Best Locations in Chile for Bird Watching Holidays
Chilean bird watching holidays are a thrilling experience for any birder due to its range of climates and extensive list of species.
Chile is ideal for bird watching holidays, with its ever-changing terrain and differing weather conditions. Its 4000-kilometre length exposes it to extreme contrasting climates, ranging from the scorching Atacama Desert to the sub-Antarctic southern islands. This wide range of habitats has resulted in a hugely varied bird population, which will be fascinating for both newer and more experienced birders. From the high altitude specialists to the sub-Antarctic seabirds, Chile promises to fulfil any nature lover's desires with these stunning locations.
Many Chilean bird watching holidays will feature a drive to Putre that takes visitors through the Andes foothills, revealing the various species of sierra finches that are attracted to the vegetation there. It is advisable to stop often and explore each habitat that the drive travels through. It is likely participants will see species such as Mountain Parakeet, Greyish Miner, Andean Tinamou, Black-winged Ground Dove, Andrean Swift and many more. The mountains are home to myriad high altitude avian varieties making it a fascinating area to investigate in detail.
Lauca National Park
Another place that should definitely be on the itinerary for any bird watching holidays in Chile is Lauca National Park. It rests on the Bolivian border and has an elevation of between 3,200 and 6,300 metres. Welcoming lake and high altitude bird species, the park is home to one of the highest lakes in the world, Lake Chungara. For those passionate about sighting water loving species, here you'll find Crested and Andean Ruddy Ducks, Puna Plover, Silvery Grebe, Giant Coot, Andean, Chilean and Puna Flamingos, Puna Teal and many more.
Lake Chungara promises an array of wildlife that will make a wonderful addition to the itinerary of bird watching holidays. After exploring the area around the lake, visitors can head to the bogs and wetter grasslands in search of species such as the Red-backed Sierra-finch, Puna Snipe, White-winged Diuca Finch and the rare Diademed Sandpiper-plover.
The incredible mountain landscape reveals breathtaking views of Chile but is also home to an exciting number of high altitude birds, including the Puna Tinamou, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Torrent Duck, Andean Lapwing, Puna Rhea, Andean Avocet, Andean Gull, Peruvian Martin, Puna Miner, White-winged Cinclodes and Andean Flicker.
Porvenir lies within the Chilean sector of Tierra Del Fuego and hosts an array of birdlife influenced by the sub-Antarctic conditions. On board the ferry to Porvenir is the perfect opportunity for sightings of seabirds such as the Magellanic Penguin and Magellanic Diving-petrel. This is often also an exciting first glance at penguins for amateur birders on their first bird watching holidays.
Once at Porvenir, the Swans Lake Sanctuary is a great place to sight avian species that can survive in a cold and windy terrain. Inhabitants here include the Short-billed Miner, Least Seedsnipe, Two-banded Plover, Magellanic and Blackish Oystercatchers and Correndera Pipits. In rare cases, visitors may even get the chance to see the rare Magellanic Plover.
One of the must-see sub-Antarctic beech forests is in the Parrillar Reserve, where birders can explore the forest terrain in the hopes of sighting the Magellanic Woodpecker. Its large size and surprisingly tame nature makes it easily sighted. The secluded forest pools are also home to the quiet Spectacled Duck. Parrillar has beautiful surrounding countryside, home to many avian species such as the Chilean Swallow, Austral Parakeet, Black-chinned Siskin, Rufous-back Negrito, White-cheeked Pintail and many more exciting varieties.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. If you’re looking for bird watching holidays, Naturetrek specialises in expert-led natural history and wildlife tours worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to polar expeditions and tours to other spectacular regions on Earth.