Bird watchers get your binoculars ready: Patagonia is a hive of bird activity and a whole host of species call this South American region their home. From colorful parakeets to speedy rheas, keep an eye out for these eight beautiful Patagonia birds.
Patagonia birds and where to spot them
Penguin (spheniscus magellanicus and aptenodytes patagonicus)
Four penguin species can be found in Patagonia, although the only ones you’ll see are Magellanic and king penguins, as the colonies of southern rockhopper and macaroni penguins are largely inaccessible to tourists.
Magellanic penguins are only resident in the region during the breeding season, which is September through March. The only king penguin colony in the continent, consisting of around 60 birds, is located in the far south of Patagonia
Where to find penguins in Patagonia:
Important breeding colonies of Magellanic penguins are found at Punta Tombo, Isla Magdalena, Tuckers Islets and Seno Otway. The king penguin colony is located at Bahía Inútil 70-miles (112km) from Porvenir in Chilean Tierra del Fuego.
Chilean flamingo (phoenicopterus chilensis)
Although commonly believed to prefer warmer climes, one species of flamingos call the lagoons of Patagonia home: the Chilean flamingo. This species lives in large flocks and is identifiable by its gray legs with pink knees and its bill that is mostly black.
Where to find flamingos in Patagonia:
Chilean flamingos are resident in lagoons across Argentine Patagonia and in the far south of Chilean Patagonia, including in Torres del Paine National Park and Tierra del Fuego.
Andean condor (vultur gryphus)
The national bird for six South American nations (including Argentina and Chile), the Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world, thanks to its huge 10-ft. 10-in (3.3 m) wingspan.
Where to find Andean condors:
They live in grasslands and rocky, mountainous areas up to 16,000-ft. (5,000m) above sea level and it’s not unusual to see them in the skies above Torres del Paine National park.
Darwin’s rhea (rhea pennata)
Also known as the lesser rhea, Darwin’s rhea is a species of flightless bird native to the plains of Patagonia and other grassland areas. They live in small groups of up to 30 birds and one of their main forms of protection from predators is speed; they’re capable of running up to 30mph (60km/h).
Where to find Darwin’s rheas in Patagonia:
They inhabit areas of grassland in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia as well as the altiplano in the far north of Chile.
Upland goose (chloephaga picta)
The males and females of the upland or Magellan goose are easily distinguishable: males have white chests with grey wings while females are brown with black striped wings. It’s common to see upland geese in large flocks of various different geese species.
Where to find upland geese:
They live in temperate grasslands at low altitudes, with a large population residing in Tierra del Fuego.
Magellanic woodpecker (campephilus magellanicus)
With the males sporting a crimson colored head and black body, the Magellanic woodpecker is a splendid sight in the woodlands of Patagonia. Here, they can be seen – and heard – boring into trees in the hunt for grubs and insects.
Where to find Magellanic woodpeckers:
They primarily inhabit areas of nothofagus or southern beech forests.
Austral parakeet (enicognathus ferrugineus)
The southernmost parakeet in the world, the austral or emerald parakeet is one of the few Patagonia birds that only lives in this region. They are green with some red on their forehead, chest and tail and they stay in flocks of around 15 birds.
Where to find austral parakeets:
Their range is from Temuco in Chile to the southernmost tip of Patagonia.
Southern crested caracara (caracara plancus)
Found throughout Central and South America, the southern crested caracara is a bird of prey that is mainly dark brown in coloring, with a white neck and tail and orange patch around the beak.
Where to find southern crested caracaras:
On cold days, they can often be spotted by the sides of the roads waiting for thermal air currents. They are a very common sight throughout Patagonia.