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Birdwatching in Chile - Birdwatching - Chile

Chile, with its wide variety of ecological zones and climates, is a birdwatching hotspot. And how could it not be? On one side, you’ve got the mighty Pacific Ocean, rich feeding ground for sea birds of all sorts. On the other side, you have the majestic Andes Mountains, home to the condor as well as hundreds of other bird species. In between, you’ve got rivers, valleys, rain forests and even a desert.

Most birders with limited travel time head down to Patagonia, Chile’s frigid deep south. Patagonia is home to many fascinating bird species, most notably the ñandu, a large, flightless ostrich-like bird that roams the Patagonian plains. On the coast, there are Magellanic penguins and many sea birds including gulls, albatrosses, herons, egrets, petrels, shearwaters and more. The Patagonian mountains are home to condors, eagles, falcons and more.

Central Chile is home to mountains, valleys and long stretches of virgin coast and is fantastic for birding. Along the coast there are numerous species including plovers, oystercatchers, snipes, ducks, swans, grebes, tyrants, rails and more. Some of the rarer birds sometimes spotted include the endemic Seaside Cinclodes or the Warbling Doradito. A litte further inland is La Campana National Park, only about two hours from Santiago and home to six endemic species including the Moustached Turca, White-throated and Dusky Tapaculos, Dusky-tailed Canastero, Chilean Mockingbird and Chilean Tinamou. Other species include the Striped Woodpecker, Giant Hummingbird and Chilean Pigeon. The nutrient-rich Humboldt current passes by Valparaiso, feeding millions of sea birds: many birders take coastal boat rides to see them.

The lake district is well known for birding. The coveted birds to glimpse include the Magellanic woodpecker and the Andean Condor, but there are dozens more including the Austral Pygmy Owl, White-browed Ground Tyrant and the Black-chested Buzzard Eagle. The Rio Cruces Nature Reserve is home to many terns, gulls, herons and tyrants. Puyehue National Park is home to many species including the Magellanic Woodpecker.

Dry and cool, northern Chile is home to a large percentage of the nation’s endemic birds. Look for the Chilean Woodstar, White-throated Earth-creeper, Slender-billed Finch, and Tamarugo Conebill and more. There are also seabirds, owls, tyrants, plovers, finches, woodpeckers and the famous Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. Birders will want to pack carefully: a true birding tour will go from the sea to the heights of the Andes: in Chile you can go from a sunny, humid coastal forest to a snowy mountain pass in a couple of hours, so dress accordingly.

There are many reputable tour agencies that offer birdwatching or even specialize in it, so look around to find a tour: most birders will want an experienced guide.


Here are other activities in and around Chile that may be of interest: Monumento Nacional de los Cisnes, Laguna Chungará, Seno Otway Penguin Colony, Laguna de Cotacotani and Magdalena Island penguin colony.

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