Patagonia is truly one of nature’s greatest secrets. The wilderness region, encompassing both Chile and Argentina, features a never-ending list of hidden gems including glaciers, national parks, glacial lakes and coastal shoreline. However, the standout feature of birdlife.Patagonia for many visitors is the abundance of birdlife. Along the Patagonia Discovery Trek with Aurora Expeditions, explorers get a front row seat to nature in flight. With Patagonia birdlife experts joining you on your trek, our trips put an emphasis on learning about what makes this region special and how these birds interact with the region’s ecosystem. Read on to find out more about Patagonia birdlife and the types of species that you could spot on your Aurora adventure.
Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)
One species of eagle present in the Patagonia region is the Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus). In an interesting twist, nature experts don’t regard Black-Chested Buzzard as true eagles, but only use the term due to their sheer size.
Larger than the Crowned Eagle, this species can reach a wingspan of 200cm and a length of 80cm, a dominating presence in the sky. The Black-Chested Buzzard lives high in the Patagonian wilderness, often spotted along high alpine slopes, rocky uplands and steppes, peering down onto their territory below.
In contrast to the Crowned eagle, this species is blue-gray in colour and features stark black and white markings across its body. As this species rarely vocalises, it might take a lucky spot to see one in the wild.
Andean condor (Vultur Gryphus)
Of course, a trip to Patagonia is not complete without seeing an Andean condor in the wild. This mythic creature holds a special place in South American history and is the national bird of Chile.
Andean condors are among the largest birds in the world, potentially reaching a massive 300cm wingspan and standing at 1.2m tall. This imposing bird can also live up to 50 years in the wild, a long lifespan compared to most bird species.
While the size of the Andean condor will make it easy to spot in the sky, its features also stand out for the keen photographer. Featuring striking black and white feathers, condors have a white fur neck, but no hair on their head. Males have a red crest, allowing simple gender identification along the trek. Condors are also carnivores and scavengers, feeding on everything from seabird eggs, newborn animals and larger mammals.
Lesser Rhea (Pterocnemia pennata)
Found in the open grasslands and steppe of Patagonia, the Lesser Rhea is a flightless bird that is mostly grey and brown in plumage. In contrast, the abdomen and thighs of the Rhea are white.
As a result of a lack of breast bone, the Lesser Rhea can’t fly, but through natural adaptation, the species has large wings that can help it to run fast along the ground. If you look closely, the Lesser Rhea has three toes that are perfectly designed to cover considerable distances.
Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
If you are looking for a bird that stand out in Patagonia, look no further than the Chilean Flamingo. With its bright pink features and striking black beak, there are few animals in the world like it.
Chilean Flamingo inhabit between sea level and 4,500m and live in muddy, shallow lakes with potentially thousands of other flamingos in a flock. As such, you might be lucky enough to discover a flamingo flock on your Aurora Expedition!
Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilus megellanicus)
Magellanic Woodpeckers are found in the temperate forests of both Chile and Argentina. The small, but visually-stunning birds are categorised by their elegant red head with black body.
As the name suggests, Woodpeckers make their presence known in the forest environment with a loud ‘ta-da’ sound that can reach all corners of the area. Often, Magellanic Woodpeckers live in pairs or larger family groups meaning that if you spot one, there might be another one close by!
Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)
With a long black neck and bright white plumage, this swan species found in southern South America certainly stands out from the crowd. The Black-necked Swam can reach at length of 124cm and a weight of 6.7kg.
Found in wetland areas of Patagonia, the swan’s diet is mostly aquatic vegetation which it uses its neck to reach at the bottom of the pond or estuary. However, the swans have also be known to come ashore and feed on plants and insects.