Argentina has become one of the world’s favourite destinations for birding. This is hardly surprising, as the country contains 1,080 confirmed species, including 17 endemics, and an enviable number of protected areas where the birds can live undisturbed and visitors can appreciate the peace and beauty of nature.
According to the independent body, The Nature Conservancy, Argentina is one of the countries in the world with the greatest diversity of natural resources. This large South American nation encompasses 18 eco-regions that include some of the continent’s highest mountains, its second largest forest and some of the deepest marine environments. There are 500 protected areas and 35 National Parks, the first of which was created in 1903. Historically, this makes Argentina the third country in the Americas, after the USA and Canada, to preserve its nature in this way.
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For birdwatchers, there are many areas to consider on a birding tour of Argentina. Here we list the best of them by province and outline what makes them special.
The Esteros del Iberá will always be the main focus of a trip to the north-eastern part of Argentina. This is an extensive wetland that covers around 12,000 sq km and is second only to the Pantanal in Brazil in size. A visit there is a perfect opportunity to see more than 400 species of birds. Some of the avian delights you can expect to add to your list are the Strange-tailed Tyrant, the Yellow Cardinal, the Black-and-white Monjita, the Jabiru, the Iberá Seedeater, the Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, the Stripe-backed Bittern, and the Red-and-green Macaw, which has just been established in that ecosystem.
Photo Credit: Strange-tailed Tyrant, Visit Argentina
Also within the Iberá biosphere, the Parque Nacional Mburucuyá is home to around 150 bird species with examples such as Southern Screamers, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Picazuro Pigeons and Scissor-tailed Nightjars among them. There are also exciting mammals to see, if you are lucky, such as Jaguars, Capybara and Maned Wolves.
Misiones is located in the north east of Argentina, bordering on Paraguay and southern Brazil. It is an area of sub-tropical rainforest that includes the largest stretch of Atlantic Forest still in existence. This is the place to arrange your birding trip to Argentina if you also want to connect with one of the seven most stunning natural wonders in the world. The Iguazú National Park is home not only to the world-famous and majestic waterfalls of Iguazú but also to more than 450 species of birds. Here you will find Toco Toucans, the Black-fronted Piping Guan, the White-bearded Manakin, the Spot-billed Toucanet, the Ornate Hawk-eagle and the White-bearded Antshrike, among many others.
Photo Credit: Toco Toucan, Visit Argentina
An addition to the birds there are a number of endangered mammal and reptile species located in the Park; species such as the Jaguar, the South American Tapir, the Ocelot, the Jaguarundi, the Giant Anteater, the Southern Tamandua and the Broad-snouted Caiman.
The province of Córdoba contains a wide variety of habitats. Within a short flight of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, you find large bodies of water, marshes, grasslands, high mountain steppes, vast arid plains and dense forests, all of which offer great birdwatching opportunities. The province has good road systems and facilities for travellers.
Congregating at the inland sea known as Mar Chiquita are huge flocks of some of the most emblematic and fascinating bird species on the continent. There are Greater Flamingos by the thousand to be found there, for example, and a large number of shorebirds that migrate from the northern hemisphere, including the Red-necked Phalarope.
Photo Credit: Peter Sackl, Greater Flamingos, Monticola
In the area between the Sierra Chica and Sierra Grande mountain ranges lies the Valle de Punilla where many smaller colourful songbirds birds can be enjoyed, such as Gnatcatchers, Blue-and-yellow Tanagers, Golden-billed Saltators, Ultramarine Grosbeaks, many types of hummingbirds, Scimitar-billed Woodcreepers and a number of woodpeckers.
Travelling up into the high mountains of Sierra Grande you arrive at the Pampa de Achala. This is a very particular eco-region with its own microclimate that has promoted a number of endemic species of flora and fauna. This is an area of woodland and Pampas grasslands punctuated by ravines where you can find birds such as the Long-tailed Meadowlark, Cordilleran Canastero and Rufous-banded Miner that can be found nowhere else.
The Camino a las Altas Cumbres road then takes you to Quebrada del Condorito National Park where the iconic Andean condor can be seen easily. It has been the subject of careful conservation in this area, reversing its decline in this part of South America.
Entre Rios Province
In contrast to the high mountains of Córdoba, Entre Rios is relatively flat with low hills and many rivers. The southern part of the province with its espinal forests, wetlands and savanna grasslands is known as one of the country’s birding hotspots. You can find Scimitar-billed Woodcreepers, Bay-capped Wren-Spinetails, Diademed Tanagers, Roseate Spoonbills and, at certain times of the year, Snail Kites.
Photo Credit: Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, Visit Argentina
There are two National Parks in the province – El Palmar NP and Diamante NP – and just 156km from Buenos Aires, the area around the city of Ceibas also provides birdwatchers with a wide variety of species. In fact, its not unusual for more than 100 different birds to be found in just one day. This is an area of wetlands, Pampas grasslands and forests where you can enjoy Rufous-sided Crakes, Golden Plovers and many different types of seedeaters, hummingbirds and woodpeckers.
The stars of the show here are the Straight-billed Reedhaunter and the Brown-and-yellow Marshbird. The latter, despite being in danger of extinction elsewhere, can here be seen in large flocks.
Buenos Aires Province
If you have a limited time in Argentina, on a short visit or business trip, another natural area in the country where more than 300 bird species can be seen is the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. Surprisingly this is situated in the heart of the bustling city of Buenos Aires. In 2005, this haven for wildlife was declared a Ramsar Site for its Wetland of International Importance. It has also been recognised as an Important Area for Bird Conservation by BirdLife International and Aves Argentinas.
Some of the more than 300 species that build their nests in this 350-hectare green area are the Scarlet-headed Blackbird, the Sayaca Tanager, the Tropical Parula, the Rufescent Tiger Heron and a wide diversity of other water birds and ducks.
Photo Credit: Black-fronted Piping Guan, Visit Argentina
The local specialist tour operators on Blue Sky Wildlife can arrange the perfect trip to this wildlife-rich South American country. Enquire direct or book through Blue Sky Wildlife for the best deals.