Birding between forests and wetlands: Birding in Lampa Vilches areas, Chile

Published by Albatross Birding & Nature Tours In Chile (contact AT

Participants: Bob Proniewych and Fernando Medrano



This is the report of a private tour designed for Bob Proniewych, serious birder from Long Island, who came to the Southern cone by first time, after many birding trips around the world. Our target was had good views of 14 species: South American Painted-snipe, Chestnut-throated huet-huet, Chilean Pigeon, Magellanic woodpecker, Burrowing parrot, Austral parakeet, Rufous-legged owl, White-throated treerunner, Chucao tapaculo, Spectacled duck, Des murs’ Wiretail, Patagonian tyrant, Fire-eyed diucon and Patagonian Sierra-finch.

With this purposes, we had to go to Vilches area! The Vilches area is the northern section of the Andean temperate forest in Chile, so that allowed us watch the majority of this species in their northern distribution range. We knew that Tapaculo’s species are very vocal, but hard-to-see, so we put special effort on this species.

Overall we had good views of 71 species, including some highlights as South American Painted-snipe, Chestnut-throated huet-huet, Magellanic woodpecker, Burrowing parrot, Austral parakeet, Chucao tapaculo, Magellanic tapaculo, Spectacled duck, Torrent duck, Des murs’ Wiretail, Patagonian tyrant, Fire-eyed diucon and White-throated hawk.


Day 1

Our first target was the South-american Painted-snipe, a lifer for Bob. With this purpose, we started our trip on November 13rd from the airport to the Lampa wetlands. We started watching the first lifers for Bob from the car! On the road to our first stopping place -Puente Negro- we saw Common diuca-finch and Picui ground-dove. Puente Negro is an important area for breeding birds (specially Brown-hooded gull and Black-necked stilt), so we tried to disturbe as less as possible, and after a good view of 3 South-american painted snipe we left this place.

The second place was Santa Inés, where we saw five cinereous harriers, and the widespread -but locally rare- Short-eared owl. Not bad at all! In this place we called to the Black rail, but it did not call back.

After that, we went to the Batuco wetland to get good view of some ducks: We saw Chiloe wigeon, Lake duck, Yellow-billed pintail, Speckled teal, Cinnamon teal and Red shoveler, some of them with their chicks. We get excellent views of all these species through the scope.

We knew that we had a long driving from Lampa to Vilches area, so we started our trip at midday. After 400 kilometers, we arrived to Colbún lake. In the first stopping place, we watched our first Chilean pigeons, flying above our heads. Here, we had good views of three Fire-eyed diucon roosting on the wires. Here, he had a first -bad- view of the Des murs’ wiretail, but actively responding to our calling.

Looking through the top of the canopy of the hills, we had two surprises: A peregrine falcon and an Osprey! The osprey is a regular - but very rare - species in southern Chile.

After, we went to the eastern side of the lake, and there we had excellent views with the scope of two of the main targets: Burrowing parrots and Spectacled ducks

After an overnight-flight and a whole day birding-driving, we reached our comfortable hostel in Vilches, providing us time to rest and get organized for the forthcomings days.

Our last birding parade that day was in the Altos de Lircay National Reserve entrance, trying to watch the Rufous-legged owl. Although we call it, and it responses, we did’nt see it.

Day 2

After an enjoyable night on Hosteria Vilches and a really good breakfast, we walked from the Altos de Lircay National Reserve entrance to the Aliwenmahuida trail, crossing by good quality forests and understory. In this place, we heared some distant tapaculos (Chucao and Huet-huet), and parakeets. In the natural viewpoint of this trail, and while we were enjoying the incredible landscape some austral parakeets appeared overflying the forest.

Before of leaving this trail, we heared a Patagonian tyrant, and after a quick play-back call, we watched this little tyrant in its northern breeding range. We visited the “Concones” trail, where we saw the White-throated hawk. This is a difficult-to-see species in this place.

With this already done, we wanted to watch the Magellanic woodpecker. To do that, we had to walk by the main hiking trail. After one mile, we heared the evidences: a distant tapping on the forest. We followed the sound, and we saw a beautiful couple of them. Close of that place, we followed the call of a Chestnut-throated huet-huet, on a covered stream. After some play-back calls, we saw it walking around the forest. A good target had been reached!Then, we came back to the Aliwenmahuida trail, to look for our last diurnal target: the Chucao tapaculo. We saw it close to a covered stream, with native bamboo (Quila).

When we were leaving the National reserve, we saw two beautiful reptile species: The Southern growler, and two Thin tree lizards.

After another great meal served in the hostel, we get out again to look for the Rufous-legged owls in the trail “Las tacitas” and in the entrance of the park. Although we tried two hours, in four different places, we just heared them distant, but they were not responding actively. Then, we aborted mission in order to priorize an early beginning in the next day.

Day 3

We started this day birding on the Hosteria Vilches, watching Green-backed firecrown and White-throated treerunner. After a super-b breakfast, we drove to the Colbún lake, to improve our views of the wiretail. We tried several times, and finally Bob had a good view, entering in the vegetation while I was calling it from the edge of the patch. In that place, we also walked along the edge of the lake, and we had good views of three Upland goose, Black-faced ibis, Great grebe and White-tufted grebe. After that, we started our return to the hotel “Diego de Almagro” in Providencia.

Species Lists

Taxonomic order and notes follows South American Classification Committee
Detailed birdlist available at eBird


1. Upland goose – Chloephaga poliocephala
2. Torrent duck – Merganetta armata
3. Spectacled Duck – Speculanas specularis
4. Chiloe Wigeon - Anas sibilatrix
5. Yellow-billed teal – Anas flavirostris
6. Yellow-billed Pintail - Anas georgica
7. Cinnamon teal – Anas cyanoptera
8. Red shoveler – Anas platalea
9. Lake duck – Oxyura vittata


10. California Quail - Callipepla californica


11. Neotropic Cormorant - Phalacrocorax brasilianus


12. White-tufted grebe – Rollandia rolland
13. Great grebe – Podiceps major


14. Cattle egret – Bubulcus ibis
15. Cocoi heron – Ardea cocoi
16. Great egret – Ardea alba
17. Snowy egret – Egretta thula


18. Black-faced Ibis – Theristicus melanopis


19. Black Vulture - Coragyps atratus
20. Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura


21. White-tailed Kite – Elanus leucurus
22. Cinereous harrier – Circus cinereus
23. Variable Hawk - Geranoaetus polyosoma
24. White-throated hawk – Buteo albigula
25. Osprey – Pandion haliaetus


26. Red-gartered coot – Fulica armillata
27. Red-fronted coot – Fulica rufifrons


28. Southern Lapwing - Vanellus chilensis


29. Black-necked stilt – Himantopus mexicanus


30. South American Painted-snipe – Nycticryphes semicollaris


31. Brown-hooded Gull – Chroicephalus maculipennis
32. Kelp Gull - Larus dominicanus


33. Rock pigeon – Columba livia
34. Chilean Pigeon – Patagioenas araucana
35. Eared Dove - Zenaida auriculata
36. Picui ground-dove – Columbina picui


37. Burrowing Parrot – Cyanoliseus patagonicus
38. Austral Parakeet – Enycognathus ferrugineus


39. Austral Pygmy-Owl - Glaucidium nana – Just heard
40. Rufous-legged Owl – Strix rufipes – Just heard


41. Band-winged Nightjar – Systellura longirostris – Just heard


42. Green-backed Firecrown - Sephanoides sephaniodes


43. Striped Woodpecker - Veniliornis lignarius – Just heard
44. Magellanic Woodpecker – Campephilus magellanicus


45. Chimango Caracara - Milvago chimango
46. American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
47. Peregrine falcon – Falco peregrinus


48. Chestnut-throated Huet-huet – Pteroptochos castaneus
49. Chucao Tapaculo – Scelorchilus rubecula
50. Magellanic Tapaculo - Scytalopus magellanicus


51. Thorn-tailed Rayadito - Aphrastura spinicauda
52. Des Murs's Wiretail - Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii
53. White-throated Treerunner – Pygarrhichas albogularis
54. Plain-mantled tit-spinetail – Leptasthenura aegithaloides


55. White-crested Elaenia – Elaenia albiceps
56. Tufted Tit-Tyrant - Anairetes parulus
57. Spectacled tyrant – Hymenops perspicillatus
58. Fire-eyed Diucon - Xolmis pyrope
59. Patagonian Tyrant - Colorhamphus parvirostris


60. Blue-and-white Swallow - Pygochelidon cyanoleuca
61. Chilean Swallow - Tachycineta meyeni


62. House Wren - Troglodytes aedon


63. Austral Thrush - Turdus falcklandii


64. Chilean Mockingbird - Mimus thenca


65. Rufous-collared Sparrow - Zonotrichia capensis
66. Patagonian Sierra-Finch – Phrygilus patagonicus
67. Mourning Sierra-Finch - Phrygilus fruticeti
68. Common Diuca-Finch - Diuca diuca
69. Grassland Yellow-Finch - Sicalis luteola


70. Black-chinned Siskin - Spinus barbatus


71. Long-tailed Meadowlark - Sturnella loyca
72. Austral Blackbird - Curaeus curaeus
73. Yellow-winged blackbird – Agelasticus thilius
74. Shiny Cowbird - Molothrus bonariensis


75. House Sparrow - Passer domesticus


1. European Hare- Lepus europaeus


1. Ribboned lizard – Liolaemus lemniscatus
2. Thin tree lizard – Liolaemus tenuis
3. Southern growler – Pristidactylus torquatus