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Birdwatching in Chile

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This long and narrow territory is home to a seemingly endless variety of birds. You can find them in the altiplano, Patagonia, in the forest, on the coasts and atop the Andean peaks. Chile is the perfect place for fans of bird watching, an increasingly popular activity that attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. The 133 wildlife areas protected by Codeff (the National Committee for the Defense of Flora and Fauna) cover 19 percent of the country's surface area and allow for up-close encounters with even the most elusive species.

Observing birds in their natural habitat makes for a truly unique experience. In the northern altiplano, excursions to Putre, Parinacota and Lake Chungará offer views of black-headed Andean gulls, caities, coots and giant taguas, as well as flamingo colonies which color the dreamlike salt flats and lagoons. You can find spectacular flamingo habitats at the Atacama Salt Flat, on the outskirts of San Pedro de Atacama, and at Lake Chungará near Arica.

The country is also home to the Humboldt and Magellan penguins, two endangered species. You can spot them in the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve in the region of Coquimbo, on the coast of Isla Grande de Chiloé and near Punta Arenas.

But perhaps the biggest avian attraction is the legendary Andean condor. You can marvel at its beauty in Torres del Paine (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve), near the San Rafael Glacier, or at Alerce Andino National Park. In fact, Patagonia's beautiful scenery is home to over 120 bird species including ñandúes.

You can spot woodpeckers and the mysterious chucao, whose percussive sound seems to be everywhere at once, in the forests of national parks like Villarrica, Huerquehue, Conguillo, Vicente Pérez Rosales, Puyehue and the Huilo Huilo National Reserve.

You can also go bird watching in Chiloé and in the country's extreme southern region. On Isla Navarino in the Strait of Magellan you can visit Omora Ethno-Botanical Park. Here, the most iconic bird is the large woodpecker, which you can observe making its characteristic nibbles at the dry wood.


Featured Destinations

aSan Pedro de Atacama bArica
cLa Serena and Coquimbo dSantiago
eHighlights of the Central Valley fChiloé
GRobinson Crusoe HPucón, Villarrica and Temuco
IValdivia and Osorno JPuerto Varas and Puerto Montt
KNorthern Patagonia LSouthern Patagonia




Nevado Tres Cruces National Park Red Hummingbirds Bird Books
This is a destination of great beauty and home to a wide range of fauna. The best time to visit is between December and February because of the 8,000 flamingoes that migrate here in the summer. You can also find giant horned coots, Andean geese and gulls. Adventurous travelers can visit Robinson Crusoe Island for a chance to see the Juan Fernández red hummingbird, a native species in danger of extinction (there are currently fewer than 400 left), and take in the beauty of its lovely song in the middle of a native forest. Before enjoying Chile's birds and scenery, it's a good idea to find a quality guide. The two most respected books of this kind are Aves de Chile by Álvaro Jaramillo, the most complete Spanish-language guide to the country's avian population, and Lista comentada de las aves en Chile by Manuel Marín.




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