Many-colored Chaco-Finch (Nick Athanas)

Northwest Argentina
(A Tropical Birding custom tour)

4 - 17 December 2006

By: Nick Athanas
All photos by the author.

This was our first tour to Argentina, a custom tour designed to search for all the endemics and specialties of Northwest Argentina. We tried to cram a lot of sites into a short amount of time, but the birds cooperated making it a fun and successful trip; we plan to offer a similar itinerary as one of our standard tours starting in late 2008.

December is later than most tours to this area, but the weather was still fairly good overall. Most areas were quite dry, and when it did rain, mainly in Calilegua NP and the Sierra de Córdoba, it didn't cost us much in the end.

The variety of habitats that we visited made this a really interesting tour. The southernmost cloudforests of the Andes, also called yungas, get into northern Argentina, and while these forests are not as diverse as those farther north along the chain, they harbor more birds than any other habitat type in the region. Calilegua National Park was best yungas site, and when it was not raining, the birds were really active. Rufous-throated Dipper, Red-faced Guan, Giant Antshrike, and White-throated Antpitta were some of the key birds we saw in the yungas. Below the yungas, the mountains level out into a flat, dry plain dominated by low, dry woodland and scrub, called chaco. There are loads of great birds restricted to this habitat, and some of our favorites were Olive-crowned Crescent-chest, Crested Gallito, Spot-winged Falconet, Black-crested Finch, and the beautiful Many-colored Chaco-Finch pictured above. Back up in the Andes, the complex geography of the mountains makes for starkly beautiful scenery. Rain shadows create extremely dry valleys dominated by cactus and scrub, another unique habitat often called "monte desert." While few birds live here, the few that can include several of Argentina's endemics, like the noisy White-throated Cachalote and the perky Sandy Gallito. Higher up the slopes only grasses and small bushes can survive the often harsh conditions, and here we find the puna with a quite different avifauna characterized by furnariids like earthcreepers, miners, and canasteros, and a huge variety of finches. Scattered lakes up on the altiplano are magnets for birds like flamingos, ducks, coots, and wading birds.

A couple of towns has fairly basic hotels, but for the most part they were of a medium to high standard, with good service and food, not to mention the great wines available almost everywhere, which all helped to make this quite a nice tour.

I'm not including a daily log in this report, rather I'm showing photos of a variety of birds we found on the tour to give you an idea of what can be seen, and also adding a checklist with brief notes on most of the specialty birds we saw.

Itinerary

4 Dec: Arrival in Salta. Afternoon birding between Salta and Jujuy. Night Jujuy
5 Dec: AM Rio Yala, PM Humahuaca Valley. Night Abra Pampa.
6 Dec: Full day in and around Laguna de Pozuelos. Night La Quiaca.
7 Dec: Full day Santa Victoria road. Night La Quiaca.
8 Dec: Early AM at Yavi, then drive to San Martin. Late PM in Calilegua NP. Night San Martin.
9 Dec: Full day in Calilegua NP. Night San Martin.
10 Dec: AM Calilegua NP, PM drive to JV Gonzales. Night JV Gonzalez.
11 Dec: Chaco around JV Gonzales. Night General Guemes.
12 Dec: AM Palomitas, then drive to Cachi, birding Cuesta de Obispo en route. Night Cachí.
13 Dec: AM Cardones NP and Cuesta de Obispo. PM drive to Cafayate. Night Cafayate.
14 Dec: AM between Cafayate and Tafí del Valle. PM Laguna Angostura & Rio Sosa. Night Tafí del Valle.
15 Dec: AM El Infiernillio and Rio Sosa. PM drive to Dean Funes. Night Dean Funes.
16 Dec: AM Salinas Grandes, PM drive to Sierra de Córdoba. Night Carlos Paz.
17 Dec: AM Sierra de Cordoba, PM departure from Córdoba on LAN flights connecting through Santiago.


Photo Gallery
Click here to skip straight to the bird list

Argentina Endemics

Yellow-striped Brush-Finch (Nick Athanas)
Yellow-striped Brush-Finches were really common in the Rio Sosa valley.

 

Sandy Gallito (Nick Athanas)
This Sandy Gallito was singing at dawn from the top of a bush in Los Cardones National Park.

 

Salinas Monjita (Nick Athanas)
One of two Salinas Monjitas that we found at Salinas Grandes.

 


Regional Specialties

Rufous-throated Dipper (Nick Athanas)
Rufous-throated Dipper. This one was in the Rio Sosa.

 

Spot-winged Falconet (Nick Athanas)
One of the Spot-winged Falconets that we found on the second to last day of the trip.

 

Red-backed Sierra-Finch (Nick Athanas)
A Red-backed Sierra-Finch from the Santa Victoria road.

 

Cinereous Tyrant male (Nick Athanas)
The only male Cinereous Tyrant that we saw on the tour, near San Jose de las Salinas.

 

Cream-backed Woodpecker male (Nick Athanas)Cream-backed Woodpecker female (Nick Athanas)
The pair of Cream-backed Woodpeckers that we saw near Palomitas, with the male on the left and the female on the right.

 

Ash-colored Cuckoo (Nick Athanas)
Our rare Ash-colored Cuckoo, a lifer for all, not far from where we saw the Cream-backed Woodpeckers.

 

Fulvous-headed Brush-Finch (Nick Athanas)
A Fulvous-headed Brush-Finch peering out of a fruiting tree along the road above the Rio Yala.

 

White-tipped Plantcutter (Nick Athanas)
One of the many White-tipped Plantcutters we saw on this tour.

 


A few rather distant Puna Flamingos at Laguna Pozuelos. Also called James's Flamingo.

 

Citron-headed Yellow-Finch (Nick Athanas)
One member of the flock of Citron-headed Yellow-Finch feeding in a field near Yavi.

 


Other shots of more widespread birds

Andean Flamingo (Nick Athanas)
Andean Flamingos (with Puna Flamingos in the background) on Laguna Pozuelos.

 

Andean Slaty-Thrush (Nick Athanas)
An Andean Slaty-Thrush in full song near the Rio Yala.

 

Black-backed Grosbeak (Nick Athanas)
This turned out to be our only Black-backed Grosbeak of the trip, near Palomitas.

 

Black Siskin (Nick Athanas)
Three Black Siskins taking shelter in a road cut from the mid-day sun.

 

Gray-breasted Seedsnipe (Nick Athanas)
Gray-breasted Seedsnipes usually like to stay hidden from view, but not these two!

 

Golden-breasted Woodpecker (Nick Athanas)
Golden-breasted Woodpecker, a common and widespread bird in this part of Argentina.

 

Lark-like Brushrunner (Nick Athanas)
One member of an entertaining family of Lark-like Brushrunners along the road to the Salinas Monjita site.

 

Plush-crested Jay (Nick Athanas)
This was one of a very curious flock of Plush-crested Jays that fearlessly came in to check us out at Calilegua National Park.

 

Puna Plover (Nick Athanas)
A Puna Plover that we came across while walking out to the flamingos at Laguna Pozuelos.

 

Red-gartered Coot (Nick Athanas)
Red-gartered Coot - they were the most numerous coot that we found.

 

Spot-backed Puffbird (Nick Athanas)
Spot-backed Puffbird - rather evil looking, isn't it?

 

Stripe-crowned Spinetail (Nick Athanas)
Stripe-crowned Spinetails were pretty common, but not so easy to photograph.

 

Ultramarine Grosbeak male (Nick Athanas)
This great male Ultramarine Grosbeak came in to investigate some pygmy owl imitations at Palomitas.

 

White-backed Stilt (Nick Athanas)
White-backed Stilt

 

White Monjita (Nick Athanas)
White Monjitas are common residents of very open habitats.

 


Mammals

Vicuña (Nick Athanas)
Vicuñas were surprisingly numerous up on the altiplano in the far north. This one was near Laguna Pozuelos.

 

Pampas Fox (Nick Athanas)
The red tinge to the legs and ears combined with the dark marks on the muzzle make this a Pampas Fox.

 


And one random scenery shot...

Los Cardones National Park (Nick Athanas)
The desert scenery of Los Cardones National Park, with snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the background.

 


BIRD LIST

This list includes all the bird species that were recorded by at least one of us. Taxonomy and nomenclature follow: Clements, James F. 2000. Birds of the World: A Checklist. Fifth Edition. Vista, CA: Ibis Publishing Co., including updates. I have put comments in for most of the endemics, regional specialties, and rarities that we saw.

Totals:
329 bird species seen
15 heard only

Abbreviations
H=Heard only
(I)=Introduced species
(E)=Species endemic to Argentina

TINAMOUS Tinamidae
Tataupa Tinamou Crypturellus tataupa A great experience with this one in Calilegua, when one ran back and froth across the road in front of us trying to round up its three chicks.
Ornate Tinamou Nothoprocta ornata Numerous great views of this pretty tinamou in puna. If only they were all this easy to see…
Brushland Tinamou Nothoprocta cinerascens Replaces the previous in the chaco. Again, several great views of it along roadsides.
H Andean Tinamou Nothoprocta pentlandii  
Spotted Nothura Nothura maculosa Several seen well along grassy verges of main roads.
Elegant Crested Tinamou Eudromia elegans One of the trip favorites! Several nice sightings along the road, mainly in Los Cardones NP.
GREBES Podicipedidae
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps  
Great Grebe Podiceps major  
CORMORANTS Phalacrocoracidae
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus  
HERONS, EGRETS, BITTERNS Ardeidae
Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix  
Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi  
Great Egret Ardea alba  
Snowy Egret Egretta thula  
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis  
Striated Heron Butorides striata  
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax  
Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum A single bird seen in rapids along the lower Rio Sosa.
FLAMINGOS Phoenicopteridae
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis There was no shortage of flamingos at Laguna Pozuelos.
Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus  
Puna (James's) Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi  
DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS Anatidae
Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor  
Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba  
Andean Goose Chloephaga melanoptera Numerous around Laguna Pozuelos
Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos  
Torrent Duck Merganetta armata  
Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris  
Crested Duck Anas specularioides Every small pond on the altiplano seemed to have a nesting pair of these.
Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica  
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis  
Red Shoveler Anas platalea There were good numbers of this duck on Laguna Angostura. They are supposed to be only winter residents here, but their presence here this late in the year implies that they are resident here.
Rosy-billed Pochard Netta peposaca A few seen on a reservoir north of Salta.
NEW WORLD VULTURES Cathartidae
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus  
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura  
Andean Condor Vultur gryphus Many nice views of this Andean symbol in the higher elevations of the tour.
HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES Accipitridae
Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus  
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus  
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea  
Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis  
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus  
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris  
Red-backed Hawk Buteo polyosoma  
Puna Hawk Buteo poecilochrous  
FALCONS AND CARACARAS Falconidae
Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus  
Southern Caracara Caracara plancus  
Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango  
Spot-winged Falconet Spiziapteryx circumcinctus One of the tour's main targets, it wasn't until nearly the last day that we finally found this unique falcon, but the views in the end were fabulous.
American Kestrel Falco sparverius  
Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis  
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus  
GUANS, CHACHALACAS, ETC Cracidae
Chaco Chachalaca Ortalis canicollis They were common and noisy in various sites in the Chaco.
Red-faced Guan Penelope dabbenei We had a good, close view of this rare cracid right by the dipper spot along the Rio Yala.
Dusky-legged Guan Penelope obscura  
RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS Rallidae
H Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius  
White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera Seen on many ponds and lakes during the tour.
Slate-colored (Andean) Coot Fulica ardesiaca A few mixed in with the other coots on Angostura - noticeably larger.
Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata Seen on many ponds and lakes during the tour.
Red-fronted Coot Fulica rufifrons Only seen at Angostura.
SERIEMAS Cariamidae
H Red-legged Seriema Cariama cristata  
Black-legged Seriema Chunga burmeisteri We were lucky to find one perched up near JV Gonzales, though it was a brief view.
JACANAS Jacanidae
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana  
AVOCETS AND STILTS Recurvirostridae
White-backed Stilt Himantopus melanurus  
PLOVERS AND LAPWINGS Charadriidae
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis  
Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens  
Puna Plover Charadrius alticola Only two seen while walking out to the edge of Laguna Pozuelos.
Tawny-throated Dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis Another trip favorite - a plover that really stands out from the crowd. The best one was the one with chicks near Yavi.
SANDPIPERS Scolopacidae
South American Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae We flushed one up by the edge of Laguna Angostura.
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca  
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes  
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii  
SEEDSNIPES Thinocoridae
Gray-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus Absolutely fabulous views of a pair on a mound on the way to Laguna Pozuelos; seen other places as well in puna.
Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus One sighting in puna on the way to Laguna Pozuelos.
GULLS Laridae
Andean Gull Larus serranus  
PIGEONS AND DOVES Columbidae
Rock Pigeon (I) Columba livia  
Picazuro Pigeon Patagioenas picazuro  
Spot-winged Pigeon Patagioenas maculosa  
Pale-vented Pigeon Patagioenas cayennensis  
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata  
Picui Ground-Dove Columbina picui  
Bare-faced Ground-Dove Metriopelia ceciliae  
Bare-eyed (Moreno's) Ground-Dove (E) Metriopelia morenoi We found a nice flock of this endemic during a random roadside stop in the Humahuaca valley.
Golden-spotted Ground-Dove Metriopelia aymara Quite numerous on the day we visited Laguna Pozuelos, but we didn't see them anywhere else.
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi  
White-faced (Large-tailed) Dove Leptotila megalura A yungas specialty - we finally got a good view of a perched bird in Calilegua after hearing them and glimpsing them in a few other places.
H White-throated Quail-Dove Geotrygon frenata  
PARROTS Psittacidae
Golden-collared Macaw Primolius auricollis Nice close views of a pair perched in the rain at Calilegua.
Blue-crowned Parakeet Aratinga acuticaudata Just a flyover of a pair near JV Gonzales.
Mitred Parakeet Aratinga mitrata  
Burrowing Parrot Cyanoliseus patagonus Parrots? They are far more like macaws with their size, shape, and calls. They were common in the dry "monte desert" in interandean valleys. For some reason they love to perch on wires.
Green-cheeked Parakeet Pyrrhura molinae They were especially common in Calilegua, though we did see them elsewhere too in Yungas habitat.
Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus Incredibly abundant in the chaco, it seemed like every big tree and pole had a nest.
Gray-hooded Parakeet Psilopsiagon aymara After some brief glimpses, we finally got the views we deserved above Tafi del Valle, with a few birds perched low down by the side of the road.
Mountain Parakeet Psilopsiagon aurifrons Beautiful close-up views along the side of the road on several occasions in dry puna habitat.
Scaly-headed Parrot Pionus maximiliani  
CUCKOOS Cuculidae
Ash-colored Cuckoo Coccyzus cinereus What luck! We found a singing bird at Palomitas that flew straight in to the tape and sat in the open. A rarely-seen bird anywhere in South America.
Dark-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus melacoryphus  
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana  
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani  
Guira Cuckoo Guira guira  
Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia  
OWLS Strigidae
H Tropical Screech-Owl Megascops choliba  
H Hoy's Screech-Owl Megascops hoyi Sadly, even though we heard two of them fairly close to the road, neither would come in close enough to be seen.
Tucuman Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium tucumanum This is a split from Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, though I don't really believe it deserves full species status.
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia  
Stygian Owl Asio stygius One of the trip highlights, and if we had seen the Hoy's Screech-Owl easily we likely would not have spent enough time to see this one as it was so late. But we carried on up and heard one calling. It was nicely responsive and we got a really great view! Even though this is one of the most widespread Neotropical owls, it is hardly ever seen. I'll never forget this one.
NIGHTJARS Caprimulgidae
Rufous Nightjar Caprimulgus rufus They were common and easy to see pre-dawn at mid-elevations in Calilegua NP.
Band-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus longirostris  
Scissor-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis torquata  
SWIFTS Apodidae
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris  
Ashy-tailed (Sick's) Swift Chaetura andrei  
Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus  
HUMMINGBIRDS Trochilidae
Planalto Hermit Phaethornis pretrei  
Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans  
Glittering-bellied Emerald Chlorostilbon aureoventris  
Gilded Sapphire Hylocharis chrysura One seen in chaco near JV Gonzales was a bit unexpected.
White-bellied Hummingbird Leucippus chionogaster  
White-sided Hillstar Oreotrochilus leucopleurus One definite sighting on the lower parts of the Santa Victoria road. Several other flybys could have been Andean Hillstar but were not seen well enough.
Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas  
Red-tailed Comet Sappho sparganura This is a mesmerizingly beautiful bird. When hovering in good light it seems to ripple with every color imaginable. I can't believe any photo could ever do this bird justice. Fortunately it is fairly common in a variety of areas in the Andes of NW Argentina.
Blue-tufted Starthroat Heliomaster furcifer Several females seen in chaco near JV Gonzales - no males were noted.
TROGONS AND QUETZALS Trogonidae
Blue-crowned Trogon Trogon curucui  
PUFFBIRDS Bucconidae
Spot-backed Puffbird Nystalus maculatus We saw it pretty regularly in the chaco.
TOUCANS Ramphastidae
Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco Only in Calilegua, where it was fairly common.
WOODPECKERS Picidae
H White-barred Piculet Picumnus cirratus  
Ocellated Piculet Picumnus dorbygnianus After hearing a few, we finally saw it nicely in the lower reaches of Calilegua NP.
White-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes cactorum We saw a few well at some of the chaco sites.
H Checkered Woodpecker Picoides mixtus  
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus  
Dot-fronted Woodpecker Veniliornis frontalis Calilegua NP seems the best place for this as we has several good views of this yungas specialty.
Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus  
Green-barred (Golden-breasted) Woodpecker Colaptes melanochloros melanolaimus It was lumped with Green-barred by Clements a couple of years ago, thought me it seems distinctive enough to be a separate species. They were common in many places.
Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola  
Campo Flicker Colaptes campestris campestroides  
Cream-backed Woodpecker Campephilus leucopogon A pair seen beautifully in chaco at Palomitas.
OVENBIRDS Furnariidae
Common Miner Geositta cunicularia titicacae Numerous in the puna up in the north, especially around Laguna Pozuelos.
Puna Miner Geositta punensis The best view was one sitting on a fence post near Abra Pampa.
Rufous-banded Miner Geositta rufipennis We somehow missed it for a few days before we started seeing them all over the place. It's buzzy song is really distinctive.
Slender-billed Miner Geositta tenuirostris The one doing display flights on the Santa Victoria road was especially good.
Scale-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia dumetaria A nice find on the north side of El Infiernillo. It showed well as it sat on a rock and sang to us.
Plain-breasted Earthcreeper Upucerthia jelskii We only found one, a responsive bird on the Santa Victoria road.
Buff-breasted Earthcreeper (E) Upucerthia validirostris Good views of several singing birds in two spots at El Infiernillo.
Straight-billed Earthcreeper Upucerthia ruficauda  
Rock Earthcreeper Upucerthia andaecola Best views were at Cuesta del Obispo, but we did see them farther north too.
Chaco Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus certhioides Heard far more than seen, but we did have excellent views of one in the end in the chaco near El Tunal.
Olrog's Cinclodes (E) Cinclodes olrogi This cinclodes endemic to the Sierra de Córdoba is sometimes lumped with Gray-flanked Cinclodes. We watched a pair in the fog and mist by a stream high up on the Pampa de Achala.
Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus  
Comechingones (Cordoba) Cinclodes (E) Cinclodes comechingonus We nailed this one on the Pampa de Achala moments before it started hammering down with rain, effectively ending the birding.
White-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis  
Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus  
Crested Hornero Furnarius cristatus A chaco specialty; we had them near JV Gonzales and at Salinas Grandes.
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura aegithaloides  
Tufted Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura platensis  
Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura fuliginiceps We saw a bunch on the Cuesta de Obispo.
Ochre-cheeked Spinetail Synallaxis scutata These can be skulky, but they were surprisingly easy to see in the lower parts of Calilegua.
Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae superciliosa  
Sooty-fronted Spinetail Synallaxis frontalis  
Pale-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis albescens  
Stripe-crowned Spinetail Cranioleuca pyrrhophia  
Creamy-breasted Canastero Asthenes dorbignyi  
Short-billed Canastero Asthenes baeri One of the few canasteros not tied to mountains. We saw one in chaco near Salinas Grandes.
Iquico (Maquis) Canastero Asthenes heterura This bird was first found in Argentina in only 1992. We were lucky to find three singing individuals at Cuesta del Obispo
Cordilleran Canastero Asthenes modesta Here they seem to prefer really dry, sparse puna.
Puna Canastero Asthenes sclateri lilloi Our best view was near Abra Lizoite. Thanks to the rain, we missed the race that is endemic to the Sierra de Córdoba.
Scribble-tailed Canastero Asthenes maculicauda A rare and local resident of puna bunchgrass. We had to hike a mile up a grassy slope, but finally had great views of one feeding a fledgling.
Common (Rufous-fronted) Thornbird Phacellodomus rufifrons  
Little Thornbird Phacellodomus sibilatrix Not so easy to find! Eventually we located an active nest on a nice chaco track east of El Tunal.
Streak-fronted Thornbird Phacellodomus striaticeps Rather common in dry intermontane scrub.
Spot-breasted Thornbird Phacellodomus maculipectus Really pretty if you get a good look. We saw them first along the Rio Yala, then found a few nests over the road on the drive up to Cuesta del Obispo.
Lark-like Brushrunner Coryphistera alaudina Always a favorite. These perky, energetic birds are always in family groups, and are fascinating to watch as they go about their business.
Brown Cacholote Pseudoseisura lophotes  
White-throated Cacholote (E) Pseudoseisura gutturalis Really common in a few places - during a quick stop near Quilmes it seemed like every little tree had a nesting pair.
Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans  
Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner Syndactyla rufosuperciliata  
WOODCREEPERS Dendrocolaptidae
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus  
Black-banded Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes picumnus  
Narrow-billed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes angustirostris  
TYPICAL ANTBIRDS Thamnophilidae
Giant Antshrike Batara cinerea argentina A splendid male was the highlight of our first afternoon at Calilegua. Their loud songs could be heard most places we stopped in the lower parts of the park.
Great Antshrike Taraba major  
Variable Antshrike Thamnophilus caerulescens dinellii  
Rufous-capped Antshrike Thamnophilus ruficapillus A fearless male put on a show in the yungas between Salta and Jujuy.
Stripe-backed Antbird Myrmorchilus strigilatus One fantastic male seen in the chaco - it's hard to beat this one, and its even in a monotypic genus.
Black-capped Antwren Herpsilochmus atricapillus A pair in the lower part of Calilegua
ANTTHRUSHES AND ANTPITTAS Formicariidae
White-throated Antpitta Grallaria albigula Wow! It took some effort to fight our way up a slope off the side of the road, but the bird cooperated and came in really close. A fabulous view for an antpitta, and no one minded getting covered in mud for it.
TAPACULOS Rhinocryptidae
Crested Gallito Rhinocrypta lanceolata Fortunately, in response to playback they will clamber to the top of a bush and sing - otherwise they could be quite tough.
Sandy Gallito (E) Teledromas fuscus We found our first one singing at dawn from the top of a bush at Los Cardones, but the one near Quilmes running around in front of us with its tail cocked up was a lot more fun. Endemic to the monte deserts of Northern Argentina.
Olive-crowned Crescent-chest Melanopareia maximiliani argentina Fantastic! One responsive bird made our first afternoon in the chaco. One could argue it's the best of the tapaculos, but recent research suggests that they are perhaps best separated as their own distinct famiily.
White-browed Tapaculo Scytalopus superciliaris Surprisingly easy to see for a Scytalopus.
COTINGAS Cotingidae
White-tipped Plantcutter Phytotoma rutila Amazingly widespread, we saw them from lowlands all the way up to nearly 4000m on the altiplano.
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS Tyrannidae
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum  
Gray Elaenia Myiopagis caniceps  
H Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata  
Large Elaenia Elaenia spectabilis  
H Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster  
Small-billed Elaenia Elaenia parvirostris  
Slaty Elaenia Elaenia strepera One of the more distinctive elaenias - they breed in the yungas forest and migrate north for the austral winter.
Highland Elaenia Elaenia obscura  
White-bellied Tyrannulet Serpophaga munda Seems to be a foothill specialty. We saw several in the Palomitas chaco.
Sepia-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon amaurocephalus  
Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet Phylloscartes ventralis  
Rough-legged Tyrannulet Phyllomyias burmeisteri  
Sclater's Tyrannulet Phyllomyias sclateri Another Yungas specialty, we had several calling birds.
Southern Scrub-Flycatcher Sublegatus modestus  
Suiriri Flycatcher Suiriri suiriri suiriri  
White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys  
Buff-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus hellmayri We only saw one, moving with a mixed flock in the upper reaches of Calilegua NP.
Plain Tyrannulet Inezia inornata  
Greater Wagtail-Tyrant Stigmatura budytoides  
Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant Anairetes flavirostris  
Subtropical Doradito Pseudocolopteryx acutipennis It was really bizarre to see this in a bush on the side of the road above Tafí. There didn't seem to be any water around!
Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant Euscarthmus meloryphus  
Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher Poecilotriccus plumbeiceps  
Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer  
H Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens  
Bran-colored Flycatcher Myiophobus fasciatus  
Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea  
Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea  
H Euler's Flycatcher Lathrotriccus euleri  
Smoke-colored Pewee Contopus fumigatus  
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans  
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus  
D'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca oenanthoides A few sightings in dry scrub on on the altiplano.
White-browed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys  
Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant Myiotheretes striaticollis  
White Monjita Xolmis irupero  
Salinas Monjita (E) Xolmis salinarum An incredibly localized and specialized endemic, only found in low vegetation around salt pans in Córdoba. After a bit of searching, we finally found a cooperative pair that did not mind us following them around observing and photographing them.
Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis montana  
Lesser Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis murina One seen at Salinas Grandes, implying that the species could be resident here.
Cinereous Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola cinereus  
Black-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola frontalis Somewhat of a surprise at Abra Lizoite. Published range data indicate that this species should only occur here in the austral winter. Perhaps a few of them do breed this far north?
Andean Negrito Lessonia oreas Just a few at a pond near Abra Pampa.
Cinereous Tyrant Knipolegus striaticeps A female near JV Gonzales, but finally a nice view of a male near Salinas Grandes.
Andean Tyrant Knipolegus signatus Several near the Rio Yala.
White-winged Black-Tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus  
Spectacled Tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus  
Yellow-browed Tyrant Satrapa icterophrys  
Cattle Tyrant Machetornis rixosus  
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer  
Swainson's Flycatcher Myiarchus swainsoni  
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus  
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus  
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus  
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius  
Variegated Flycatcher Empidonomus varius  
Crowned Slaty Flycatcher Griseotyrannus aurantioatrocristatus  
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus  
Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana  
Green-backed Becard Pachyramphus viridis  
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus  
Crested Becard Pachyramphus validus  
SWALLOWS Hirundinidae
Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera  
Southern Martin Progne elegans They were fairly common in Córdoba province, but we didn't see any farther north.
White-rumped Swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa  
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca  
Andean Swallow Haplochelidon andecola Several small flocks along the Santa Victoria road.
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis  
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS Motacillidae
Short-billed Pipit Anthus furcatus Many were seen doing display flights in the puna near Laguna Pozuelos.
Hellmayr's Pipit Anthus hellmayri We found some displaying birds on the hike up to the Scribble-tailed Canastero.
H Yellowish Pipit Anthus lutescens  
DIPPERS Cinclidae
Rufous-throated Dipper Cinclus schulzi The most localized of the family, this certainly is one of the top targets of this tour. Fortunately we had no problems finding them, first a pair along the Rio Yala and then later two more along the Rio Sosa.
WRENS Troglodytidae
House Wren Troglodytes aedon  
Mountain Wren Troglodytes solstitialis  
Sedge (Grass) Wren Cistothorus platensis We saw ours in the grasslands on the Sierra de Córdoba. I think it's the nominate race that occurs here.
MOCKINGBIRDS & THRASHERS Mimidae
Chalk-browed Mockingbird Mimus saturninus  
Patagonian Mockingbird Mimus patagonicus  
Brown-backed Mockingbird Mimus dorsalis Nice views near Abra Pampa and Yavi.
White-banded Mockingbird Mimus triurus  
THRUSHES Turdidae
Spotted Nightingale-Thrush Catharus dryas This bird may be widespread, but you rarely see it as well as we did, sitting in the open and singing its lovely song in the yungas at Calilegua NP.
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus  
Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco  
Andean Slaty-Thrush Turdus nigriceps It's harsh, ringing song was a near-constant feature of the yungas. They are easy to see now as the males sing from exposed perches.
Rufous-bellied Thrush Turdus rufiventris  
Creamy-bellied Thrush Turdus amaurochalinus  
GNATCATCHERS Polioptilidae
Masked Gnatcatcher Polioptila dumicola  
CROWS AND JAYS Corvidae
Plush-crested Jay Cyanocorax chrysops  
OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeridae
House Sparrow (I) Passer domesticus  
VIREOS AND ALLIES Vireonidae
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus  
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis  
FINCHES, SISKINS, ETC. Fringillidae
Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica  
Black Siskin Carduelis atrata They seemed to be everywhere up in the high puna.
WOOD WARBLERS Parulidae
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi  
Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis  
Brown-capped Redstart Myioborus brunniceps Common in the yungas
Two-banded Warbler Basileuterus bivittatus Common in the yungas
Pale-legged Warbler Basileuterus signatus We didn't start seeing these until we got quite high up in Calilegua NP.
H Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus  
TANAGERS AND ALLIES Thraupidae
Chestnut-vented Conebill Conirostrum speciosum  
Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus  
Orange-headed Tanager Thlypopsis sordida  
Rust-and-yellow Tanager Thlypopsis ruficeps Many great views of this nice-looking tanager in several yungas sites.
Sayaca Tanager Thraupis sayaca  
Blue-and-yellow Tanager Thraupis bonariensis  
Fawn-breasted Tanager Pipraeidea melanonota  
Purple-throated Euphonia Euphonia chlorotica  
Golden-rumped Euphonia Euphonia cyanocephala  
BUNTINGS, SEEDEATERS, ETC. Emberizidae
Many-colored Chaco-Finch Saltatricula multicolor They were singing like crazy all throughout the chaco, even in the heat of the day. We enjoyed every one.
Red-crested Finch Coryphospingus cucullatus  
Black-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus atriceps Several stunning males seen along the road south of Abra Pampa.
Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus gayi  
Mourning Sierra-Finch Phrygilus fruticeti  
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor  
Red-backed Sierra-Finch Phrygilus dorsalis The Santa Victoria road is one of the best places to see this distinctive sierra-finch - once we got high enough, they were rather common.
Band-tailed Sierra-Finch Phrygilus alaudinus  
Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus  
Black-crested Finch Lophospingus pusillus Another nice bonus on that amazingly birdy road to Salinas Grandes; it was good to pick this one up after missing it in Salta. It looks more like a tit than a finch!
Common Diuca-Finch Diuca diuca  
Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch Poospiza hypochondria Not too many of these guys; we saw pairs at Cuesta de Obispo and El Infiernillo.
Rusty-browed Warbling-Finch Poospiza erythrophrys You have to see it well before you really can appreciate it's subtle beauty. We only found one pair, not far from the Rio Yala.
Tucuman Mountain-Finch Poospiza baeri Almost endemic to Argentina (there are a couple of Bolivian records). We were very fortunate to find one at Cuesta del Obispo, as we did not see any at El Infiernillo, the "traditional" spot for them.
Ringed Warbling-Finch Poospiza torquata Yet another handsome member of the genus. We found them to be a lot more common in the monte desert than in the chaco.
Black-capped Warbling-Finch Poospiza melanoleuca  
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina  
Double-collared Seedeater Sporophila caerulescens  
Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis  
Plain-colored Seedeater Catamenia inornata  
Dull-colored Grassquit Tiaris obscura  
Rusty Flowerpiercer Diglossa sittoides  
Puna Yellow-Finch Sicalis lutea They were fairly common up high near Abra Pampa and Laguna Pozuelos.
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola  
Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola  
Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch Sicalis uropygialis A few on the day we visited Pozuelos.
Citron-headed Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteocephala We had good numbers of them mixed in with other finches feeding in a field near Yavi.
Greenish Yellow-Finch Sicalis olivascens  
Great Pampa-Finch Embernagra platensis  
Red-crested Cardinal Paroaria coronata It may be common, but it's hard to find a more handsome bird.
Fulvous-headed Brush-Finch Atlapetes fulviceps  
Yellow-striped Brush-Finch (E) Atlapetes citrinellus Surprisingly common above and below Tafi del Valle, but we didn't see them anywhere else.
Stripe-headed Brush-Finch Buarremon torquatus  
Saffron-billed Sparrow Arremon flavirostris I think we got them at the right time - they were vocal and surpisingly easy to see in the lower parts of Calilegua.
Stripe-capped Sparrow Aimophila strigiceps Very scarce this time, but we did get two nice views, the best near San Jose de las Salinas.
Grassland Sparrow Ammodramus humeralis  
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis  
SALTATORS, CARDINALS, ETC. Cardinalidae
Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens  
Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris  
Black-backed Grosbeak Pheucticus aureoventris A beautiful male in the chaco at Palomitas
Ultramarine Grosbeak Cyanocompsa brissonii Quite a widespread bird in South America, but nowhere is it as easy to see as in NW Argentina.
BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, ETC. Icteridae
White-browed Blackbird Sturnella superciliaris  
Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca Lots of them up in the grasslands on the Sierra de Córdoba before the rain started.
Bay-winged Cowbird Molothrus badius  
Screaming Cowbird Molothrus rufoaxillaris Virtually the first bird we saw, in the parking lot at Salta Airport, but we didn't notice any more after that.
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis  
Epaulet Oriole Icterus cayanensis  
Golden-winged Cacique Cacicus chrysopterus  
H Solitary Cacique Cacicus solitarius  
Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus