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The following list, and data,
Rare and Threatened Birds
the Andes and Patagonia
including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
Noting those found
during Focus On Nature Tours
Birding & Nature Tours in:
FONT Past Tour Highlights
Lists & Photo Galleries of Birds of: Argentina Chile Ecuador
More Rare Birds, in: the Caribbean Brazil Japan North & Middle America
In the following list, places (states, provinces, or countries) where birds have been seen during FONT tours are noted.
SPECIES OF SOUTH AMERICAN BIRDS IN THE ANDES & PATAGONIA
Species classified as CRITICALLY THREATENED:
Hooded Grebe Junin Grebe Black-breasted Puffleg Turquoise-throated Puffleg
Species classified as ENDANGERED:
Cauca Guan Northern Royal Albatross Black-browed Albatross Bogota Rail El Oro Parakeet
Violet-throated Metaltail Jocotoco Antpitta Yellow Cardinal Pale-headed Brush Finch
Species classified as VULNERABLE:
Bearded Guan Dark-backed Wood Quail Black-fronted Wood Quail Chubut Steamer Duck
Southern Rockhopper Penguin Wandering Albatross Gray-headed Albatross Andean Flamingo
Black-and-chestnut Eagle Austral Rail Olrog's Gull Peruvian Pigeon
Golden-plumed Parakeet White-necked Parakeet Spot-winged Parrotlet Red-faced Parrot
Cloud Forest Pygmy Owl Little Woodstar Coppery-chested Jacamar Chestnut-bellied Cotinga
White-tailed Shrike Tyrant Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant Giant Antpitta Moustached Antpitta
Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner Rufous-throated Dipper Cerulean Warbler
Masked Mountain Tanager Tanager Finch Tucuman Mountain Finch
Species classified as NEAR-THREATENED:
Lesser Rhea Wattled Guan Rufous-breasted Wood Quail Ruddy-headed Goose Spectacled Duck
Magellanic Penguin Sooty Shearwater Red-legged Cormorant Chilean Flamingo
Puna Flamingo Andean Condor Striated Caracara Semicollared Hawk Rufous-tailed Hawk
Horned Coot Magellanic Plover Diademed Plover Red Knot Hudsonian Godwit Fuegian Snipe
Colombian Screech Owl Black-thighed Puffleg Toucan Barbet Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan
Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan Yellow-headed Manakin Olive-sided Flycatcher
Orange-banded Flycatcher Ochre-breasted Antpitta Peruvian Antpitta Crescent-faced Antpitta
Maquis Canastero Equatorial Graytail Star-chested Treerunner Greater Scythebill Beautiful Jay
Bar-winged Wood Wren Golden-winged Warbler Gray-throated Warbler Giant Conebill
Black-and-white Tanager Purplish-mantled Tanager Masked Saltator
A New Species described recently, in 2013: Pincoya Storm Petrel
Andean & Patagonian Bird
Species classified as CRITICALLY THREATENED
1 HOODED GREBE ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
The Hooded Grebe was discovered and described recently, in 1974. The discovery
was in Argentina about 150 kilometers east of the Perito Moreno Glacier (the Los
Glaciares National Park).
At first, only about 250 Hooded Grebes were thought to exist. During the next two decades, a survey of the plateaus of Santa Cruz province was undertaken and the estimated population of the Hooded Grebe was believed to be from 3,000 to 5,000 birds. Thus, in 1994, the status of the species was downlisted from "threatened" to "near-threatened".
During its breeding season, the Hooded Grebe occurs solely on the high plateaus in Argentinian Patagonia east of the Andes. It breeds on a few basaltic lakes in the interior of Santa Cruz province.
In the winter, the species migrates. When the high plateau lakes are frozen, most Hooded Grebes move to the Atlantic coast of Santa Cruz. The only known wintering grounds are along the Santa Cruz, Coyle, and Gallegos estuaries.
The migratory flights of the Hooded Grebe across the Patagonian steppe are at night.
The mystery of where the species went in the winter was not solved until 1994, twenty years after the bird's discovery. To this day, the whereabouts of immature birds during the harsh winter and their migration routes are still unknown.
After the winter discoveries of 1994, it was assumed that the status of the Hooded Grebe was secure, given the number thought to exist and the remoteness of where the bird occurred.
But in 2009, a team of naturalists and biologists surveyed, during 3 weeks in the summer, the known range of the Hooded Grebe, attempting to determine a population count and find breeding colonies. And what they found was disheartening, as many of the lakes were dry or becoming clogged with silt due to the general desertification of the region.
The situation continued to be studied the next couple years, without good news.
During the years 2009 to 2011, strong winds caused around 50 per cent of all the breeding attempts of the Hooded Grebe to fail.
The most recent counts at the wintering grounds indicated that during 7 years there was a decline of the Hooded Grebe population by 40 per cent.
Surveys at known breeding sites in 2006 and 2007 also found sharp declines. At one lake, where there had been 452 birds, there were 51. At 3 other lakes, where collectively there had been nearly 1,000 birds, there were none.
In 2009, the species was uplisted from "near threatened" to "threatened". Now the Hooded Grebe is listed as "critically threatened", as the situation has continued to worsen.
During the last three breeding seasons (up to 2011), data has shown that the estimated global population of the species fell close to 80 per cent, when compared to what had been found back in the 1980s.
In the 1980s, an average of 2,500 Hooded Grebes were found at 78 lakes. In 2011, only 400 were found at those 78 lakes and at around 120 other lakes.
While it is thought that numbers can fluctuate considerably from year to year, the overall declines that have been found at both the breeding and wintering grounds of the Hooded Grebe sadly appear to be real and rapid.
The Hooded Grebe has been seen during FONT tours in far-southern Argentina, in Patagonia. During one tour, as many as a hundred were nicely seen on one lake.
2 JUNIN GREBE ______ in the Andes: Peru (where endemic)
The Junin Grebe is not only endemic to Peru. It is endemic to one particular Andean lake about 12.000 feet above sea level, Lake Junin.
The bird has undergone a significant population decline.
In 1961, there were probably over 1,000 birds. In the 1980s, there were about 250 birds.
Only 100 birds were counted in 1992, and the following year only 50 could be found.
In 1995, up to just over 200 individuals were found to exist. But the breeding seasons in 1995-1996 & 1996 & 1997 were unsuccessful. Only 2 broods fledged in 1997-1998.
More recently, the population of the Junin Grebe was said to be just over 300 in 2001, about 250 in 2002, and just under 220 in 2007.
The Junin Grebe was seen during a tour in Peru organized by Armas Hill in 1980s, shortly before he created Focus On Nature Tours.
3 BLACK-BREASTED PUFFLEG
______ in the Andes: Ecuador (where
The Black-breasted Puffleg was described
in 1852, from Tumbasco in Ecuador. At that time, it was seemingly
quite common as over 100 specimens went into museums.
More recently, the species was not seen from 1950 to 1980 when 3 were found. It was not until 1993 that it was located with some regularity on isolated forest ridges at Yanacocha on the slopes of Volcan Pichincha near Quito. Apparently the bird is not a resident there as it is absent between February and November, when it is believed to migrate to lower altitudes in search of flowering food plants.
Charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture still threatens the very small population of the Black-breasted Puffleg in its restricted range.
The Black-breasted Puffleg has been seen during FONT tours in Ecuador.
4 TURQUOISE-THROATED PUFFLEG ______ in the Andes: Ecuador (where endemic)
Andean & Patagonian Bird Species classified as ENDANGERED:
5 CAUCA GUAN ______ in the Andes: Colombia (where endemic)
6 NORTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS ______ in Patagonia: Chile, Argentina (offshore)
The Northern Royal Albatross breeds on the
Chatham and Auckland Islands off New Zealand, on the South Island of New
Nearly all of the total population (99%) is on the Chatham Islands, where there are from 6,500 to 7,000 pairs.
Thus, this species, classified as Endangered, is restricted to a tiny breeding range, and the current decline equates to a rapid population reduction of at least 55% in 60 years (3 generations).
Away from their breeding areas, both the Northern Royal Albatross (here) and the Southern Royal Albatross (below, in the "Vulnerable Species" section of this list) occur over oceanic waters off the coasts of Patagonian South America.
Both species have been seen during FONT pelagic trips offshore from Chile.
7 BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
Nearly 75% of the world population
of the Black-browed Albatross breed on the Falkland Islands in the South
The species also nests on South Georgia Island and on outer islands of southern Chile: Diego Raimirez, Idlefonso, Evout and Diego de Almagro.
The Black-browed Albatross is now classified as endangered, as the species has undergone a significant population decline due at least in part to long-line fisheries.
Above & below: Black-browed Albatrosses
photographed during FONT tours
(photo above by Alan Brady;
photos below by Bjorn Johansson))
8 BOGOTA RAIL ______ in the Andes: Colombia (where endemic)
9 EL ORO PARAKEET ______ in the Andes: Ecuador (where endemic)
El Oro Parakeet
10 VIOLET-THROATED METALTAIL ______ in
the Andes: Ecuador (where endemic)
11 JOCOTOCO ANTPITTA ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Peru (where very rare)
The Jocotoco Antpitta was discovered on November 20, 1997.
Above & below: the Jocotoco Antpitta
Below, the handheld bird gives an idea of its size
12 YELLOW CARDINAL ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Uruguay
The YELLOW CARDINAL is referred to in a narrative later in this last, relating to the RED KNOT (number #58 in the list).
The Yellow Cardinal has been seen during FONT tours in Argentina, in northern Patagonia.
13 PALE-HEADED BRUSH FINCH ______ in the Andes: Ecuador (where endemic)
A slight recovery in the tiny population of the critically-threatened
Pale-headed Brush Finch has given some hope. As of 2010, it has increased
from less than 20 to 60 breeding pairs.
It is (in 2012) classified by Birdlife International as "endangered", having been "critically endangered".
Threats to the species have been fires, grazing, competition with other brush finches, and cowbird parasitism.
14 BEARDED GUAN ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Peru
15 DARK-BACKED WOOD QUAIL ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Colombia
The Dark-backed Wood Quail has been seen during FONT tours on the western side of the Andes in Ecuador.
16 BLACK-FRONTED WOOD QUAIL ______ in the Andes: Venezuela, Colombia
17 CHUBUT (or WHITE-HEADED) STEAMER DUCK ______ in Patagonia: Argentina (where endemic)
The Chubut, or White-headed Steamer Duck has been seen during FONT tours in southern Argentina, along the northern Patagonian coast of the South Atlantic.
This is 1 of 3 flightless species in that area. The others are the Lesser Rhea and Magellanic Penguin. All 3 of those species are in this listing of threatened birds.
Above & below: Chubut, or White-headed Steamer Ducks
during the FONT tour in southern Argentina in December 2013
(photos by Marie Gardner)
18 SOUTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENGUIN ______ in Patagonia: Argentina
Some taxonomists consider all of the populations of Rockhopper Penguins to be one species with 3 subspecies.
However, others assert that those around the southern coasts of South America and in the subarctic waters of the southern Pacific Oceans are the Southern Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome.
What is called the Northern Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes moseleyi, lives in waters separated by the Subtropical Front, and is genetically different.
It breeds on Tristan de Cunha, Gough, St. Paul, and Amsterdam Islands in South Atlantic & Indian Oceans.
The Southern Rockhopper Penguin has been seen during FONT Argentina tours in Patagonia in the area of Puerto Deseado.
Southern Rockhopper Penguin photographed
during a FONT tour in Argentina
(photo by Alan Brady)
19 WANDERING ALBATROSS
______ in Patagonia: Chile, Argentina
The Wandering Albatross and the Royal Albatrosses (the Northern & the Southern, both in this list) has wingspans as long as 330 centimeters or 130 inches, that is nearly 11 feet across and a length of over 5 feet per wing. These are the longest wings in nature.
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE FINE BOOK, "EYE OF THE ALBATROSS"
written by Carl Safina, published in 2002:
Albatrosses are creatures of air inside and out. Air sacs surround their organs and extend even into their hollow wing bones.
An albatross's entire skeleton accounts for only 15 per cent of the bird's total weight.
One would expect massive flight muscles, but again these birds can surprise one.
In most birds, flight muscle accounts for about 16 per cent of body weight, but most albatrosses' flight muscles amount to only 9 per cent of body mass.
In the great Wandering and Royal Albatrosses, flight muscle is a mere 6 per cent, with very reduced biceps.
These creatures are truly gliding machines.
More than anything, albatrosses' long narrow wings make them extreme range mileage mechanisms. The ratio of wingspan to wing width of a Wandering Albatross is 18 to 1, similar to the best human-made gliders.
For the Wandering Albatross, the wings' lift-to-drag ratio, that is lifting force to air resistance, is a remarkable 40 to 1, more than triple that of many eagles.
Although so adept at mining energy from the weather, the gigantic Wandering and Royal Albatrosses are really "gliding-adapted" to a fault, They are incapable of sustained flapping flight. Calm weather leaves them stranded on the sea surface.
Their existence depends on having winds that continue blowing. Fortunately for them, where they live in the Southern Hemisphere, wind remains plentiful, at least for now.
Indeed, the large albatrosses as we know them could only have evolved in the windiest place on Earth - the Southern Oceans, where an abundant supply of moving air has breathed creation into Life's most amazing capacity for flight.
Both the Wandering Albatross (here) and the Southern Royal Albatross (below) occur over oceanic waters off the coast of Patagonian South America.
A Wandering Albatross during a FONT tour.
Dwarfed by it are two Cape Petrels.
(photo by Steve Gantlett)
20 SOUTHERN ROYAL ALBATROSS ______ in Patagonia: Chile, Argentina (offshore)
The Southern Royal Albatross breeds on
Campbell and Auckland Islands off New Zealand. Global population about
28,000 individuals. The main threat to the species is offshore long-line fishing
The Southern Royal Albatross has been seen during FONT pelagic trips offshore from Chile.
A Southern Royal Albatross photographed
during a FONT pelagic trip off the coast of Chile.
21 GRAY-HEADED ALBATROSS ______ in Patagonia: Chile, Argentina
About half of the world population of the
Gray-headed Albatross breeds on South Georgia Island in the South
Atlantic Ocean, but also nests on outer islands of southern Chile: Diego
Ramirez and Idlefonso.
It disperses in the South Atlantic north to 35 degrees S and in the Pacific, in the Humboldt Current, north to 15 degrees S off Peru.
The Gray-headed Albatross is classified as Vulnerable, with a declining global population estimated at about 250,000 individuals. There is believed to have been a 20% decrease over the last 60 years (3 generations). A high mortality-rate is associated with long-line fishing.
The Gray-headed Albatross has been seen during FONT pelagic trips offshore from Chile.
A Gray-headed Albatross photographed during a FONT tour in Chile.
Also in the photo are a Pink-footed Shearwater (above)
and a Wilson's Storm Petrel (below).
Like the albatross, the Pink-footed Shearwater is classified
by Birdlife International as a "vulnerable species".
(photo by Harold Lebo)
Two albatrosses during a FONT pelagic trip off the coast of Chile.
The bird on the right, a Gray-headed Albatross.
The bird on the left, a Black-browed Albatross, a species
elsewhere in this list, in the grouping of birds classified as "endangered".
When this photograph was taken, in the early 1990s,
the Black-browed Albatross was not yet considered threatened,
or even near-threatened.
(photo by Harold Lebo)
22 ANDEAN FLAMINGO ______ in the Andes: Argentina, Chile
23 BLACK-AND-CHESTNUT EAGLE ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
24 AUSTRAL RAIL ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
Until 1998, there were only 3 records of the Austral Rail
since 1900, and none since 1959.
In January 1998, an effort was made to find the bird, and it was found (in response to a tape recording of the similar Virginia Rail) between Calafate and La Angostura, in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina. An individual of this obviously secretive species, responding to the taped call, gave a sufficiently good view to substantiate the rediscovery of the species.
Since then, the Austral Rail has been found at a number of sites in that part of Argentina, and even in Chile.
In Argentina, the sites have been at 7 localities in Santa Cruz province and 2 in Chubut.
In Chile, two sites for the Austral Rail have been in Magallanes.
So it was in 1998 that the voice of the Austral Rail, itself, was determined. The bird gives a series of 5 to 10 high-pitched and strident "pi-ric" notes introduced by a single "pic". Also the bird has a loud call.
Curiously, all of the recent records of the Austral Rail have been outside the historical range, despite searchings at former haunts.
That the bird is found in Patagonia during its breeding season, while the historical Buenos Aires specimens were taken in the autumn and winter, seems to confirm that the species is migratory. On the other hand, there were old breeding records in central Chile (well to the north of Patagonia).
A recent record of an Austral Rail on the Falkland Islands seems to have been a vagrant, thus substantiating the species to be migratory.
The Austral Rail has a dusky red bill, and pinkish-red legs.
A common bird also in Patagonia, the Plumbeous Rail, is larger than
the rare Austral Rail.
The Plumbeous Rail, Pardirallus sanguinolentus, has a green bill (longer than that of the Austral Rail), and plain underparts and an unbarred rear.
All of the crakes in Argentina are smaller than the Plumbeous Rail and the Austral Rail.
An Austral Rail was seen during the FONT Argentina Tour in December 2013 at a marsh in Patagonia in the province of Santa Cruz, northwest of La Leona.
It was seen as it did a quick, short flight, dropping into the reeds of the marsh.
25 OLROG'S GULL ______ in Patagonia: Argentina
The Olrog's Gull has been seen during FONT tours in Argentina along the Patagonian seacoast of the South Atlantic.
26 PERUVIAN (or MARANON) PIGEON ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Peru
27 GOLDEN-PLUMED PARAKEET ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
28 WHITE-NECKED PARAKEET ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
29 SPOT-WINGED PARROTLET ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
30 RED-FACED PARROT ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
31 CLOUD FOREST PYGMY OWL ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Colombia, possibly Peru
32 LITTLE WOODSTAR ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
During a FONT tour in Ecuador in July 1997, a nest was found of the Little
A Little Woodstar was also seen during the FONT Ecuador Tour in April 2013.
The Little Woodstar is close to being the smallest bird in the world, from 2.36 to 2.75 inches in length.
The nest of the Little Woodstar is little too: 1.35 inches high, with a depth in the cup of 0.66 inches, and an interior diameter of 0.65 inches.
A nest of
the Little Woodstar (left photo); the bird (in right photo, indicated
by an arrow) smaller than the leaves.
During a FONT tour in western Ecuador in July 1997.
The Little Woodstar, a species not commonly seen, is one of the smallest of all hummingbirds.
33 COPPERY-CHESTED JACAMAR ______
in the Andes: Ecuador
34 CHESTNUT-BELLIED COTINGA ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Colombia
35 WHITE-TAILED SHRIKE-TYRANT ______ in the Andes: Chile, Ecuador
The White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant was seen nicely during the FONT Ecuador Tour in April 2013, in the High Andes not far from where we enjoyed watching Andean Condors.
36 CINNAMON-BREASTED TODY-TYRANT ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
37 GIANT ANTPITTA ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
38 MOUSTACHED ANTPITTA ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
The Moustached Antpitta has been seen during FONT tours on the western side of the Andes in Ecuador.
A Moustached Antpitta photographed
during the FONT Ecuador Tour in April 2013
(photo by Marie Gardner)
39 RUFOUS-NECKED FOLIAGE-GLEANER ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
40 RUFOUS-THROATED DIPPER ______ in the Andes: Argentina
The Rufous-throated Dipper has been seen during FONT tours in northwestern Argentina.
41 CERULEAN WARBLER ______ in the Andes: Venezuela, Ecuador
Setophaga (formerly Dendroica) cerulea
THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE "BIRDLINE" by Armas Hill on November 8, 2011:
There's a rather new book about the Cerulean Warbler entitled "Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird", written by Katie Falon.
"Cerulean Blues" describes the plight of the Cerulean Warbler as it struggles to survive in ever-shrinking suitable habitat.
It is now said to be the fastest declining warbler species in the United States, with 3 per cent of its total population lost each year since 1966.
That means that there are now 80 per cent fewer Cerulean Warblers that there were 40 years ago, and their numbers continue to drop, due to factors such including deforestation.
In South America, the Cerulean Warbler occurs, when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, in Venezuela and Colombia, and as far south as eastern Ecuador, southeastern Peru, and perhaps occasionally in northern Bolivia.
"Wintering" birds are found in Andean submontane forest, mainly between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level.
Dead birds have been found in the paramo habitat at 3,550 meters (about 10,650 feet) above sea level in the Venezuelan Andes around Laguna de Mucubaji near Merida.
42 MASKED MOUNTAIN TANAGER ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
43 TANAGER FINCH ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
The rare Tanager Finch was seen early one morning during the FONT Ecuador tour in April 2013 on the western side of the Andes. 3 individuals were seen
The rarely-seen Tanager
photographed during the FONT tour
in Ecuador in April 2013
(photo by Marie Gardner)
44 TUCUMAN MOUNTAIN FINCH ______ in the Andes: Argentina (where endemic)
The Tucuman Mountain Finch has been found during FONT tours in northwestern Argentina.
Andean & Patagonian Bird Species classified as NEAR-THREATENED:
45 LESSER RHEA ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
Above & below: Lesser Rheas photographed during FONTs tour in Patagonia
This subspecies, Rhea p. pennata, is called the "Darwin's Rhea".
Below: about 50 of them on a road on the Valdes Peninsula
during the FONT tour in southern Argentina in December 2013.
To the right, in the photo,
a lone adult bird, a male raising multiple broods,
of various ages, with some of the young larger and some smaller.
Quite a sight in front us on the road.
(upper photo by Alan Brady in far-southern Chile;
lower photo by Marie Gardner in southern Argentina.)
46 WATTLED GUAN ______
in the Andes: Ecuador
47 RUFOUS-BREASTED WOOD QUAIL ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
The Rufous-breasted Wood Quail was seen nicely during the FONT Ecuador Tour in April 2013.
48 RUDDY-HEADED GOOSE ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
The Ruddy-headed Goose haws been seen during FONT tours in Patagonian Argentina and Chile.
(photo by Hubert Hall)
49 SPECTACLED (or
BRONZE-WINGED) DUCK ______ in the
Patagonian Andes: Argentina,
The Spectacled Duck was seen during our FONT tour in far-southern Argentina in December 2013.
Two photographs are below of a single bird at the Perito Moreno Glacier.
That same day, elsewhere in that area, a family of Spectacled Ducks was seen, with the 2 adults and ducklings.
This Spectacled Duck seemed to
like the cold water by the glacier.
In the photo below, it is swimming among large pieces of ice.
(photos by Marie Gardner)
PENGUIN ______ in Patagonia:
During recent years, the total population of the Magellanic Penguin has been decreasing.
As of 2012, that population has been estimated as being 1.3 million pairs, with 950,000 breeding along the coast of Argentina, at least 100,000 in the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, and at least 200,000 nesting in Chile.
In Argentina, there are just over 60 sites where Magellanic Penguins breed.
In Chile, there are at least 10 locations.
Recent population trends have been different at various colonies. The two largest colonies in Argentina have had decreases during the last decade, but other smaller colonies have grown.
In Argentina, the Caleta Valdes colony has increased from 2 pairs in the early 1960s to 26,000 pairs in the early 1990s.
The Isla Deseado colony, in Argentina, more than doubled between 1986 and 1996.
What has been a very large colony in Argentina at Punta Tombo has decreased by about 30 per cent since 1987, with high juvenile and young adult mortality.
The Cabo Virgenes colony has remained stable for the last 10 years.
In Argentina, Magellanic Penguins have been seen during FONT tours at a number of the nesting colonies just mentioned, including Punta Tombo, Isla Deseado, and Caleta Valdes, and also in far-southern Argentina in the area of the Beagle Channel and elsewhere around Tierra del Fuego.
In Chile, Magellanic Penguins have been seen during FONT tours at various places including sites on Chiloe Island, near Vina del Mar, and near Punta Arenas.
Outside their breeding season, Magellanic Penguins migrate north to the coast and offshore waters of Brazil. During FONT tours in that country, they have been seen in Rio Grande do Sul and near Ubatuba in Sao Paulo state.
Magellanic Penguins, tracked by satellite and GPS sensor tags during their breeding season, have been found to typically forage more than 100 kilometers from their nesting sites, and sometimes, at various colonies in Argentina, as much 600 kilometers from the sites.
Individual Magellanic Penguins show a high site fidelity, with nearly all birds returning to the colony in which they were born, and with most adults using the same burrow year after year.
As vagrants, Magellanic Penguins have occurred as far north (in the Pacific Ocean) as El Salvador in 2007, and south to Avian Island on the Antarctic Peninsula, and also as far away as New Zealand and Australia.
Above: Magellanic Penguins
at the colony in Argentina at Punta Tombo
during FONT tours in Chile.
Above, near Punta Arenas. Below. on Chiloe Island.
And lastly, a Magellanic Penguin
peering from its burrow in Argentina.
Photographed during a FONT tour.
51 SOOTY SHEARWATER ______ in Patagonia: Chile, Argentina
The Sooty Shearwater has been a common
austral summer resident to offshore far-southern South American waters.
It has bred in large numbers during September-May in far-southern Chile in the Diego Ramirez Islands and the Wollaston Archipelago (Cape Horn) and also at the Magellanes, Guamblin (Aysen), and Guafo Islands, and Chiloe Island.
After the breeding season, it disperses northward to the coastal waters of the North Pacific Ocean.
The Sooty Shearwater is highly gregarious, congregating in huge and extensive flocks. During migration, it has been in flocks of up to hundreds of thousands of birds.
Although the Sooty Shearwater has had a very large global population, it is said by Birdlife International to have undergone a moderately rapid decline due, to among other reasons, the impact of fisheries. Thus, it is now classified as a globally "near-threatened" species.
During FONT tours in southern South America, the Sooty Shearwater has been seen either offshore or from shore.
A Sooty Shearwater photographed during a FONT pelagic trip.
The species has been seen during FONT pelagic trips
in the North Atlantic Ocean off eastern North America.
in the South Pacific Ocean off western South America,
and in the North Pacific Ocean off western North America,
Costa Rica, and Japan.
Only very few other species have been seen
during FONT pelagic trips at so many places.
52 RED-LEGGED CORMORANT ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
53 CHILEAN FLAMINGO ______ in the Andes & Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
Above & below: Chilean Flamingos photographed during
the FONT tour in southern Argentina in December 2013
Above: an adult Below: immatures
(photos by Marie Gardner)
54 PUNA (or JAMES') FLAMINGO ______ in the Andes: Argentina, Chile
55 ANDEAN CONDOR ______ in the Andes & Patagonia: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador
From the book, "THE FLIGHT OF THE CONDOR" by Michael Andrews, published in 1982,
which was a companion to the television series with the same name by the BBC, and on PBS in the U.S.,
the following excerpts relate to the ANDEAN CONDOR:
"Anyone who has once seen an Andean Condor in flight is unlikely to confuse it with anything else. The broad straight wings with their spreading "fingers", the heavy wedge of a tail and the short neck all add up to a characteristic silhouette.
Its wing area is near 2 square meters (or 4.6 square feet), a with the weight of about 12 kilos (26.4 pounds), this gives it the low wing-loading necessary for slow soaring flight.
One can watch an Andean Condor fly for hours without seeing it flap, and then it is usually only to takeoff, or a few strokes before gliding again."
Andrews wrote that during his days with the filming of "The Flight of the Condor", he "only saw once a group of condors flapping hard, and that was as they raced downward across the Peruvian Andes ahead of a storm."
"In the air the bird moves with such skill and grace that one forgets how cumbersome it is on the ground. It is also hard to get an accurate impression of its size"
"The first time"", Andrews wrote, that he "realized just how big a condor is" was when he saw "a stuffed one perched on the grand piano of the Director of the Chilean Academy of Music. It dwarfed the instrument."
Andean Condors are birds of the vast solitudes of the mountains, shying away from areas frequented by man. There are a few in Colombia, but they are mostly to be found from Ecuador south to Cape Horn. They do not fly north of the Rio Negro on the coastal plains of Argentina (the river that forms the northern boundary of Patagonia), nor do they fly to the coast in Ecuador or Colombia. But they do frequent the desert coast of Peru in the summer.
Individual Andean Condors have been kept in captivity for over 50 years, and their natural life-span is also long.
The young do not acquire their full breeding plumage, with a white neck ring and a large patch of white on the upper surface of the wings, until they are 8 years old. Before that, they are brown.
The young birds fly with the adults for several years after they have fledged, and they observe a pecking order when feeding together on the ground, with that order established by their making a nibbling beak to beak action.
It seems that Andean Condors find their prey by keen eyesight, watching each other, as well as the ground, as they cruise in wide circles over the mountains.
When one condor sees carrion, or the activities of Caracaras or Turkey Vultures, it descends, and others soon follow it down.
Apparently, Andean Condors has little sense of smell. In that regard, Charles Darwin conducted some basic experiments, carrying a piece of meat wrapped in white paper past a row of tethered condors at a distance of 3 yards.
"No notice whatsoever was taken. I then threw it on the ground within one yard of an old male bird. He looked at it for a moment with attention, but then regarded it no more. With a stick I pushed it closer and closer, until at last he touched it with his beak. The paper was then instantly ripped off with fury, and at the same moment every bird in the long row began struggling and flapping its wings."
Since Darwin's day, there have been many more scientific experiments relating to birds' sense of smell, and it is now known that Turkey Vultures and Yellow-headed Vultures can smell.
There seems little doubt that the Andean Condor exploits the Turkey Vulture's abilities when it can.
Andean Condors have figured in the mythology of the native people of South America for thousands of years.
There is an unmistakable outline of one drawn on the famous pampa of the Nazca line, and their image appears on the pottery and textiles of many of the early pre-Inca cultures.
The depiction of an Andean Condor is on the coat-of-arms of four of the South American republics, and Bolivia's highest order of merit is the Order of the Condor.
With that, it probably is best not to think too much of the fact that the Andean Condor is a "large vulture".
During the April 2013 FONT tour in Ecuador, as many as 21 Andean Condors were seen at one time.
56 STRIATED CARACARA ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
(photo by Hubert Hall)
57 SEMICOLLARED HAWK ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
58 RUFOUS-TAILED HAWK ______ in Patagonia: Chile
59 HORNED COOT ______ in the Andes: Argentina, Chile
60 MAGELLANIC PLOVER ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
Magellanic Plovers (3 of them) were seen during the FONT tour in Patagonian Argentina in December 2013.
Two of them are in lower photo below.
Above & below: pairs of rare Magellanic Plovers photographed
during FONT tours in far-southern Patagonia.
Those below were during the our Argentina Tour in December 2013.
(lower photo by Marie Gardner)
61 DIADEMED PLOVER ______ in the Andes: Chile, Peru
Phegornis mitchellii has also been called the Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. Another old name for it was the Mitchell's Plover.
By whatever name, Phegornis mitchellii is a most unusual bird, and one that's truly special. Where it occurs in the High Andes, in the puna zone, from Peru and Bolivia south to central Chile and Argentina, the Diademed Plover is local in distribution.
In addition to being rare, the little 7 inch-long bird can often be difficult to find as it is inconspicuous due to its small size, confiding nature, slow movements, and a rather effective camouflage.
As to even its basic ecology, still much is unknown about the Diademed Plover. Older books refer to the bird's seasonal movements and other aspects of its behavior as "unknown", and still today such information is lacking, primarily due to the remote, and often inaccessible places where it occurs.
With its sandpiper-like bill, there has over the years, been some uncertainty as to the taxonomic position of Phegornis mitchellii.
What is now called the Diademed Plover was first described in 1845.
In 1888, there was still some question about it, as it was placed among the Scolopacidae, the sandpiper family, with the name of Chilean Short-winged Sandpiper.
In the 1920s, it was said to have greater affinities with the plovers, and it was included among them in the Charadriidae.
As late as in 1958, in a comprehensive review of the world's plovers, it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence to either retain Phegornis mitchellii among the plovers or to place it with the sandpipers and that consequently its true affinities were "still unknown". Thus, the name Diademed Sandpiper-Plover.
Since then, taxonomists have decided to put Phegornis mitchelli with the plovers, and thus now the shortened common name.
The adjective in the name Diademed Plover relates to the striking white ring that adorns the bird's dark head.
The Diademed Plover is a remarkable denizen of the high Andes. In the northern part of its range (in Peru) lives at an altitude of from 10,000 to 16,000 feet above sea level.
At a well-known site for the bird in the southern part of its range, in the Andes of central Chile, it occurs during its breeding season at about 8,000 feet above sea level. In that southern part of its range, the bird is a migratory species, arriving in its nesting area in October.
In the southern part of its range, the Diademed Plover may occur as low as 6,000 feet above sea level, but in the north it is not ever found below an altitude of 10,000 feet.
There may be a limited northward migration along the Andes after the bird's nesting season, but, as noted earlier in this narrative, even yet seasonal movements of the Diademed Plover, when not breeding, remain uncharted. Some sightings have suggested that they may be, that time of year, in high Andean passes, and if so, they would be enduring weather and elements not experienced by any other shorebird.
The population of the Diademed Plover is said to be small and seemingly declining. Birdlife International estimates the total population throughout its rather large range as being less than 10,000 individuals, with mature birds rounded off to being from about 1,500 to maybe, at best, 7,000. These birds are in a number of subpopulations throughout the species' range.
At the site referred to here earlier, at 8,000 feet above sea level in central Chile, the Diademed Plover has been seen during more than a dozen tours since 1990.
That site, in a valley nestled among snow-capped peaks, is with montane streambeds and bogs. Diademed Plovers favor such places by shallow streambeds and high-elevation bogs, where they can be found on the ground among the cushion plants.
The birds, with their unplover-like, peculiar long bills, frequently pause atop cushion plants, or rocks, and then they suddenly begin dipping their bodies forward every few seconds, in a manner that's quite unlike that of typical plover.
But, as already said, even though it is now called a "plover', Phegornis mitchellii, is surely not a typical member of that group.
And if the natural environment in which the bird is found seemed above to have been well described, do not be fooled into thinking it's so simple. Many places that seem to us humans to be the "perfect habitat" for the Diademed Plover, are, so often, without any.
In January of 2011, during the austral summer, a study was begun to hopefully learn more about the mysterious and mystical Diademed Plover.
During that effort, still underway, some adults and chicks have been banded, with unique color combinations that would allow the research team to assess any data that can be learned about the birds, relating to such things as life expectancy, site fidelity, and chick survival rates during single and subsequent seasons.
During the study thus far, some Diademed Plovers have been found nesting on dry, grassy mounds, quite some distance from running water, while other nests have been found on small, stony islands in the middle of rushing streams.
Seen in the nests have been two splotchy brown eggs, while on other territories not that far away adults were seen herding chicks on wobbly legs across a wet meadow, while, at the same time, in the same general area, other fledged young were already foraging beside their parents.
Such a broad spectrum in the breeding progression of a single species in a single valley suggests that pairs may raise multiple broods in a year.
At any rate, as the study progresses, more will become known about the Diademed Plover than has been previously.
It was in the austral summer of 1956 that Diademed Plovers were first found at the central Chilean site in the Andes that's been referred to in this narrative.
The account of finding that bird there that day was written nicely in the book "The Birds of Chile" by A. W. Johnson, published in 1965.
The author in that book tells how he and others spent an entire day searching in the U-shaped valley.
Just as they were about to leave, a clear, penetrating whistle caught their attention.
Not 5 yards from them, on a small sand-spit was the very bird that they had been looking for, not just that full day, but for many years previously.
That first Diademed Plover, found in that valley, showed no fear, pecking here & there along the edge of a stream, as it approached its human onlookers, coming within a few feet of them, before suddenly, with another whistle and a flash of rapidly beating wings, it disappeared.
Five years later, in October 1961, with a couple other young ornithologists, Mr. Johnson went back again to the same area and they found two Diademed Plovers, both apparently males. There was no territorial behavior, and no indication of nesting.
But 6 weeks later when they went back to the same spot, they located, first, a male, and then a somewhat duller plumaged bird that they presumed to be a female, The two birds were watched for a while, but still no nest was found.
Upstream, another pair was found, but again no nest.
One of the ornithologists, however, J. D. Goodall, had stayed back with the first pair of birds, and he did find their nest, a scarcely perceptible hollow with a few short pieces of dry twigs, as an apology for a lining. It was situated on a slight ridge near the very same sand and shingle area where the searchers for the nest had carefully looked a couple hours earlier.
After the others had left that place the first time, Goodall had lain down behind a grassy hillock, watching carefully. He eventually saw the brighter-colored of the two birds leave the shallow water of the stream, run across the shingle, and sit down. Indeed, it sat down on the nest containing two eggs.
Back in the area with the second pair, as the ornithologists were leaving in their land rover, they had to brake suddenly, so as not to run over a young bird as it crouched on the ground.
As they stopped, two adult Diademed Plovers ran to and fro in front of the vehicle. Their chick took cover in the grass by the side of the track. After a while, that young bird was escorted by its parents to a nearby "safer spot" where, seemingly out of nowhere, a second chick appeared.
The two young birds could not have been more than a couple days old, and probably less.
They were a uniform gray on he head and back, with a dove-gray throat and breast, and with orange legs and feet like the adults.
The presence of the young of course explained why a nest of the second pair could not be found, and also expalined the obvious concern by those adults compared with the seeming indifference of the other pair with the eggs.
As noted, a call of the Diademed Plover is a clear, penetrating whistle. It varied at times, with a much lower-pitched, plaintive note, that could have been, the ornithologists said, the reply of the female. Twice, the duller partner of the pair was observed opening its bill and making that plaintive call.
When the pair of adults fed closely together, they "conversed" in low tones quite unlike either of their whistles.
The food of the Diademed Plover are tiny insects that they pick off the water and surrounding plants.
During one of our FONT tours, we observed a Diademed Plover feeding on such little insects, but on an old tire by the side of a roadside pool.
The Diademed Plover has been seen during FONT tours in Chile, in both the central and far-northern parts of the country.
Above & below: Diademed Plovers
during FONT tours in Chile
(photo above by BJ Rose)
Above & below: These
Diademed Plovers were
photographed during the FONT Chile Tours
in November 1990 (above), during the first of all FONT tours,
and as recently as in November 2009 (below).
The top photo of the three here was taken sometime in between,
(photo above by Alan Brady; photo below by Robert Hinz)
62 RED KNOT ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
The inclusion of the Red Knot in this list is in relation to one particular subspecies:
Calidris canutus rufa, the subspecies that breeds in far-northern Canada and migrates to southern South America, as far south as Tierra del Fuego.
A Red Knot in non-breeding plumage
(photo by Howard Eskin)
The following text is from a special feature, as it was given on the "Birdline" by Armas Hill
on the internet on June 13, 2005,
relating to RED KNOTS and other shorebirds that have staged annually over the years,
in the late-spring, along the shores of the Delaware Bay in the USA.
Those KNOTS having flown there from Patagonia in South America.
Some of this feature was on the Birdline on the Radio on June 15 & 22, 2005.
Other text of this Birdline feature, given on the internet only, on June 22, is also given here.
The feature relates to the connection in the birdlife throughout the Americas, in places that
geographically are so far apart, with the KNOTS staging in eastern North America before
nesting in Arctic Canada and then migrating to far-southern South America, year after year.
A Red Knot in breeding plumage
(Photo by Howard Eskin)
RED KNOTS IN AMERICA IN PERIL
in Chile, Argentina, Delaware & New Jersey, and northern Canada
written by Armas Hill
Thousands of miles away from us here in North America, in far-southern South America, there's a ferry that carries mostly trucks and a few cars across the Strait of Magellan.
Even though it's at the eastern end of the strait, not far from the Atlantic, it's in Chile.
In the water, by the boat, there are Commerson's Dolphins, with their beautiful black and white pattern.
Also in the water, Magellanic Penguins fish.
In the sky, King Cormorants fly, with black-and-white coloration, like the dolphins and the penguins.
In the air, above the feeding penguins, there are South American Terns emitting their raucous calls as they fly about.
Southern Giant Petrels fly by, ready to scavenge.
At a distance, over the sea, Black-browed Albatrosses continuously glide up and down in arcs.
Also at a distance, but on a beach, there's a flock of shorebirds that only recently arrived from somewhere else.
It's November. When it's spring, going into summer, at the Strait of Magellan, back in the Northern Hemisphere, from where the shorebirds came, it's fall, going into winter.
All of the other wildlife just mentioned resides year-round in the Southern Hemisphere.
But the shorebirds have gone from one summer to another to feed on the beach there, in the intertidal zone of mollusks and crustaceans.
The shorebirds in a flock are Red Knots, the subspecies Calidris canutus rufa, that inhabits the Americas.
In that area of Chile, just referred to, nearly no people live. There are no towns or cities. Even the ferry operators live in small settlements some distance away. There's no pollution, and virtually no noise, other than what is natural..
If one were to walk along the coast with the knots, just a short distance from the sound of the ferry, only surf and natural sounds such as the raucous calls of the terns would be heard.
Also in southern Argentina, but a thousand miles to the north, along the Atlantic coast, there are long and clean beaches that extend for miles. Again, many of those miles are without people, pollution, and unnatural noise.
Along some stretches of that coast, in Patagonia, there are seals and sea lions, Killer Whales and dolphins, in and beyond the surf, and Southern Right Whales in some of the bays.
Various gulls and terns are throughout.
Also along parts of that Argentine coast, there can be thousands of Manx Shearwaters (in November, having come from the European side of the North Atlantic), and groups of big, colorful Burrowing Parrots that reside in the sandy coastal bluffs by the ocean.
Along the sandy beaches below the bluffs and beyond for many miles, there are, again, flocks of shorebirds. Again, during the Austral spring and summer, they are Red Knots. Birds in these flocks until recently numbered in the thousands.
Inland, just a few kilometers, from one of those coastal locations in Argentina, there's a large farm property with many acres of natural shrubby vegetation.
There's a lot of (natural) sound there, as the terrain is filled with mockingbirds of two species that are very vocal.
There are a number of interesting landbirds, including one endemic to Argentina, the Carbonated Finch, a sparkling bird! (Yes, that's a pun.)
What has also been there is another songster, the Yellow Cardinal. (Instead of being red & black as is the Cardinal in North America, it's yellow and black.)
To see a photo of the Yellow Cardinal, go to number #12 in this list.
The farm just described is owned by a man named Senor (or Mr.) Manana.
Yes, it's true, "Senor Manana".
As the Yellow Cardinal that's been on his property is prized as a cage bird, due to its beautiful song and striking appearance, people sometimes come there to capture it.
With too much of that unfortunate activity recently, that species has now been classified by Birdlife International as "endangered", the second level after "critically threatened".
With too much of that activity, that species won't have too many more "mananas" (or "tomorrows", in Spanish).
Down the highway a bit from Sr. Manana's farm, there's a hotel, where young ornithologists have periodically stayed, the last few years, from October onwards, as they have been banding the Red Knots on the nearby beaches.
During our tours, we have stayed at that same hotel.
In conversations there at the hotel, even just a decade ago, it was not anticipated that those shorebirds there would be declining as drastically as the pretty songster, the Yellow Cardinal, down the road.
About a week before I wrote this essay (back on Sunday, June 5, in 2005), in Delaware USA, people with the Division of Fish & Wildlife of that state, were continuing their efforts to monitor the shorebirds along the Delaware Bayshore, as they had been doing every year since 1997.
Along the coast that day, near South Bowers Beach, there was a lingering group of shorebirds that contained about 600 Knots, 600 Sanderlings, 1,500 Ruddy Turnstones, and 1,500 Semipalmated Sandpipers.
During 6 hours with the birds that day, the researchers found about 50 marked, or banded, birds.
About half of them were Red Knots, marked during the previous three years (2002-2004), with some lime flags.
At least 1 was flagged in Chile (maybe by the beach by the Strait of Magellan), and 3 of the Knots were flagged in Argentina (probably on the Atlantic beach in northern Patagonia, near Senor Manana's farm).
Every year, the Red Knots, Calidris canutus rufa, make a nearly 18,000-mile round-trip journey between Argentina & Chile and far-northern North America (Arctic Canada), where they nest.
The first stage of their northbound migration includes, as it has for a long, long time, a 3 to 4 thousand mile flight (usually non-stop) to the Delaware Bay shores.
Upon their arrival, the hungry birds must feed on the Horseshoe Crab eggs, laid on the beach at that time of year, in the late-spring.
That feeding is necessary for the birds to continue, with the needed energy, on the rest of their migration, with yet another long flight to northern Canada.
The Red Knot depends almost exclusively on the Horseshoe Crab eggs to successfully complete the migration to their nesting grounds.
Above: a mass of Horseshoe Crabs on a tidal shoreline of eastern North America
Below: a single Horseshoe Crab
(upper photo by Howard Eskin; lower photo by Rise Hill)
The Red Knot population, visiting the Delaware Bay shores in the spring, has
numbered more than 150,000 birds.
Recent surveys, however, have shown that number has dropped dramatically to an estimated 15,000 birds.
In the last 10 years, according to those studies, this Red Knot population has declined more than 90%.
Surveys in the Delaware Bay area have fluctuated from about 16,000 Red Knots in 2003 down to about 13,000 in 2004, then up to about 15,000 in 2005.
Added to this is a sad statistic relating to a recent survey in South America. In 2005, there, only 17,600 knots were counted, a decline of 40% from the previous year.
The Red Knot, in the Americas, may now be said to be the most endangered shorebird population in the world.
Not just the Red Knot, but 5 other species of shorebirds, are dependent upon the horseshoe crab eggs along the Delaware Bayshore.
In 2005, according to New Jersey's chief endangered species biologist, surveys of Horseshoe Crab eggs in New Jersey and Delaware indicated, where as normally 4,000 eggs are laid per meter, the count was about 1,500. That was not good.
Also, in both New Jersey and Delaware, Horseshoe Crab eggs have been harvested, with annual harvests being about 150,000.
Thus, in certain years, there have been 300,000 less Horseshoe Crabs, depleting further the food supply needed by the Red Knot and 5 other species of shorebirds.
A grouping of 11 organizations have joined together to petition the state governments of New Jersey and Delaware, with a proposal of 4 specific actions urgently needed to save the situation, due to all of the evidence that there is of a "death spiral" for the Red Knot.
The 11 organizations are these:
the American Bird Conservancy, the American Littoral Society, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Defenders of Wildlife, the Delaware Audubon Society, the Delaware Riverkeeper, the National Audubon Society, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the NJ Public Interest Research Group, and the Sierra Club.
The 4 actions:
1) institution of a moratorium on Horseshoe Crab harvesting
2) support efforts in surrounding states to enact such a moratorium and measures to conserve the shared resource
3) support efforts to federally list the Red Knot, Calidris canutus rufa, under the Endangered Species Act
4) continue bay-wide efforts to reduce human harassment (of all kinds) of foraging shorebirds.
Truly time is of the essence for helping the Red Knot, to be as it has been in the Americas. Without such help, again, there simply may not be that many more "mananas" for the bird, on the beaches not that from from Senor Manana's farm.
Now, some more information regarding the history of shorebirds including the Red Knot along the Delaware Bay, as given by Armas Hill in the Birdline Feature on the internet, on Birdline Delaware and the Philadelphia Birdline, on June 22, 2005, as a continuation of the June 13 feature that preceded it:
It was noted that in 2004, survey-work indicated that the late-spring staging population of the Red Knot along the Delaware Bayshore was about 13,000 birds.
And it was noted that was considerably less than what the population was a couple decades previously.
It was also noted last time that the Red Knot is just one of about a half-dozen species of shorebirds that stage in the late-spring along the shores of the Delaware Bay.
Over 90 per cent of the shorebirds that flock in the late-spring along the Delaware Bay are of 4 species: Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, and Sanderling.
On May 29, 2006, this flock of Semipalmated Sandpipers
was along the Delaware Bay at Port Mahon, in Delaware.
(Photograph by Howard Eskin)
Smaller numbers of
Short-billed Dowitchers and Dunlin also occur. That makes 6 species of
shorebirds in addition to Laughing Gulls that feed on the Horseshoe
Crab eggs on the beach. Also, about a dozen
other species of shorebirds occur in the area in the spring.
(photo by Howard Eskin)
During the years 1982 to 1995,
in the spring, as many as 272,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers were counted on
both shores (Delaware & New Jersey)
of the Delaware Bay.
The high-day of the year, during that period, averaged 112,000.
After 1988, no day-count exceeded 100,000.
These Semipalmated Sandpipers non-stop 2,700 miles from Surinam, in northern South America, to the Delaware Bay shores. It is an astonishing journey, really, for those small birds - smaller yet, weighing less than an ounce when they arrive.
Once by the Bay, they fuel up on the Horseshoe Crab eggs, as they must, to continue their migration north. This feeding is also necessary, in the same way, for the same reason, for the other shorebird species about to mentioned.
During the years just referred to, the annual high-day for Ruddy Turnstones averaged 70,000.
It was as high as 108,000 in 1989.
The Ruddy Turnstones by the Delaware Bay in May probably represent about three-quarters of the eastern North American population. These birds winter from South Carolina south to southern South America, along the Atlantic Coast.
With their sturdy bills, Turnstones not only turn stones, they also dig holes in the sand to expose more Horseshoe Crab eggs. They thus provide what could be called a foraging service for other shorebirds.
Regarding Red Knots, most of which migrate to the Delaware Bay from as far south as Tierra del Fuego (in far-southern South America), nearly as many as 100,000 have been counted during one day (96,000). The average high-day for the species during the survey period (from 1982 to 1995) was 48,000.
Many of the Sanderlings that stage by the Delaware Bay in May come mostly from wintering-quarters in Brazil. But some also come from the sandy coasts of Peru and Chile on the Pacific side of South America. A few winter further north, in for example, Florida.
The maximum high-count for Sanderlings by the Delaware Bay in May started to decline in the early 1980's. From 56,000 in 1982, it dropped steadily to a level of 10,000 in 1993, 1994, & 1995.
That decline followed a substantial decrease of perhaps 80 per cent of the Sanderling population along the East Coast of the USA from 1972 to 1982, continuing the downward spiral.
Generally, over the years, in the Delaware Bay area, Sanderlings have been more to the south, closer to the mouth of the Bay.
To continue our look back at shorebirds by the Delaware Bay, and to continue our effort to get a good perspective of what has been, we'll go now to the writings, done back in 1937, by one of the foremost ornithologists of that region in those days, Witmer Stone. His work, published that year, was entitled "Bird Studies at Old Cape May".
What Witmer Stone did NOT refer to in that work were large flocks of shorebirds as just mentioned, being by the Delaware Bay on the New Jersey side, at places such as Reed's Beach, where since then such large flocks have been.
One could assume, wrongly perhaps, that those flocks of Knots and Turnstones and the like were there, but that Mr. Stone did not know about them. However, when reading through his book, it is apparent that ornithologists of that day did know what was about, and so another assumption can be made that such large flocks simply weren't there.
What Witmer Stone did refer to was the rampant shooting of shorebirds that formerly took place along that part of the coast of eastern North America.
The Red Knot, he said, was known to the gunners as the "Robin Snipe" or "Red-breasted Snipe".
It, along with the Dowitcher (in those days a single species), before the shooting was abolished, were among the most desirable of the shorebirds from the gunner's standpoint, as they both decoyed easily. Thus, they both, according to Stone, "nearly approached extermination".
The accounts in Stone's 1937 book refer to Knots occurring in southern New Jersey, in the early part of the 20th Century, in small groups of 150 or so, or in "low numbers" of less than a hundred. He relates that a gunner, for instance, in late-May 1907, shot 29 of them in Cape May County.
Something very important in relation to shorebirds happened in 1913. That year, the Federal Migratory Bird Law went into effect and the season was CLOSED on ALL shorebirds except the Woodcock, Black-bellied Plover, Golden Plover, and Snipe (known then as the Wilson's Snipe, as it is now known again today), and the two species of Yellowlegs.
In 1926, the two species of Plovers were put on the protected list, and in 1927 the Yellowlegs followed them.
The season on Woodcock and Snipe, the only two "shorebirds" remaining on the game list, was subsequently reduced to one month with a bag limit.
Populations of the shorebirds of coastal New Jersey were monitored in the late 1920's and early 1930's.
During that period, let's pick a year - 1931.
For that year, here's a ranking of SHOREBIRD SPECIES in New Jersey, during their northward spring migration in May, listing the most common first, and then those less so in descending order:
1 - Semipalmated Sandpiper
2 - Ruddy Turnstone
3 - Black-bellied Plover
4 - Semipalmated Plover
5 - Greater Yellowlegs
6 - Sanderling
7 - Least Sandpiper
8 - Dowitcher (nearly all Short-billed of course, but in those days as noted, it was a single species)
9 - Whimbrel (was then called the Hudsonian Curlew)
10 - RED KNOT
11 - Dunlin (was called then the Red-backed Sandpiper)
12 - Lesser Yellowlegs
13 - Western Sandpiper
A Dunlin surrounded by Semipalmated Sandpipers.
The Dunlin has been called the "Red-backed Sandpiper".
(photo by Howard Eskin)
The following shorebirds, overall during the period 1929-1934, were classified in New Jersey as "abundant" or "very common":
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sedmipalmated Plover, Sanderling, Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlwgs.
Notice, now, that the Red Knot was in the second category, those classified as "common".
In that grouping, there were these species:
Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Red Knot, Western Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs (less common during the northbound migration than during the southbound), Whimbrel, Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper.
The author Peter Matthiessen wrote a fine book about shorebirds, published in 1967, and entitled "The Wind Birds".
In it, he also alluded to the widespread shooting of shorebirds that was referred to by Witmer Stone. That shooting was very prevalent in the late 1800's. It also continued in the early 1900's, even as some species started to show significant declines.
Matthiessen wrote that "under the circumstances, it's a wonder that any shorebirds survived into the 20th Century". They were shot in numbers, and they were trapped.
There was even a practice of "fire-lightning", that was commonly done, for example on Long Island NY, when after dark resting flocks of shorebirds, blinded by a bright beam, stood by while men stepped out from punts and wrung their necks.
Among the gunners of that era, Knots and Dowitchers, as noted earlier, were favorites. So were Golden Plovers and Eskimo Curlews, not only because of their fine taste and great numbers (yes, even so for the Curlew), but also because they were unsuspicious to a fault. The Eskimo Curlew would circle back over the guns, calling out to its fallen companions. That was a habit shared by the Dunlin, Dowitcher, and other species. The Dunlin was called "the simpleton" by Long Island hunters, reflecting the low esteem in which its brain was held.
After the legal protection for shorebirds came to be, as noted in 1913, for a number of species, through the 20th Century, things improved. For the Eskimo Curlew, it was too late.
Yes, shorebirds that at one time existed by the thousands, can in time disappear.
The following is a passage from Alexander Wilson's "American Ornithology", written in the early 19th Century:
"Everyone who has been on the shore, on a day gleaming and cloudy, may have seen masses of these birds at a distance, appearing like a dark and swiftly moving cloud, suddenly vanishing, but then in a second, appearing at some distance, glowing with a silvery light almost too intense to gaze upon. These are the consequences of the simultaneous motions of the flock, at once changing their position, showing the dark gray of their backs, or the pure white of their underparts."
With these words, Alexander Wilson was writing about the Knot (in its winter plumage). In his day, the bird was called the "Ash-colored Sandpiper".
The scientific name, "Calidris canutus", refers to King Canute, who loved to eat it (the species does have a European population).
4 books, written over the years, have already been noted in this essay.
Another one is: "The Flight of the Red Knot" by Brian Harrington and Charles Flowers, published in 1996.
If you can get it, it's interesting, and with good background about the Knot.
FONT (Focus On Nature Tours) goes to southern South America, to Argentina & Chile. Although people don't normally travel to the opposite end of the world to see birds that migrate from their homelands, it is a nice experience to see the places where these birds go. And it's fascinating in a way to share the long migration of the KNOTS and other SHOREBIRDS.
Places to be visited in southern South America referred to in this bulletin include:
PATAGONIAN ARGENTINA: the coastal region with the miles of beaches, and Senor Manana's farm (with the YELLOW CARDINAL), north of the Valdez Peninsula, and TIERRA DEL FUEGO, in far-southern ARGENTINA.
During FONT Argentina tours, in addition to the Yellow Cardinal and Red Knot, other birds and wildlife in the preceding text have been seen, including:
Magellanic Penguin (including a colony with a million), Southern Giant Petrel, Black-browed Albatross, Manx Shearwater, South American Tern, Burrowing Parrot, Carbonated Finch, and Southern Right Whale, Killer Whale (or Orca), and seals and sea-lions..
And that's just some of the nature that we've observed!
Magellanic Penguin and Black-browed Albatross are elsewhere in this list, as is the Yellow Cardinal with a photograph.
Click here for: UPCOMING FONT TOURS IN ARGENTINA
63 HUDSONIAN GODWIT ______ in Patagonia: Argentina, Chile
No longer classified by Birdlife International as a "near-threatened species", the Hudsonian Godwit continues in this listing, however, as it was so categorized for a number of years, and the species does have an interesting story.
The Hudsonian Godwit is an extraordinary migratory species, undertaking two long journeys each year, between northern Canada & Alaska where it nests during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and southern South America, in Argentina & Chile, where it spends the summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Hudsonian Godwit is highly gregarious, often in great flocks of only its own kind. Such flocks are in Patagonia during the austral summer, from September to March, on northern Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, and on Chiloe Island in Chile, where the birds feed on mudflats, searching especially for small molluscs and crustaceans.
Over two-thirds of the entire population of Hudsonian Godwits spends the austral summer on northern Tierra del Fuego, with thousands of them along the shores of Bahia San Sebastion.
About one-quarter of the global population of Hudsonian Godwits spend the austral summer on Chiloe Island where they are on mudflats that are expansive due to a significant difference between high and low tides.
The large flocks of Hudsonian Godwits on Chiloe Island, that have been seen during FONT Chile Tours there, are generally composed of just the godwits. Hundreds, up to thousands of them, can be seen at one place, at one time.
Above : a single Hudsonian Godwit
(photo by Howard Eskin)
Below: Hudsonian Godwits at a mudflat on Chiloe Island,
photographed during a FONT tour in Chile
(photo by Frank Stermitz)
64 FUEGIAN SNIPE ______ in Patagonia: Argentina
65 IMPERIAL SNIPE ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
66 COLOMBIAN SCREECH OWL ______ in the Andes, Ecuador
During the April 2013 FONT tour in Ecuador, a Colombian Screech Owl was seen.
67 BLACK-THIGHED PUFFLEG ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
68 HOARY PUFFLEG ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
69 TOUCAN BARBET ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
No longer in the Family CAPITONIDAE with the other American barbets, the Toucan Barbet is now placed in a family by itself, SEMNORNITHIDAE, being closely related to both toucans and barbets.
During the April 2013 FONT tour in Ecuador, the Toucan Barbet was nicely seen.
A Toucan Barbet during the FONT Ecuador Tour in April
(photo by Marie Gardner)
70 PLATE-BILLED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
The Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan has been seen nicely during FONT Ecuador Tours on the western side of the Andes.
(photo by Mark Felber in April 2013
at the Bellevista Reserve, in Ecuador)
71 GRAY-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
The Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan has been seen nicely during FONT Ecuador Tours on the eastern side of the Andes.
72 YELLOW-HEADED MANAKIN ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
73 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia
74 ORANGE-BANDED FLYCATCHER ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
Nephelomyias (formerly Myiophobus) lintoni
75 OCHRE-BREASTED ANTPITTA ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
The Ochre-breasted Antpitta was seen well during the April 2013 FONT Ecuador Tour on the western side of the Andes.
An Ochre-breasted Antpitta during the FONT tour in
Ecuador in April 2013.
(photo by Marie Gardner)
76 PERUVIAN ANTPITTA ______
the Andes: Ecuador
77 CRESCENT-FACED ANTPITTA ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
78 MAQUIS (or IQUICO) CANASTERO ______ in the Andes: Argentina, Bolivia
79 EQUATORIAL GRAYTAIL ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
80 STAR-CHESTED (or FULVOUS-DOTTED) TREERUNNER ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
81 GREATER SCYTHEBILL ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
82 BEAUTIFUL JAY ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
83 BAR-WINGED WOOD WREN ______ in the Andes: Peru, Ecuador
84 GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER ______ in the Andes: Venezuela, Ecuador
85 GRAY-THROATED WARBLER ______ in the Andes: Venezuela
86 GIANT CONEBILL ______ in the Andes: Ecuador, Chile
87 BLACK-AND-WHITE TANAGER ______ in the Andes: Peru, Ecuador
88 PURPLISH-MANTLED TANAGER ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
89 MASKED SALTATOR ______ in the Andes: Ecuador
A NEW SPECIES described recently, in 2013:
90 PINCOYA STORM PETREL ______ in Patagonia: Chile, Argentina
Oceannites pincoyae has been described too recently (in January 2013) for assessment, as of now, by Birdlife International as to its status as a threatened, or near-threatened species.
But it does have a restricted geographic range and its total population has been estimated as being only from 5,000 to 10,000 individuals, thus categorizing it in some way as a "rare species".
THE FOLLOWING RELATES TO THE SPECIES HAVING BEEN SEEN DURING A FONT TOUR
BEFORE IT WAS DESCRIBED,
ALONG WITH TEXT AS TO HOW THE NEW SPECIES CAME TO BE,
information compiled & written by Armas Hill, the leader of the FONT Chile Tour
during which the PINCOYA STORM PETREL was seen.
During a ferry-boat crossing
(in the photo above) to Chiloe
Island, on December 1, 2009,
as part of the FONT Nov/Dec '09 Tour in Chile, some storm-petrels were noticed that appeared "different".
They had more white than would normally be seen on the Wilson's Storm Petrel, thus appearing to have more contrast, with white upper wingbars, a seemingly pale underwing, and even, most oddly, apparently white bellies.
What we did not know at the time was that earlier that same year, another group of birders (from Ireland: Seamus Enright, Michael O'Keefe & friends), in waters in much that same area, also observed such similar storm-petrels.
Since then, this news:
In February 2011, during a five-person multi-national expedition led by British seabird expert Peter Harrison, 12 of the "mystery storm petrels" were captured at sea near Puerto Montt, Chile. By so doing, that team has been able to confirm the existence of a new species.
According to Harrison, "These birds appear to be a new species, as they are so different from any other storm petrels we know." There are 22 known species of storm petrels worldwide.
The following narrative, from the blog "Birding Abroad", relates more about the news:
Recent sightings of unidentified storm petrels in Seno Reloncavi, south of Puerto Montt, Chile, have been confirmed as a new species, as recently published in "Dutch Birding" (O'Keefe et al 2010).
A team of biologists led (as noted above) by British seabird expert Peter Harrison, has just completed an expedition to that area of Chile.
The expedition followed Harrison's earlier examination of two skins of an Oceanites sp. housed in the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Those two skins had been described by Pearman as the first Argentine records of the Elliot's Storm Petrel, Oceanites gracilis galapogoensis (Pearman 2000).
On examining the specimens, Harrison concluded that the two originally collected at El Bolson, Rio Negro province, Argentina, in February 1972 and November 1983 represented a hitherto undescribed taxon and were probably the mysterious unidentified storm petrels of Puerto Montt, Chile, which is just 70 kilometers west of El Bolson.
Two members of the team of biologists, Chris Gaskin and Karen Baird from New Zealand, were both involved in at-sea captures and searches for the breeding location of the recently rediscovered New Zealand Storm Petrel (Gaskin & Baird 2005, Stephenson et al. 2008).
The Chilean expedition spent 4 days at sea in the Seno Reloncavi area, where they made use of chum or berley (fish scraps) to attract seabirds within range of the specially designed net-guns. These were critical to the success of the expedition and were developed in New Zealand for the capture of the New Zealand Storm Petrel.
Over the four days at sea, over 1,500 sightings of the new Oceanites species were recorded.
To enable the scientific description of the new species, the 12 birds (as noted above) were captured for the collection of biometric data and samples of blood and feathers taken for genetic work.
The new species would appear to be most closely related to the Elliot's Storm Petrel, Oceanites gracilis. But in appearance it is intermediate between the Wilson's Storm Petrel and the New Zealand Storm Petrel.
It shows a distinctive pale upper wing crescent and a prominent white bar across the underwing coverts.
Unlike typical Elliot's Storm Petrels, the white feathering in the ventral area is much more subdued and restricted and does not extend toward the upper breast. The wing measurements are also very different and show no overlap with the mainland Elliot's Storm Petrel.
The expedition team estimates a population of 5,000 to 10,000 birds in the Seno Reloncavi area, where the new taxon appears to be the most abundant of the resident seabirds, with flocks of several hundred individuals at chum slicks.
The timing of the expedition appears to have coincided with the fledging period as juveniles were among the captured birds, suggesting that breeding occurs in the Seno Reloncavi area, possibly beginning in November.
A wider search of the Seno Relanocavi and Golfo de Ancud area needs to be undertaken in both summer and winter.
Further analysis of feather and blood samples is expected to confirm this discovery and a full scientific publication is in preparation by the expedition team.
That analysis has since been done, and in January 2013, the new species was described, the Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceaniites pincoyae, published that month in "The Auk", the publication of the AOU, the American Ornithologists Union. A color illustration of the new storm petrel is on the cover of that issue.
The name "Pincoya" commemorates a female water spirit in Chilote mythology, a mixture of myths, legends, and beliefs of the people who live on the island of Chiloe in southern Chile.
That mythology reflects the importance of the sea in the life of the Chilotes (those who live on Chiloe Island).
Chilote mythology is based on a mixture of the indigenous religions of the Chonos and Huiliches who have long been inhabitants on Chiloe, together with legends and superstitions brought by the Spanish when they arrived there in 1567, thus beginning a fusion of elements that would form a separate mythology.
That Chilote mythology flourished, due to the isolation and remoteness of the island culture from the more "mainstream" society of the Spanish and other Europeans elsewhere in Chile,
In that mythology, the "Pincoya" is a female "water spirit" of the Chilotan Seas. said to have long blond hair, and to be of incomparable beauty, to be cheerful and sensual, and to rise from the depths of the sea.
Naked and pure, she personifies the fertility of marine species. Through her ritual dance she provides the residents of Chiloe with either an abundance or deficiency of fish and seafood.
If she performs her dance facing the sea, it means that the shore will have an abundance of fish.
When she dances facing the mountains, with her back to the sea, seafood will be scarce.
Chilote mythology is appreciative of the "Pincoya" who is believed to be good, beautiful, and humanitarian.
According to legend, Pincoya is the daughter of Millalobo, who was the "king of the sea"' in Chilote mythology and a human named Huenchula.
Over the years, there have been a number of Focus On Nature Tours to the island of Chiloe, where both the nature and the culture have been enjoyed and appreciated.
On the island during those FONT tours, a wonderful assortment of birds and mammals have been seen.
Birds have included colonies of penguins and other seabirds, rafts of swans and other waterbirds, large flocks of godwits, as well as parakeets, hummingbirds, tapaculos, and Magellanic Woodpeckers and other birds of the fascinating Nothofogus forest.
Mammals have included the rare Marine Otter, or Chungungo, and the diminutive deer called the Pudu.
photographs taken during
the FONT tour on Chiloe Island in November 2011
(photos by Frank Stermitz)
Beneath the photos below is what was written in the FONT website in 2010, relating to the "Dutch Birding" article mentioned above.
These photos were taken in nearly the same Chilean waters
a few months before our Nov/Dec '09 FONT tour,
taken in February 2009 by Michael O'Keeffe
This "mystery storm-petrel" was seen during the FONT Chile tour
on December 1, 2009 from the ferry to Chiloe Island.
It has since been described, in January 2013,
as a new species, the Pincoya Storm Petrel.
What follows now,
regarding these storm-petrels in southern Chilean waters, is from a paper that
was authored in 2009, by Jim Dowdall, Seamus Enright, Kieran Fahy, Jeff
Gilligan, Gerard Lillie, and Michael O'Keeffe, for DUTCH BIRDING (published in
The most striking feature of the birds was the extent of white in the plumage underneath, suggesting initially one of the Fregetta storm-petrels. However, other features seemed to rule out that option, including the extent of dark on the flanks and the prominent carpal bar.
The birds appeared to have characteristics making them Oceanites storm-petrels, similar but perhaps slightly stockier of the chilensis Wilson's Storm Petrel. But the whitish upper-wing and under-wing panels appeared more striking than chilensis. The white on the rump appeared to wrap completely around the vent/lower belly, although from photos it is hard to rule out the presence of perhaps some dark feathering on the sides and the center of the vent.
Below, some answers to a couple questions that have been asked during the years, from 2009 to 2013:
Why have these birds apparently gone undocumented until now?
Other visiting birders, in recent years, in the coastal waters south of Puerto Montt, and from the ferry crossing to/from Chiloe Island, have noted similar birds.
For example, Peter Harrison first encountered them while working onboard the tour vessel M.V. Linblad Explorer, out of Puerto Montt in 1983 and 1984. Harrison also saw the birds again in later years. On two occasions, he remarked that he "was lucky enough to have one land on the deck during the night and was able to give them careful scrutiny. Using his only reference (Murphy, 1936), and based on measurements he obtained, Harrison concluded the birds to be chilensis.
The enigmatic chilensis race of the Wilson's Storm Petrel has had a checkered history.
Robert Cushman Murphy in the "Oceanic Birds of South America" (1936) described how the taxa Oceanites oceanicus chilensis was inadvertently first published nomen nudum by W.B. Alexander in "Birds of the Oceans" (1928).
The taxa was later described in detail by Murphy (1936) and referred to as the "Fuegian Petrel", a new subspecies of the Wilson's Storm Petrel.
Subsequent to that, and for reasons not quite understood, the taxa was "dropped" as a race of the Wilson's. Until very recently, only two races of Wilson's Storm Petrels, oceanicus and exasperates, were recognized in the literature, including by Harrison (1983, and in subsequent editions).
Interestingly, in relation to the Wilson's Storm Petrel, Harrison has noted that "Cape Horn birds have pale vents", again apparently relating to chilensis, noting also some pale mottling on the lower belly.
Onley and Scofield (2007) have recently re-established chilensis as a race of the Wilson's Storm Petrel.
So, a conclusion could be that the storm-petrels, with the white on their vents/bellies in the Chilean waters south of Puerto Montt were undocumented in part due to the lack of understanding of the form chilensis also occurring in those waters, and probably most importantly, they were undocumented because simply not many people were aware of them.
The storm petrels, with the white apparently more extensive than chilensis, have been observed south of Puerto Montt, in the channel north of Chiloe Island (where they were seen during the 2009 FONT tour), and also in the Gulf of Penas, approximately 500 kilometers south of Puerto Montt. It is therefore suggested that these birds are relatively localized and sedentary,
Could these birds really be a new species?
The most conservative explanation was that they would simply be a previously un-described plumage or morph of one of the species already known from the region.
The combination of plumage features of the new storm petrel perhaps most closely matches the Elliot's Storm Petrel. But generally that species generally has much more white on the upper belly and generally more dark feathering on the vent, creating a distinctive divide between the white belly and the rump.
Also, the waters south of Puerto Montt seem surely to be too far removed, so far south of the range of the Elliot's, which is a warm-water species, and thus not apt to occur to cold southern Chilean waters.
Very interestingly in relation to the new storm petrel, repeating here what has already been noted earlier:
in 2000 a note was published regarding two specimens of storm petrels that were taken (back in 1972 & 1983) from El Bolson, in the province of Rio Negro, in southern (Patagonian) Argentina.
They were assigned to the northerly race of the Elliot's Storm Petrel, galapogoensis. They erroneously represented the first (and the only) records of Elliot's Storm Petrel for Argentina (where they would have been assumed to have been from the South Atlantic.)
The wing measurements of the new "white-bellied" storm petrels from south of Puerto Montt in Chile (now, the Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceanites pincoyae) indicate those birds to be larger than gracilis Elliot's, and within the range of chilensis or galapogoensis (with however, as already noted, their plumage features not matching either of those taxa).
The El Bolson (Argentina) birds are only marginally longer winged than the Puerto Montt Oceanites pincoyae birds, as studied by Harrison in the hand.
It has been determined that the two El Bolson specimens are examples of the Oceanites pincoyae storm petrels of the waters south of Puerto Montt, and not the Elliot's.
Returning again to the chilensis race of the Wilson's Storm Petrel, some observers have been of the opinion that it may in actuality be closer to the Elliot's than to the Wilson's.
With the new "white bellied" storm petrels (Oceanites pincoyae) from south of Puerto Montt having now received analysis, it may be worthwhile to re-think, and thus give further study, the entire storm-petrel taxa in the region of southern Chile.
It is hard not to draw certain parallels between this story of storm petrels in southern Chile and that of the New Zealand Storm Petrel, Oceanites maorianus, that was only recently, in 2003, found to be alive and well.
Indeed, the "white-bellied" Puerto Montt/Chiloe Island birds, now Oceanites pincoyae, share a startling similarity with that rare species that lives on the far-opposite side of the South Pacific Ocean.
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