Birds of Patagonia!

9 01 2012

During our journeys through the steppe, our walks along the ocean, hikes in the mountains, or time spent on the lakes, we witnessed a lot of birds, and a fair amount of other wildlife. So this post is dedicated to the fauna! Most of these photos are courtesy of Monique Poesiat.

These Chimango Caracaras are everywhere in Patagonia!

Often seen where other colonies of birds lived, and flying low, this caracara could sometimes be approached on a perch within 10 feet of the trail.

Another bird which was our companion from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego was the Black Faced Ibis.

Black Faced Ibis

These Ibis are gregarious, and I saw several raucous colonies! They also fly in groups. They don’t seem to have any trouble surviving in this part of South America!

No narrative of our trip would be complete without the pink birds – Flamingos. We saw them high in the Andes and down on the steppe.

Flamingos seem to congregate wherever there is a brine type of water. But we also saw them in marshes right next to some of the huge glacial lakes down on the steppe, near El Calafate, so I’m not entirely sure what attracts Flamingos to a place.

That doesn’t matter, because they are so beautiful. And, their pink color is always a pretty contrast to the green or brown environment where they forage.

Torrent Duck

On a hike along a steeply sluicing river Nahuel Huapi National Park, we noticed a duck diving in and out of the steepest rapids! It would dive right in, and stay in, only to re-appear somewhere else along the rapid. Or, well, waterfall? This amazing duck is called the Torrent Duck, and it is not a good flier. Rather, it is an Olympic swimmer!

Quite the singer!

Along a glacier, the Rufus Collared Sparrow was declaring his territory, and his call would be answered by others within earshot!

And when a mate is secured, they are busy. This Sparrow, and other birds we’ll cover, were often fanatically working to build nests and raise families!

In the mountains or in sea colonies, all are set about bringing up the next generation. Some of the most industrious were the Cormorants.

Another time, a flash of yellow caught our eye, and it’s the Sierra Finch.

And throughout our time in Patagonia, whether we were out in the steppe, which is flat, or in the mountains, we would witness one of the largest land birds on Planet Earth. And that bird is the Andean Condor.

The Andean Condor

In Patagonia, Condors do not require mountains and steep aeries to fly from. It is so windy, they can often be seen perched on hummocks. They rest, and when the wind picks up, all they need to do is spread their enormous wings to get aloft.

Another bird seen soaring everywhere is not quite as revered, yet its eating routine is not unlike the condor-the lowly turkey vulture.

A common sight was a relative of the woodpecker, a flicker.

They could be seen seeking insects in the hollows of trees or even on the ground sometimes.

More rare was the fire eyed Diucon.

Down in Tierra del Fuego, the busiest birds of all were Arctic Terns and Cormorants.

They build island-colonies solely occupied by their species.

When one arrives by boat, all you see are busy birds flying back and forth with nest building materials!

They are simply fascinating!

The islands where the terns and cormorants nest remind me of WWII aircraft carriers, with “aircraft” constantly coming and going. Noisy and smelly, too.

Another constant companion is the Patagonian Goose. Instead of living in gregarious flocks like Cormorants, Terns, Ibis or other geese, these are almost always seen in pairs.

Back in Buenos Aires, we saw some more warm weather birds.

The gregarious, festidious green parrot could be seen, and heard, whilst foraging or socializing in the parks around the city.

But we saw some other creatures that are notable!

One of a pair of iguanas that scampered across our path...

We also witnessed some iguanas being chased by parent birds defending their nest.

And, down in Tierra del Fuego, there is an invasive species, famaliar to Oregonians. Yes, Beavers were introduced, and they have wreaked havoc on the environment down there.

But, they are interesting, I guess. Like the cormorants, these fellows never stop working overtime!



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