Chile is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with a physical geography that is surprisingly difficult to describe. A blend of New Zealand´s South Island, California and the world’s driest desert. Some 6,500 kilometres of coastline but never be more than 200 kilometres wide! Despite the country’s strange shape travel is easy with a particularly well developed internal air travel infrastructure served by 3 carriers which keeps prices reasonable. Chile is a stable, modern democracy with a friendly and well educated population and an excellent transport infrastructure.
From the arid deserts in the north, to the glacial waters of the south via its’ cosmopolitan capital, pacific islands and beautiful landscape, birding in Chile can be breath-taking. (Its geography, size & shape does mean however, you are going to have to work to get those ticks!). Sources vary greatly but there are generally accepted to be 530 bird species of which 15 are endemic, including Moustached Turca, Crag Chilia, Slender-billed Parakeet, Chilean Seaside Cinclodes, Dusky-tailed Canastero etc., with another two that are ‘breeding endemics’.
Penguins, albatrosses, pelicans, firecrowns, rayaditos, huet-huets, tapaculos, wiretails, earthcreepers, miners, shrike-tyrants and many other unusual sounding species. Many Coloured Rush Tyrant, three different species of Flamingo and the Burrowing Parrot, a Macaw in size and voice and colour but that can be found in giant flocks.
Using Santiago as a base, several quality, yet varying, sites are twitchable in a day. Over on the coast try the Rio Aconcagua estuary at Con-Con for excellent close up views of the beautiful Many-Coloured Rush Tyrant. In surrounding areas venture up to the Penguin Rock at Cachagua as it also holds good spots as does the Laguna Peral site which is south of Valparaiso and is famed for its Black-Necked Swans.
Travelling in the other direction head on up into the Andes and to El Yeso reservoir to get amongst other great birds, in particular the endemic Crag Chilia, the must-see Diademed Sandpiper Plover and, of course, the magnificent Andean Condor.
To the north is La Campana National Park and Estero Lampa, and to the south lies Rio Clarillo National Park.
Away from the capital you have the high altitude options around Putre and Lauca National Park with its three types of flamingos and the scenic wonder of snow-capped volcanoes. There are various good sites around Concepcion including the massive estuary of the Bio-Bio River. Laguna Torca National Park, Lago Budi and Temuco’s city park all top quality sites. The extreme south of the Country is also good, you will not be disappointed especially if you can get on a pelagic trip.
There isn’t an abundance of birding data available on Chile, which on one hand is a shame, but on the other hand gives you the feeling of being a pioneer in the field of birding.
During your birding here, unless you are in a group, your chances of meeting any other birders is zero, but Chile is a very safe place to go birding and well worth a visit.
Major Source: Fatbirder
Map Source: Googlemaps™