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have been Focus On Nature Birding Tours in Chile,
with pelagic trips since 1990.
A Summary of our Valparaiso Sea-Trip in November 2005
A list of seabirds during our CHILE tour in November 2003
our chile sea-trips during the El Nino year of 1997
A LIST & PHOTO GALLERY OF CHILE BIRDS, in 2 Parts
UPCOMING FONT BIRDING & NATURE TOURS IN CHILE
FONT PAST TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
A Listing of Seabirds in Chilean waters
compiled by Armas Hill
In the Humboldt Current:
V: off Valparaiso, central Chile
A: off Arica, northern Chile
M: in Magellanic waters of
southern Chile (including
the Strait of Magellan)
(t): a globally threatened, or rare, species as designated by Birdlife International
(nt): a near-threatened species globally
(nt-dd): possibly a near-threatened species, but data deficient
CHr: rare in Chile
In the UPPER RIGHT PHOTO: Participants during a pelagic trip out of Valparaiso, as part of a FONT Chile Tour, looking one way as a Black-browed Albatross is on the water to their right.
2 boats were used during that trip. The photo was taken on the other boat.
New Zealand, & South Africa) ______ (V,A,M)
A circumpolar resident on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands in the southern Pacific, South Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Also along the coasts of South Africa, southern Australia, and New Zealand. In South America, ranges along the Pacific as far north as Ecuador, and along the Atlantic north to southern Brazil. On the Antarctic Peninsula, ranges south to 68 degrees S.
Franklin's Gull ______
During the northern summer, nests in North America, in inland portions of the United States and southern Canada. Outside its breeding season, a common to very common visitor to Chilean offshore oceanic waters. Usually in flocks, it has been during FONT tours off western South America in November, occurring with albatrosses and other pelagic species of the Southern Hemisphere.
(photo by Harold Lebo)
Laughing Gull ______
(1 in 1997, & 1 in
Only a very few occur as south as far-northern Chile.
Gull ______ (V,A)
Breeds in the Arctic. Occurs during the austral summer in Chilean offshore waters, as a pelagic species.
Gull ______ (A)
Occurs offshore from northern Chile. Breeds in the Galapagos Islands.
Tern ______ (V,A)
Breeds along the Pacific Coast of California USA and Mexico. During the austral summer, occurs along the west coast of South America. In Chile, as far south as Chiloe Island.
Tern ______ (A) (1 in 2003)
(rare in Chile)
Sterna sandvicensis acuflavidus
A very occasional visitor along the Chilean Pacific Coast, with records as far south as central Chile.
American Tern ______ (V,A)
A common to very common resident along the Chilean coast. The species ranges north along the Pacific to Peru.
Sterna hirundo hirundo
An uncommon visitor from North America, during the austral summer, along the Pacific coast and in offshore Chilean waters, occurring south to the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego.)
Tern ______ (V)
An uncommon visitor from the Northern Hemisphere, during the austral summer, south to the southern tip of South America and beyond. In waters surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula, it occurs as far south as 68 degrees S. Every year, this species makes one of the most spectacular long-distance migrations of any bird in the world.
______ (V,A) (endemic to
the Humboldt Current)
Nests along the desert coast of northern Chile and Peru. Ranges north to Ecuador. In Chile, from Arica south to Corral (Los Lagos). Gregarious.
Red (or Grey)
Phalarope ______ (V,A)
Breeds in the Arctic. An offshore visitor, during the austral summer, commonly in Chilean waters south to the latitude of Chiloe Island. Occasionally further south. Outside its nesting season, a pelagic species.
Breeds in the Arctic. An offshore visitor from September to April, uncommonly in Chilean waters south to the latitude of Los Lagos. Occasionally further south. Most common off northern Chile. Outside its breeding season, essentially pelagic.
Other Maritime Species along Chilean Coasts & Waterways
(has been called Olivaceous Cormorant) ______ (V,A)
Phalacrocorax brasilianus brasilianus (in most of Chile)
Phalacrocorax brasilianus hornenis (in far-southern Chile)
Occurs in a number of coastal and inland aquatic habitats.
Cormorant (or Rock Shag) (has
also been called Magellan Shag) ______
(M) (endemic to Patagonia)
Resident from Corral (Los Lagos) south to the Diego Ramirez Islands. Most common in the southern portion of its range. During the austral autumn, occasionally north along the Pacific to Valparaiso.
Cormorant (or Guanay Shag) ______
(or Guanay Shag) ______
Along the Pacific Coast, common in northern Chile and Peru. In Chile, occurs south to Mocha Island (Bio-Bio), occasionally south to Corral (Los Lagos). Associates with other seabirds in the presence of fish shoals in the Humboldt Current.
(M) (endemic to Patagonia)
Phalacrocorax (atriceps) atriceps (this and the King Shag (or King Cormorant) have been considered conspecific)
Resident in Chile from Santa Maria Island (Bio-Bio) south to the Diego Ramirez Islands (Magallanes). More common in the southern portion of its range. Mainly in waters influenced by the Pacific Ocean, but some do occur in eastern Tierra del Fuego and by the Atlantic.
(or King Cormorant) ______ (M)
(endemic to Patagonia & the
Phalacrocorax (atriceps) albiventer (this and the Imperial Shag have been considered conspecific)
Partly migratory resident from the Strait of Magellan south to the Wollaston Archipelago (Cape Horn). Mainly in waters influenced by the South Atlantic Ocean. During the austral winter, migrates north along the Argentine coast.
Cormorant (or Red-legged Shag)
(nt) ______ (V,A)
A somewhat common resident along the Pacific coast from Peru south in Chile to Corral (Los Lagos). Scarce south of there. Classified as Near-threatened, with an estimated population between 10,000 and 25,000 individuals.
Night-Heron ______ (A,V,M)
Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli (at Arica)
Nycticorax nycticorax obscurus (a darker form in areas of Valparaiso and the Strait of Magellan)
Patagonia & the Falklands/Malvinas)
Choephaga hybrida hybrida
Along Chilean coasts from Chiloe Island south to Tierra del Fuego, the Wollaston Archipelago (Cape Horn) and the Diego Ramirez Islands. Generally in territorial pairs in the summer, and in small loose flocks in the winter.
A female Kelp Goose
Steamer-Duck ______ (M)
(endemic to western Patagonian coasts and Tierra del
Strictly coastal species of the Pacific. Locally common resident from Corral (Los Lagos) and Chiloe Island south to the southern Tierra del Fuego and the Wollaston Archipelago (Cape Horn) More common in the southern portion of its range. Generally in pairs or family groups during the breeding season. Occurs in flocks of up to several hundred during the austral winter. Moves or "steams" across the water surface by paddle-like wing-beats for propulsion, supported also by its legs. The bird is unable to fly.
Oystercatcher ______ (V,A)
Haematopus palliatus pitanay
Locally common summer resident along the Chilean coast south to Chiloe Island.
Haematopus palliatus durnfordi
Occurs along the South Atlantic coast, but ranges, during the austral summer, into Chile in Magallanes and along the coast of Tierra del Fuego.)
Oystercatcher ______ (A)
Along Chilean coasts from Peru south to Tierra del Fuego and the Wollaston Archipelago (Cape Horn).
(or Fuegian) Oystercatcher ______
(M) (endemic to Patagonia)
In Chile, south from Chiloe Island to Tierra del Fuego and the Wollaston Archipelago (Cape Horn). Occurs both coastally and in assorted inland habitats.
American) Sheathbill ______
Locally common resident, in the austral summer, on the Antarctic Peninsula, on all the islands of the Scotia Arc, and on islands in the South Atlantic. During the austral winter, migrates north in Chile along the coast to Los Lagos. Some non-breeding adults remain throughout the year on eastern Patagonian coasts, on Tierra del Fuego, and in the Diego Ramirez Islands. Alone or in small loose flocks. A scavenger.
Chilean Seaside-Cinclodes ______
(V) (endemic to Chile)
From Arica south to Valdivia along rocky marine coasts. Some other furnariids occur along fresh water. Most live on land. This one by the sea.
Summary of the FONT Valparaiso Pelagic
in November 2005
An account written by tour leader,
FONT conducted, onNovember 14, 2005, its 16th Pelagic Trip from Valparaiso, in conjunction with its annual Chile Birding Tour. During most years, since 1991, this trip has been in November.
Over the years, many seabirds have been seen during thisValparaiso pelagic trip. Some years, the number of birds has been quite high, when there have been thousands of Sooty Shearwaters and thousands of phalaropes. This year, that was not the case, as the number of Sooty Shearwaters was small, and no phalaropes were seen. Some years, the waters of the Humboldt Current off Chile have been filled with seabirds that reside there exclusively. Species in that category include Guanay Cormorant and Peruvian Boobies. This year, numbers of both of those species seemed to be lower than usual.
The ocean off the Chilean coast can have not just high numbers of birds, but also a good variety of species. During our trip in 2005, there was an excellent variety, even though, as noted, some of the numbers, that given day, were down.
Seabirds come to that area of the Pacific Ocean, off Chile, from various places far away. Some of the Albatrosses (including the Salvin's and the Buller's) come from New Zealand, on the opposite side of the Southern Pacific. Other birds also come from there, including the rare Westland Petrel.
During our tour this year, the bird that was the highlight of our Chile Valparaiso pelagic came from New Zealand, where the species breeds. It was the Northern Royal Albatross. We've previously seen the Southern Royal Albatross during our trips over the years (at least once, maybe twice), but this was the first time for the Northern. What an exciting bird our Northern Royal Albatross was to see. It's big, very big. Its wingspan is as much as 138 inches. That's 10-feet, 6-inches, meaning that each wing is as much as 5-feet, 3-inches, the height of many people.
We saw the Northern Royal Albatross well, with those long wings in flight, and also as it was resting near us on the water. When the bird would take off from the water to fly, each time we watched its feet patter along the surface for 2 or 3 seconds, before the bird would become airborne. Our Northern Royal Albatross on Nov. 14, '05 was an immature bird.
When it was resting on the water near us, next to the Salvin's Albatross, the Northern Royal dwarfed that species, which is no small bird itself. The wingspan of the Salvin's Albatross is as much as 98-inches, or about 8-feet, or 4-feet per wing. We saw a few Salvin's Albatrosses, during our trip. And, there was yet another Southern Albatross, the Black-Browed.
During our Chile Pelagic Trips, since
1990, we've seen 9 species of Albatrosses:
Shy (or White-capped)
Other seabirds during our Nov. 14, 2005
pelagic, from Valparaiso, Chile were:
the Westland Black Petrel (as noted, from New Zealand), the White-chinned, and Cape Petrels (the latter known as the Pintado), the DeFilippi's Petrel (a pterodroma very similar to the Cook's Petrel), the Southern Giant-Petrel (one followed us nearly all the way back to shore), the Southern Fulmar, the Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, the Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Booby and Peruvian Pelican, Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants.
included the Kelp, and this year many Franklin's Gulls. It's
interesting how Franklin's Gulls can be on the ocean off the Chilean
coast, revising their life-style in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern
Hemisphere, of course, they breed far from the sea, in the interior of the
United States and Canada. A Sabine's Gull was also with the seabirds
around our boat off the Chilean coast, where we also saw an astonishing 6
species of Terns Common, Arctic, South American, Trudeau's, Elegant, and Inca.
It was a good day at sea.
Birds during FONT Chilean pelagic trips
in November 2003
An account written by tour leader, Armas Hill
was a good year for us pelagically off the coast of Chile. While for some
species numbers were not as high as they have been on occasion in the past,
virtually all of the good variety of species this year were seen well. Off
Valparaiso, out a little further and longer than other times, we enjoyed, with
the sun behind us, good looks at the oceanic birds, including the albatrosses,
close to the boat. The "chumming" brought the birds in. Some, such as
Pink-footed Shearwaters, could nearly be touched at the edge of the boat. The
oceanic waters off Arica were filled with fish (along with sea-lions and birds).
So the "chumming" there was rather ineffective. One of the highlights
of that trip was when a Peruvian Diving-Petrel, on the water by our boat,
moved in closer & closer as it seemed to be observing us!
In the following list of oceanic birds seen during our two pelagic trips, the red number relates to what was seen off Valparaiso (v), the blue number off Arica (a).
Penguin v:8, a:6
Black-browed Albatross/Mollymawk v:15
Buller's Albatross/Mollymawk v:1 or 2
Salvin's Albatross/Mollymawk v:25, a:1
Gray-headed Albatross/Mollymawk a: 1
Southern (or Antarctic) Giant-Petrel v:5
Southern (or Silver-grey) Fulmar v:1
Cape Petrel (or Pintado) v:8
Juan Fernandez Petrel v: 1 (possibly more)
DeFilippi's (or MasAtierra) Petrel v:10
Thin-/Slender-billed Prion v:3
White-chinned Petrel v:35, a:8
Westland (Black-) Petrel v:4
Pink-footed Shearwater v:30, a:4
Sooty Shearwaters v:200, a:30
Wilson's Storm-Petrel v:30, a:10 (possibly more)
Elliot's (or White-vented) Storm-Petrel a: 20-plus
Markham's Storm-Petrel a:2
Peruvian Diving-Petrel v:1, a:10
Peruvian Pelican v:100, a:many
Peruvian Booby v:50, a:many
Blue-footed Booby a:1 (rare in Chile)
Brown Booby a:1 (rare in Chile)
Guanay Cormorant v:3, a: a few
Red-legged Cormorant v:3
Red (or Grey) Phalarope v:25, a:1
Red-necked Phalarope a:25
Chilean Skua v:4
South Polar Skua a:1
Pomarine Jaeger a:1
Parasitic Jaeger a:30
Gray Gull a:many
Belcher's (formerly Band-tailed) Gull a:50
Kelp Gull v:dozens, a:1 or 2
Franklin's Gull v:100 a:200
Laughing Gull a:1
Sabine's Gull a:1
South Amercian Tern v:10 a:2
Common Tern v:1 (possibly more)
Arctic Tern v:5 (probably more)
Elegant Tern v:3, a:30
Sandwich Tern a:1 (rare in Chile)
Inca Tern v:20, a:100-plus
Birds during FONT Chilean pelagic trips
in November 1997
An account written by tour leader,
our more than a decade of pelagic trips off the Chilean coast, it was during
this year that the most birds were seen. That was due largely in part to the "El Nino phenomenon".
Another factor was our abundance of "chum". Anyway, our 2
pelagic birding trips off the coast of Chile in November '97 were among our
There were always birds in large numbers around our boats. Nearly all of the species were seen closely. Among them were 6 species of albatrosses!
One trip was on November 17, from Valparaiso, in central Chile. The other, on November 27, was from Arica in northern Chile, just south of Peru.
Each trip lasted about 5 hours. Each went out about 15 miles offshore.
Regarding the "chum": During the Valparaiso trip, there were 11 buckets of it (fish parts). During the Arica trip, there were 6 buckets. A second boat (from Arica) accompanied the boat with the birders. that second boat was just to carry the chum. During both trips, the chumming was continuous.
In the following list of oceanic birds, the red number relates to what was seen off Valparaiso (v), the blue number off Arica (a).
Penguin v:3 a:3
Black-browed Albatross (or Mollymawk) v:30 a:10
Buller's Albatross (or Mollymawk) v:5
Salvin's Albatross (or Mollymawk) v:50 a:3
Chatham (Island) Albatross (or Mollymawk) v:2 (or more)
Gray-headed Albatross (or Mollymawk) v:3
Waved (or Galapagos) Albatross a:15
Southern Giant-Petrel v:2
Southern (or Silver-grey) Fulmar v:4 a:2
Cape Petrel (or Pintado) v: 100 a:10
DeFilippi's (or MasAtierra) Petrel v:25
White-chinned Petrel v:15 a:8
Westland Petrel v:2
Pink-footed Shearwater v: a few thousand a: 10
Sooty Shearwaters v: thousands a: 800
a "Manx-type" shearwater (probably Townsend's) a:1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel v:1,000 a:100
White-vented (or Elliot's) Storm-Petrel a:50
Markham's Storm-Petrel a:1
Peruvian Diving-Petrel v:6 a:2
Peruvian Pelican v:1,000 a: many, many
Peruvian Booby v:200 a:5,000 (or more)
Guanay Cormorant v:10, a:3,000
Red-legged Cormorant v:6 a:3 (by the harbor)
Red (or Grey) Phalarope v:2 a:2
Chilean Skua v:6
South Polar Skua a:1
Pomarine Jaeger a:20
Long-tailed Jaeger a:1
Gray Gull v:10 a:1,000
Belcher's (formerly Band-tailed) Gull a:500
Kelp Gull v:hundreds a:100
Franklin's Gull v:many (mostly close to shore) a:20,000 (10x that along the coast)
Laughing Gull a:1(an immature)
Sabine's Gull a:100 (50 in one flock)
South American Tern v:100 (other terns possible)
Common Tern a:1
Elegant Tern v:3 a:30
Inca Tern v:1 a:100
(or Chilean) Pelican,
photographed by Harold Lebo, off Valparaiso, Chile
Peruvian (or Chilean) Pelican is similar to, but larger than, its
northerly cousin, the Brown Pelican. Off Valparaiso, they accompanied the boat
well offshore, eating a hefty portion of the chum. Off Arica, they did not come
out as far at sea, but in Arica itself, particularly around the harbor, there
were thousands - walking tamely on the streets and docks, and en masse on roofs
of buildings and by boats where fishermen were preparing their catch. The
pelicans, along with numerous gulls, terns, and cormorants made quite a
spectacle at the fishing port of Arica. That city, as a matter of interest, is
surrounded by one of the driest deserts on earth, the Atacama, where one of the
Arican birds, the Gray Gull, breeds.
Off Valparaiso, particularly numerous were Sooty Shearwaters, in a constant stream just offshore. That stream, of birds flying south, seemed to be never-ending.
The apparent Townsend's Shearwater (noted in the list above), seen off Arica, normally would occur further north over the Pacific, particularly off Central America.
Prior to 1997, (as far as we know) there were no records of either the Chatham Island Albatross or the Waved Albatross over Chilean waters. During our '97 Arica pelagic trip, there were 15 Waved Albatrosses.
Some of our other albatrosses in '97, were, such as the Chatham Island Albatross, from New Zealand and other islands in that area of the Pacific. Exceptions are the Gray-headed Albatross (which breeds in far-southern Chile) and the Black-browed Albatross, which we also see during our Chile tours much further to the south, often in large numbers, at the Strait of Magellan.
Highlights from previous Chile tours
photographed by Harold Lebo, during a FONT tour in Arica, Chile.
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