tree at Cerro Nielol. Their extra long beak allows them to extract the nuts from Araucaria cones. [E]


The only way we could have gotten closer to this Moustached Turca is if it had actually landed on someone -- and it came mighty close to doing so! Photo by participant Henry Feilen.

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
CHESTNUT-THROATED HUET-HUET (Pteroptochos castaneus) – After catching brief glimpses a one or more scuttling back and forth across a trail near Termas de Chillan (possibly heading for a nest, since they kept crossing in the same area), we had a stupendous encounter with a singing bird near the ski resort. Some great spotting by Charlotte got us our first views, and with time (and patience) we got progressively better looks as it worked its way along the hillside.
BLACK-THROATED HUET-HUET (Pteroptochos tarnii) – Our first was a bird briefly seen by some as it worked its way quickly along a stream edge at Lahuen Nadi. Some in the group spotted another when it perched in a succession of trees near the picnic grove at Cerro Nielol (where its habit of regularly flicking its tail gave its location away), and others saw one scuttle across a path (and stand on a mossy rock) further up the hill in the same park.
MOUSTACHED TURCA (Pteroptochos megapodius) – Wow, wow, wow! We thought our first views (of one singing from a hillside en route to the reservoir at Yeso) were pretty great, and we saw (and heard) a few others there and at Farellones. Then we happened upon a nesting pair at an overlook spot near the entrance to Yerba Loca, and had the close encounter of a lifetime with a nesting pair -- including one that paraded across the lot in front of us (with a bulging mouthful of bugs), hopped up onto a fence railing, and strutted down the length of it, within arm's reach of just about everybody! [E]
WHITE-THROATED TAPACULO (Scelorchilus albicollis) – One scuttled across the track at Quebrada de Cordoba while we were looking at some yellow-finches, then made a couple of additional brief appearances before disappearing off up the slope. We spotted it (or another) later, just across the stream, when it scurried off down the path after having a drink. [E]
CHUCAO TAPACULO (Scelorchilus rubecula) – A fabulous encounter with a bird we found along the little river in that beautiful forest near our Termas de Chillan hotel. It sat right out in the open on a branch a couple of feet above the steep bank for long minutes, singing its heart out. We had briefer views of others scuttling around under the boardwalk at Lahuen Nadi.
OCHRE-FLANKED TAPACULO (Eugralla paradoxa) – We had at least three close birds along the fence line at Tres Cruces -- so close we could have almost reached out and touched them. If only they hadn't been wearing their invisibility cloaks! [*]
MAGELLANIC TAPACULO (Scytalopus magellanicus) – A most cooperative tapaculo! A singing bird in Lahuen Nadi responded IMMEDIATELY when Willy played some tape. It popped up on a mossy stump right in front of us, then flicked back and forth through nearby mossy branches. At one point -- as we were preparing to move off down the trail -- it popped out of the brush pile about 12 inches from Willy's foot! Great views all around... We heard others calling from the forest at Cerro Nielol.
DUSKY TAPACULO (Scytalopus fuscus) – Spectacular views of one beside the stream at Quebrada de Cordoba; it sat right in the open on a dead branch, singing lustily. If only all tapaculos were so obliging! [E]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
COMMON MINER (PATAGONIAN) (Geositta cunicularia cunicularia) – Quite common on Isla Grande, though we really didn't get much of a look at them as they darted back and forth across the road in front of us at Laguna Verde. A few around the King Penguin colony -- and some along the Ruta Pampa Larga the following day -- were more cooperative.
PUNA MINER (Geositta punensis) – A single bird sat atop a bush along the road up to Lauca NP -- a fine example of Willy's local knowledge; he knew exactly where to stop!


White-throated Treerunners reminded us all of nuthatches. Photo by participant Craig Caldwell.

RUFOUS-BANDED MINER (Geositta rufipennis fasciata) – A few along the edge of the Yeso reservoir showed their distinctive tails nicely (and serenaded us as well), as did another striding around in the same pasture as our siskin flock on the way back down to Santiago. We saw others on Farellones.
SHORT-BILLED MINER (Geositta antarctica) – Two trotted around among the cow pats in a field near where we'd stopped for our look at the Coscoroba Swans on Isla Grande. Their all brown wings (nicely captured in a photo by Bill B.) and short, straight beaks helped to identify them.
WHITE-THROATED TREERUNNER (Pygarrhichas albogularis) – Most common around Termas de Chillan (including some investigating the trees right around our hotel), with others at Cerro Nielol. It's amazing how much like nuthatches these completely unrelated birds are!
BAND-TAILED EARTHCREEPER (Ochetorhynchus phoenicurus) – One along the Ruta Pampa Larga showed its distinctive tail pattern very well as it circled around us, singing from a succession of bushes.
CRAG CHILIA (Ochetorhynchus melanurus) – Finding a nest right along the road to Yeso was a stroke of luck. We parked across the road, and watched both parents bring a host of bugs to noisy (out of sight) youngsters in a nest tucked in a very skinny crack in a rock. [E]


A showy Wren-like Rushbird was a consolation prize for missing the South American Painted-Snipe. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

WREN-LIKE RUSHBIRD (Phleocryptes melanops) – A showy bird among the rushes at Lampa was a nice consolation prize for our miss of the painted-snipes.
PATAGONIAN FOREST EARTHCREEPER (Upucerthia saturatior) – A couple of birds near the Termas de Chillan ski resort performed very nicely, bouncing across the gravel or sitting in low branches of trees near the snowy slopes. One of them even sang a few times -- though his song was a bit overwhelmed by the shrieks of laughter from the tour bus full of people trying to negotiate the slippery slopes.
SCALE-THROATED EARTHCREEPER (Upucerthia dumetaria) – One along the Ruta Pampa Larga, in the same area we found our Austral Canastero, was very obliging, sitting for long minutes at the top of a series of little bushes -- often with its distinctively spotty throat facing in our direction. We had others in the mountains of central Chile, both in the Yeso Valley and at Farellones.
WHITE-THROATED EARTHCREEPER (Upucerthia albigula) – One hunting along the edge of the canyon down the road from our Putre hotel flitted from boulder to bush to rocky ledge, occasionally creeping to within yards of our boot tips.
BUFF-BREASTED EARTHCREEPER (Upucerthia validirostris) – Two bounced along a rocky hillside in Lauca NP.
BUFF-WINGED CINCLODES (Cinclodes fuscus) – This, the more widespread of the former "Bar-winged Cinclodes" subspecies, was seen on scattered days throughout much of the tour -- particularly in the far south. We found one nesting in a concrete drainage pipe at the Humedal Los Tres Puentes on the very first afternoon of the tour, with others around Laguna Verde, some on the ski slope at Termas de Chillan, a few mooching along the lakeshore in the Yeso valley and others on Farellones. [N]


A Cream-winged Cinclodes shows off its snazzy wings. Photo by participant Henry Feilen.

CREAM-WINGED CINCLODES (Cinclodes albiventris albiventris) – And this is the more range-restricted former subspecies of the "Bar-winged Cinclodes", found on our tour only in the heights of Chile's far north -- including one right in the garden of our Putre hotel!
GRAY-FLANKED CINCLODES (Cinclodes oustaleti) – A quartet strode around on the verdant edges of a little rivulet in Farellones, showing nicely their streaky dark breasts -- and conveniently close to a nearby Buff-winged Cinclodes for easy comparison.
WHITE-WINGED CINCLODES (Cinclodes atacamensis) – Two foraging in the bofedale near Lauca NP's ranger station were incredibly cooperative, rummaging through the area's nooks and crannies (sometimes sharing boulders with snoozing viscachas) and completely ignoring us.
DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES (Cinclodes patagonicus) – Our first was a wing-waving bird singing from a light fixture near our Puerto Varas hotel. We had others on our early morning at Cerro Nielol (including one rummaging around near the children's play area) and another on a building near the little marshy area we visited near Puente San Geronimo in Algarrobo.
SEASIDE CINCLODES (Cinclodes nigrofumosus) – One near our Vina del Mar hotel blended very well with the dark rocks and seaweed along the shore. It was a lot easier to see when it flew up to the roof of the hotel (still below our perch in the parking lot) for a look around. This is the largest of the tour's cinclodes. [E]


An Austral Canastero gave us a fine serenade in the southern plains. Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

THORN-TAILED RAYADITO (Aphrastura spinicauda) – Seen on most days in central Chile, including a pair swirling low through the trees around us along the road at Torres del Paine (the same place that we found our first Chilean Flickers), one consorting with some White-throated Treerunners near our hotel in Termas de Chillan and a few in the bushes at Quebrada de Cordova, seen while we searched for our first Dusky Tapaculo.
DES MURS'S WIRETAIL (Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii) – As usual, these skulkers played hard to get -- heard-only in Lahuen Nadi, eluding most of us at Cerro Nielol, and providing only the briefest of glimpses as they flashed back and forth across a path at Las Trancas de Chillan. Then, however, we found a supremely confiding bird at Quebrada de Cordova; it wriggled through some bushes right beside the road, peering out as us, and looking rather like a small brown comet as if flitted back and forth across the road trailing that amazing tail behind it.
PLAIN-MANTLED TIT-SPINETAIL (AEGITHALOIDES) (Leptasthenura aegithaloides aegithaloides) – One right near our Striped Woodpecker, in a field between Termas de Chillan and Chillan on our transfer day. It started in one of the big, old trees, then dropped to a small bush right in front of us, where it sat right out on top -- flashing that rufous wing, and showing nicely its stripey neck and plain back.
PLAIN-MANTLED TIT-SPINETAIL (PALLIDA) (Leptasthenura aegithaloides pallida) – One of this very pale subspecies danced around us during our picnic lunch at Laguna Verde (on Isla Grande), perching in a succession of bush tops and singing challenges to all and sundry. Its pale, unstreaked back was nicely obvious.
CREAMY-BREASTED CANASTERO (DARK-WINGED) (Asthenes dorbignyi arequipae) – Small numbers around Putre, including a pair flicking along the far side of a gully along the old road up to Lauca NP and a busy duo in the garden of our hotel.
AUSTRAL CANASTERO (Asthenes anthoides) – One singing along the Ruta Pampa Larga proved wonderfully cooperative, sitting up for long minutes atop various bushes. Unlike Chile's other canasteros, this one is heavily streaked on the crown and mantle -- and rather short-tailed.
CORDILLERAN CANASTERO (Asthenes modesta) – We found one on our day in Sierra Baguales, singing from bushes right along the edge of the road; from our vantage point on a little cliff across the way, he was pretty easy to spot! Unlike the previous species, this one has a completely unstreaked back.
SHARP-BILLED CANASTERO (Asthenes pyrrholeuca) – Several birds seen well at Farellones: one in some stick-like weeds along the main road and the second near the ruined building under the huge rock we stopped at near the end of the day.
CANYON CANASTERO (Asthenes pudibunda) – One danced around us at the edge of the canyon (appropriately) near our Putre hotel, singing from a succession of bush tops and fence posts. Eventually, he tangled with a neighbor or rival, with an apparent female paying rapt attention. This was the one with the rufous tail and wings.
DUSKY-TAILED CANASTERO (Pseudasthenes humicola) – Seen along the dusty back road we travelled on our journey from Santiago to Vina del Mar (though that pair wasn't especially cooperative), but our best views came at Quebrada Cordova, where we found a couple of pairs defending their territories along the scruffy hillsides. This is the longest tailed of the tour's canasteros. [E]
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
YELLOW-BILLED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes flavirostris) – One bounced along the hedge beside our Putre hotel, showing its distinctive yellow bill nicely as it posed on a succession of bushes. Unlike the next species, this one has a dark eye.
TUFTED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes parulus) – Regular in the central part of Chile. Our first were a pair twitching through trees near the start of the path at Lahuen Nadi, but our best views probably came the following day along the Tolten River, when one danced through a bush right beside us. We had another cooperative bird at Farellones, with more at Cuesta Lo Prado and along the Quebrada de Cordova.


The gang checks out a close Gray-breasted Seedsnipe in the Yeso valley. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA (CHILEAN) (Elaenia albiceps chilensis) – Widespread and common, this subspecies was found on most days of the tour, missing only from the deepest south and the farthest north of the country; it's one of the most common breeding forest bird in Chile. This is the subspecies with the whiter wing bars and wing edges.
WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA (PERUVIAN) (Elaenia albiceps modesta) – This largely Peruvian subspecies was seen only in the lowlands of the far north, along the river valleys. Our best looks came in the Chaca valley, where a couple of calling birds came in to check out the "owl mob" -- in reality, Willy's owl tape and a lot of pishing! The bird in the brush pile showed its white crown patch nicely as it craned around trying to locate the problem. This subspecies has buffy wingbars and wing edges.
MANY-COLORED RUSH TYRANT (Tachuris rubrigastra) – A gorgeous male flicked through the grassy edge of the Tolten river, moving closer and closer along the back edge of a little pasture. Unfortunately, he was small enough -- and furtive enough -- that some of the group never spotted him. Fortunately, we got another chance at Lampa, when an inquisitive pair peered out of the reeds as we searched for painted-snipes.
BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (RUFESCENT) (Myiophobus fasciatus rufescens) – Two flycatching low along the edge of the road in the Lluta valley were a nice surprise during our brief stop en route to Putre; it's the first time Willy has found them in that valley! They posed nicely for photos and scope views, though always in the shade.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – A few scattered birds -- mostly in pairs -- around Sobraya and in the Chaca valley, seen as we searched for hummingbirds. This species just edges into the northern reaches of Chile.


Participant Henry Feilen captured this nice portrait of a White-crested Elaenia.

AUSTRAL NEGRITO (Lessonia rufa) – Very, very common in Patagonia, where they hunted from the ground, fence posts, small bushes, highway markers and more. The rufous-backed black males are locally called "colegials" -- the Spanish word for "schoolboy" -- as they're said to resemble uniformed children carrying leather backpacks.
SPECTACLED TYRANT (Hymenops perspicillatus) – A male at the reedy lake near the (second) entrance to Torres del Paine NP flashed his distinctive wings as he flew back and forth along the far side of the water. Talk about eye-catching; between those wings and his bold whitish eye ring, he was hard to miss.
SPOT-BILLED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola maculirostris) – Our first bounced along the edge of the Yeso reservoir, one of a plethora of new species seen at the same time -- meaning that some folks didn't get a look at it before it moved out of view. Fortunately, we found another one along the road on Farellones the following day.
PUNA GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola juninensis) – Abundant in Lauca NP, trotting over the boggy grasslands and standing tall on little boulders. This is the plainest of the ground-tyrants we saw.
WHITE-FRONTED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola albifrons) – A couple of these larger ground-tyrants distracted some of us from views of our Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes. They pattered around the far side of one of the bofedales along the road up to Lauca NP. [E]


The male Austral Negrito has the local name of "colegial" (meaning schoolboy), because its rufous back supposedly looks like a student's backpack. Photo by participant Charlotte Byers.

RUFOUS-NAPED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola rufivertex) – One hunting from fence posts around a pasture on the edge of Putre proved frustratingly tough to spot from our seats in the bus (with nowhere to get out along the narrow road). Fortunately, we found another right in the garden of our Putre hotel the next morning -- and it showed its discrete nape patch much better than that first one had!
WHITE-BROWED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola albilora) – Regular in the Yeso and Maipo valleys, including a few scurrying around in the pasture where we found all of our siskins. Our first was actually at the ski resort at Las Trancas.
CINNAMON-BELLIED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola capistratus) – Great studies of a busy pair of adults hunting on the shores of Laguna Verde, not far from our Magellanic Plover. We found others -- including a much plainer youngster -- patrolling the kelp line near the ferry dock at Cruce Bahia Azul.
BLACK-FRONTED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola frontalis) – A youngster trotted around the skeletal remains of a wooden shelter near the Yeso reservoir; it took us a while to puzzle it out, since it was lacking most of the darker forehead of an adult.
BLACK-BILLED SHRIKE-TYRANT (Agriornis montanus) – One hunted from several of the poles and wires around our Putre hotel as we gathered before heading to the canyon, its white undertail flashing in the early morning light. Charlotte had already spotted (and photographed!) it on the day she stayed back.


The little town of Putre is our base for a 2-day foray into the high Andes. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

FIRE-EYED DIUCON (Xolmis pyrope) – Two on the grounds of our hotel at Torres del Paine gave us great early morning views as they perched in the dead tree right over our heads, and they proved common throughout much of central Chile. They have distinctively blocky heads -- and, of course, the ruby-red eyes that give them their name.
CHOCOLATE-VENTED TYRANT (Neoxolmis rufiventris) – We spotted one of these colorful flycatchers along the Ruta Pampa Larga; it went from the ground to a fence post for a bit, then dropped to the ground again before popping up on another fence post further down the road. For those of us who'd birded in Europe and Africa, it reminded us a bit of a rock-thrush.
PATAGONIAN TYRANT (Colorhamphus parvirostris) – One in the understory at Lahuen Nadi sat at eye level for long enough for everyone to get a look.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
RUFOUS-TAILED PLANTCUTTER (Phytotoma rara) – Seen on several days in the south, with our best views coming in the garden of a house next door to our hotel in Puerto Varas; the male and female perched right next to each other in a flowering bush, giving us a super opportunity to study them in the scopes. We also had some nice encounters in central Chile, including a male that perched again and again in some bushes right outside the restaurant windows in Santa Domingo.


Finding a pair of Magellanic Woodpeckers (this is the female) was a highlight of one afternoon's walk in Termas de Chillan. Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (PERUVIANA) (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca peruviana) – This is the northern replacement for the next subspecies, found only from Arica north -- and up into the highlands east of there. The birds zooming back and forth over the gully where we watched our Tamarugo Conebills allowed especially close views.
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (PATAGONICA) (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca patagonica) – Very common throughout much of Chile (except for the far north), particularly quartering back and forth along shorelines. This dark-backed swallow lacks the white rump of the otherwise similarly-plumaged Chilean Swallow.
ANDEAN SWALLOW (Orochelidon andecola) – A few seen over a pasture just outside Putre (the same place where we spotted our first Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant) as we descended from Lauca NP.
CHILEAN SWALLOW (Tachycineta meyeni) – Widespread and abundant throughout most of the tour, often in mixed flocks with Blue-and-white Swallows. Their white rumps make them easy to pick out in a crowd.
BARN SWALLOW (AMERICAN) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) – A few (including some looking decidedly pale-breasted) scattered among the big swallow flocks we encountered.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon tecellatus) – The more northerly of Chile's two House Wren subspecies, found only from Arica up into the highlands (and north into coastal Peru); we had a handful, including one singing in the little pasture where we birded our first afternoon in the Lluta valley, and others in Lauca NP.
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon chilensis) – By far the more widespread of Chile's House Wren subspecies, seen (and heard) most days of the tour.
SEDGE WREN (AUSTRAL) (Cistothorus platensis hornensis) – Especially nice studies of a couple singing their lungs out in the reedy swamp near the second entrance to Torres del Paine. We saw others at the King Penguin colony, and in the courtyard of our Puerto Natales hotel. This southern subspecies is sometimes called "Grass Wren".
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
AUSTRAL THRUSH (Turdus falcklandii) – Regular throughout most of the tour, with numbers seen well. The fight between two males with a female in watchful attendance on a street corner in Santiago -- narrated by Willy in his best play-by-play announcer mode -- was particularly entertaining.
CHIGUANCO THRUSH (CHIGUANCO) (Turdus chiguanco chiguanco) – A male singing from a concrete wall near our Putre hotel allowed nice scope views.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
CHILEAN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus thenca) – Common in central Chile, with especially nice views of one trotting around the gas station (and sitting at the top of a tree beside the restrooms) at a roadside rest area along Highway 5. We found them from sea level (singing at Isla de la Parque while we gaped at all the Franklin's Gulls) right up into the heights of the Yeso reservoir and Farellones. [E]
PATAGONIAN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus patagonicus) – A few pairs along the Ruta Pampa Larga showed well, sitting up on bush tops, preening and (in at least one case) singing. It looks quite like North America's Northern Mockingbird, though with far less white on the wings and tail -- only the very tip of the tail showed white when the birds flew from perch to perch. This is another species that is restricted to Patagonia.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
CORRENDERA PIPIT (Anthus correndera) – Regular in the far south, particularly in the pastures along Ruta Larga Pampa, with others trotting through the short grasses at Lampa. This is the only common pipit in Chile.


Gray-hooded Sierra-Finches were common in central Chile. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
CINEREOUS CONEBILL (Conirostrum cinereum) – One foraging in a tree right near where we stood in the Lluta valley was cooperative, allowing repeated good looks as it move through the branches. Its habit of regularly twitching its wings made its progress through the branches easy to follow.
TAMARUGO CONEBILL (Conirostrum tamarugense) – Don't you love it when a plan comes together? We found a pair (with a youngster in tow) less than 5 minutes after climbing off the bus at Willy's "secret spot". This range-restricted species is considered vulnerable due to its limited range and small population.
BLACK-THROATED FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa brunneiventris) – An adult in the scruffy bushes along the canyon rim down the street from our Putre hotel sat quietly long enough for everybody to get a close binocular view -- and for a few to see its distinctively hook-tipped bill in the scope. What a handsome little bird!
BLACK-HOODED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus atriceps) – A couple, looking orangey, perched up in a little bush along the old road to Lauca NP (not far from Putre), distracting us briefly from our search for tinamous. We saw others -- closer and better -- near our hotel in Putre itself.
GRAY-HOODED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus gayi) – Very common in the south (including some singing right in the gardens of our hotel in Torres del Paine), with others along the little stream at Quebrada de Cordova, and in the highlands east of Santiago.
PATAGONIAN SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus patagonicus) – A male on the muddy hillside above the ski resort at Termas de Chillan, nicely spotted by Bill P., was followed by another (even brighter) male singing from a tree right at the edge of the steeper cliffs. We had others at Cuesta Lo Prado, and in the eucalyptus grove along Quebrada de Cordova. The rust-orange back and gray head of the male is distinctive.
MOURNING SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus fruticeti) – Fine views of some in the highlands of the central and northern parts of the country -- including a few at our hillstar spot on Farellones, and several males seen well on our last morning in Putre.
PLUMBEOUS SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus unicolor) – Seen on scattered days throughout the tour, mostly single birds, and sometimes seen by less than the whole group -- until our drive along the old road up to Lauca NP, when we found them EVERYWHERE.
ASH-BREASTED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus plebejus) – Abundant on the hillsides above Putre, with many seen well along the old road to Lauca as we worked our way higher. This is among the smallest of the sierra-finches.
BAND-TAILED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus alaudinus) – One singing from telephone wires along the road to Farellones was cooperative, showing his white-banded tail nicely as he moved from perch to perch.
WHITE-WINGED DIUCA-FINCH (Diuca speculifera) – Several pairs seen on our day in Lauca: one near our Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes, another near the little bridge beyond the viscachas, and more along the road.
COMMON DIUCA-FINCH (Diuca diuca) – Our first were a pair striding around in the parking lot of a roadside rest stop along the Pan American highway (and perching on a nearby fence). We got even better views of others around the ski station above Thermes de Chillan -- including some singing their heads off from waist-high pine trees beside the buildings.
WHITE-BRIDLED FINCH (Melanodera melanodera) – A male along the Ruta Pampa Larga put on a great show as it flashed along the fence line. Those bright yellow wings (and body) give it its alternate common name -- Canary-winged Finch.


It took a lot of persistence, but our reward was several fine views of Yellow-bridled Finches. Photo by participant David Lange.

YELLOW-BRIDLED FINCH (Melanodera xanthogramma) – This was a great example of persistence paying off; it took a while (and a drive waaaaay up the Sierra Baguales valley), but we finally connected with an aberrantly yellow-chinned female bathing in a puddle along the road. Then, once the jinx had been lifted, we found a male feeding on the red flowers of one of the blooming "pincushion" plants, followed by a pair feeding right beside the bus near where we stopped to get through one of the gates. This is a rare species in Chile.
SLENDER-BILLED FINCH (Xenospingus concolor) – Our first, in the Lluta valley, proved a bit of a pain, moving from hidden perch to hidden perch and only ever briefly popping out into the open. Fortunately, a pair that came in to check out the "pygmy-owl" (in reality, Willy's tape) near our Tamarugo Conebill spot were far more inquisitive, giving us some nice views of that distinctively slim, bright yellow bill.
GREATER YELLOW-FINCH (Sicalis auriventris) – Nice studies of a few trundling around in a pasture along the road down from the Yeso reservoir, with others on Farellones. As its name suggests, this is the largest of the yellow-finches we saw on the tour.
GREENISH YELLOW-FINCH (Sicalis olivascens) – A male sitting on the peak of our Putre hotel's roof on our final morning's birding there showed nicely in the morning sunshine; his female, on a neighboring roof, was more retiring. The uniformly greenish face helps to separate it from the Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, which can also occur around the hotel.
PATAGONIAN YELLOW-FINCH (Sicalis lebruni) – Very nice views of a close pair bouncing along the sandy cliff at the edge of Laguna Verde (on Isla Grande), investigating a few of the burrows. The female was quite plain, but the male showed some very bright yellow patches -- on his face and belly in particular. As its name suggests, this species is restricted to Patagonia, in the lowlands.


A White-bridled Finch flashed along the edge of the Ruta Pampa Larga. Photo by guide Willy Perez.

GRASSLAND YELLOW-FINCH (GRASSLAND) (Sicalis luteola luteiventris) – Our first were in a flock along the highway, seen when we stopped for a look at some Slender-billed Parakeets; we found others in a weedy field behind a roadside rest area further up the same highway the following day. They were regular in scruffy lowland areas around Cuesta Lo Prado and Quebrada de Cordova and around the wetlands at Lampa.
CHESTNUT-THROATED SEEDEATER (Sporophila telasco) – Regular in the oasis valleys of the far north, including one singing from a telephone wire in the Lluta valley on our first afternoon there. The chestnut throat can be a bit tough to see.
BAND-TAILED SEEDEATER (Catamenia analis) – Charlotte found (and photographed!) one of these on a wire just outside of the hotel garden at Putre on the day she stayed back.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – Our constant companion, from the farthest south to the farthest north -- including a couple hopping around in the restaurant of our Arica hotel. It was interesting to note the subtle changes in their songs from one end of the country to the other.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
PERUVIAN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella bellicosa) – A few loud males near the Lluta river mouth on our last morning -- flashing their bright red breasts and singing challenges from bush tops.
LONG-TAILED MEADOWLARK (Sturnella loyca) – Common in the lowlands and foothills over much of southern and central Chile.
AUSTRAL BLACKBIRD (Curaeus curaeus) – Especially nice views of a group in some of the big trees at Cerro Nielol, poking through luxuriant growth on some of the branches, and periodically breaking into song. We saw others on scattered days in central Chile.
YELLOW-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelasticus thilius) – Seen in scattered wetlands in central Chile, including dozens and dozens in the rushes and reeds of Lampa.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – Our first view was probably our closest -- an appropriately shiny male sitting on a telephone wire just outside our Puerto Varas hotel, spotted as we returned from our Dark-sided Cinclodes chase. Most of the others we saw were small flocks in fields along the roads we traveled.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
THICK-BILLED SISKIN (Spinus crassirostris) – One in a field along the road down from Yeso was a nice surprise; Willy first spotted it sitting on a big concrete cistern, then it moved to a nearby wire fence, where it sang (and sang and sang).
HOODED SISKIN (Spinus magellanicus bolivianus) – The last species recorded on our morning's outing at Putre, before we headed down to the coast again -- a male and a couple of females sitting up along the hedgerow beside our hotel, nibbling seeds from the vegetation.
BLACK SISKIN (Spinus atratus) – An adult flew past and perched up on a tall mullein-like weed, right at the skyline along the road to Lauca; its bold black and yellow pattern was striking when it flew.
YELLOW-RUMPED SISKIN (Spinus uropygialis) – A little group bounced around a field in the Yeso valley, nibbling on weed seeds. Their black backs helped to separate them from a conveniently close Thick-billed Siskin.
BLACK-CHINNED SISKIN (Spinus barbatus) – Regular in small numbers in the south, with especially nice views of a male perched for long minutes in a shaded pine tree near the parking lot of a roadside rest area on our journey to Thermes de Chillan.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Recorded nearly every day of the tour (often around the hotels), though missing from the highest spots in the far north. [I]


Finding a Big Hairy Armadillo (yes, that's its real name!) scuttling around in the daytime was a surprise; they're normally crepuscular and noctural. Photo by participant Bill Byers.


MAMMALS
BIG HAIRY ARMADILLO (Chaetophractus villosus) – One in a roadside burrow gave us fabulous views on our day along the Ruta Pampa Larga. First it did a bit of excavating, throwing energetic shovelfuls of dirt out with its back feet. Then it poked its hear out and had a look around, made a few feints in our direction, then scuttled up the bank and scurried off in the general direction of "away".
OLD WORLD RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus) – A few scurried across roads and trails in and around Termas de Chillan. These are smaller and shorter-eared than the next species.
EUROPEAN BROWN HARE (Lepus europaeus) – Almost ridiculously common in Torres del Paine and the surrounding highlands, with as many as a half dozen at once chasing each other around in the alpine grasslands. When they sat still and laid their huge, black-tipped ears along their backs, they looked like square, brown rocks -- great camouflage! [I]
NORTHERN MOUNTAIN VISCACHA (Lagidium peruanum) – Great views of these sleepy-looking rodents -- which look sort of like a cross between a wallaby and a squirrel -- near the ranger's station at Lauca. They grazed on the verdant growth of the bofedale, and scampered through the nearby boulders.


We saw packs of Southern Sea Lions (known in Spanish as "sea wolves") hunting during our Arica pelagic, plus found more than a few hauled out and snoozing near shore. Photo by participant Bill Byers.

NUTRIA (Myocastor coypus) – One paddled across the lake at Humedal de Cartajena, then disappeared below the slimy green mat growing on the water's surface.
SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN (Delphinus delphis) – A huge spread-out group of these dolphins chased fish around our boat on the Arica pelagic, appearing mostly as quick rooster tails of spray when they surfaced.
DUSKY DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) – The first dolphins we saw on our shorter crossing of the Straits of Magellan (while the vehicles were loading) were these larger, more uniform animals, feeding around a big kelp bed near shore.
COMMERSON'S DOLPHIN (Cephalorhynchus commersonii) – And these were the much smaller, black-and-white dolphins we saw leaping energetically along beside the ferry as we crossed the Straits of Magellan on our way back to the mainland.
SOUTHERN GRAY FOX (Pseudalopex griseus)


Guanacos were abundant in the south. You can tell they're camel relatives just by looking at them! Photo by participant Bill Parkin.

PATAGONIAN HOG-NOSED SKUNK (Conepatus humboldti) – One, showing its distinctive brown back nicely, nosed around in a wet field along the Ruta Pampa Larga, its whitish tail spread in a huge plume behind it. Initially, it proved a bit of a challenge to see, but eventually, it climbed up a ridge near a house across the marsh and paraded along in the open. What attractive markings it had!
SOUTHERN SEA LION (Otaria byronia) – One kept a watchful eye on us, repeatedly diving and resurfacing as we chugged past on our longer ferry crossing.
GUANACO (Lama guanicoe) – Very, very common in the south, often sharing pastures with the omnipresent sheep. We had especially nice views of a giant herd grazing and snoozing along the edges of the road near the entrance to Torres del Paine NP. Unfortunately, they didn't attract any Cougars this year!
LLAMA (Lama glama) – A few sprinkled among the many Alpacas in and around Lauca NP. This is a domesticated species, possibly descended from the Vicuna.
ALPACA (Lama pacos) – Scores -- hundreds even -- across the high plains of Lauca NP. Like the previous species, this one is domesticated; it may descend from the Guanaco.
VICUNA (Vicugna vicugna) – Quite common in Lauca NP and surroundings, often in the same pastures as Llamas and Alpacas. They didn't seem nearly as skittish as the Guanacos.


The fuzzy Northern Mountain Viscacha looks like a cross between a wallaby and a squirrel. Photo by participant David Lange.

Herps
THIN TREE LIZARD (Lagarta esbelta) – One lay of a wooden fence rail in Termas de Chillan, seen as we headed uphill on an afternoon's walk. We saw another near the ski resort at Las Trancas the following morning.
BLACKISH-GREEN LIZARD (Lagartija negro)


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

In answer to a question raised on the tour, the original indigenous peoples in Patagonia were the Tehuelches (originally from the Argentinian pampas) and the Mapuches (originally from the Chilean coast). The former is a loose grouping of several peoples with different languages and slightly different cultures (rather like the various Sioux peoples of North America): the Gününa’küna, Mecharnúek’enk and Aónik’enk.


Totals for the tour: 258 bird taxa and 15 mammal taxa