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A Report from

North-west Argentina 2003,

Phil and Charlotte Benstead, Norfolk, UK


We spent the period between 19th October and 7th November 2003 birding in North-west Argentina. We flew with Iberia from London (via Madrid) to Buenos Aires - this flight was cheap but I would not recommend them as a long-distance carrier. We then took an onward 2.5 hour flight with Aerolineas to Salta. Note that domestic flights mostly depart from Aeroparque airport (north of town) which is an hour by bus (P18) from the International airport. We hired a car through Wildwings in the UK and the cost was £395 for 21 days. This deal was through Europcar who do not have a desk at Salta - better to book with someone who does. We ended up paying another £45 when we dropped off the car because so many things had fallen off it during the trip. My mistake was to hand him all the bits at the end by way of complaint! It was a Brazilian made Ford Ka - definitely worth avoiding. The concept of a voucher also seemed to mystify the rental guy and we had long discussions at the airport before he agreed not to charge me any extra. Driving was mostly easy away from town although I have sneaking suspicion that a lot of road signs have been 're-cycled' - we regularly got lost going through towns.

That aside Argentina offers reasonable infrastructure, easy travelling, welcoming people and it is a nice, gentle introduction to birding in South America. The trip is also very good value at the moment due to the weak state of the Argentine peso (4.65/£). Cash is available at ATM machines in all towns and this will also get you the best rate for your money. We mostly stayed in hotels throughout which cost between P25 and P60 per night. We spent just two nights camping at Calilegua but this is not strictly necessary - although it makes nightbirding an easier proposition.

Strategy and birds we missed

We elected to spend a reasonable amount of time in a relatively small area and this paid off in terms of the number of species seen. Ideally we would have incorporated El Rey into the itinerary but wet weather when we were in the area meant that we could not access this site.

It is surprisingly worthwhile learning the nest structure of some of the ovenbirds. We located white-throated cacholote because we had strong suspicions about a nest we had found and used tape-playback to bring the indignant owner into view. The latest Handbook of the Birds of the World (Vol 8) is a useful reference in this respect.

Looking through Clements (Birds of the World: a checklist) it is apparent that the taxonomy of the birds in this region is in disarray. I am not quite sure what he has done with the pygmy-owls, meadowlarks and Poospiza. No doubt the new field guide will answer these questions when it comes out.

We missed the following birds:

Darwin's tinamou Andes
Elegant crested- tinamou Andes. Was recorded above Tafi the day before we got up there.
Quebracho crested-tinamou chaco.
Fasciated tiger-heron has been recorded on river below Tafi.
Red-legged seriema there appears to be about a 50:50 chance of scoring this. We heard it but could not get views. El Rey NP campsite apparently has tame individuals, but can only be accessed in dry weather in 2WD vehicles.
Band-tailed pigeon Calilegua.
Solitary eagle Calilegua.
Spot-winged falconet present at JVG but rarely recorded there.
Smoky-brown woodpecker Calilegua.
Black-bodied woodpecker present at JVG but rarely recorded there.
Ash-coloured cuckoo chaco.
Nacunda nighthawk chaco.
White-sided hillstar Andes.
Fork-tailed wood-nymph yungas.
White-vented violetear Andes.
Great rufous woodcreeper chaco.
Black-banded woodcreeper Calilegua.
Red-billed scythebill chaco. Tape would be handy for this species.
Straight-billed earthcreeper usually seen between Humuaca and Abra Pampa - we dipped!
Lark-like brushrunner surprise dip of the trip - usually present at JVG but we could not find any, perhaps the high levels of disturbance were to blame.
Olive-crowned crescentchest chaco. Recorded at Palomitas in the past but appears to be scarce there now.
White-naped xenopsaris chaco.
Subtropical doradito Andes (around Cachi).
Cinereous ground-tyrant Andes.
Black-capped antwren Calilegua.
Slaty flowerpiercer in yungas at base of Cuesto del Obispo.
White-banded mockingbird Andes.
Spotted nightingale thrush yungas forest.
Black-crested finch chaco.
Lined seedeater usually recorded in scrub and agricultural habitats at lower elevations.
Dark-throated seedeater around Salta in agricultural land.


Take both the available field guides:

They are both pretty appalling and need to be used in conjunction with each other for best results. A new field guide is approaching completion and will no doubt replace these two books.

We used the following sources of site information from the internet:

·   Chile and Argentina Birding Trip report by Jon Hornbuckle on WorldTwitch.

·   Argentina: a birding trip to the NW Andes and the coast of Buenos Aires Province by Richard and Jen Kershaw. An old-fashioned paper report from a friend.

·   Argentina Trip Report by Greg Roberts from the internet.

·   North-West Argentina 2002 Trip Report from the people at Ornifolks

·   Argentina, 11th February to 4th March by David and John Cooper from the internet.

·   Argentina (November and December 1994) by Jan Vermeulen from the internet.

·   Argentina Trip Report, June to October 1993 by Phil Benstead, Richard Hearn and Cath Jeffs.


Trip planning before we left the UK was greatly helped by information supplied by Mark Pearman and Frank Lambert - thanks to you both. During the trip we bumped into Andrew and Angela and Dave Pitman and crew and we thank them all for providing us with the latest info for sites we were about to visit. Finally thanks to the authors of the web gen mentioned above for putting it out there in the first place.

Sites visited

19/10, 20/10 and 7/11       Abra Santa Laura

We spent parts of three days working this site, including two pre-dawn spotlighting sessions. The road between Salta and Abra Santa Laura and on to Embalse de Cienaga offers good birding. The lake approximately 25 km north of Salta is worth stopping at. At km 1635 we heard our only red-legged seriemas of the trip. All the nightbirds were recorded between km 1646 and 1651 in the hours before dawn. A great introduction to yungas forest birding in the region but easily eclipsed by Calilegua in terms of quality. Highlights included: Hoy's screech-owl, rufous nightjar, [lyre-tailed nightjar], [common potoo] and dull-coloured grassquit.

20/10                                     Embalse de Cienaga

A large reservoir situated between the Abra Santa Laura and Jujuy. Well worth stopping at. Turn off by the police checkpoint and drive a short distance till you see the footbridge over the irrigation channel which gives access to the shoreline. The scattered trees around the reservoir held a number of interesting species. Highlights included: ringed teal, tufted tit-tyrant, white-crested elaenia and black-and-chestnut warbling-finch. We also looked in on the Dique Los Alisos on the left as you travel north just before Jujuy - a large reservoir with some birds but not as good as the Embalse de Cienaga.

19/10 and 21/10                 Yala

Situated just north of Jujuy on the road to Humuaca. Look out for a road on the left signed to Lagunas de Yala, as you leave the village. Bird the gardens before the bridge, the river above the bridge, the area around the white pump buildings and beyond. Despite two visits we never felt like we did this site justice. Highlights included: torrent duck, white-collared swift, Rothschild's swift, slender-tailed woodstar, spotted-breasted thornbird, crested becard, streak-throated bush-tyrant and rufous-throated dipper.

21/10                                     Humuaca area

We pitched up here in the mid-afternoon and explored a desert area to the west of town. Continue north past the first turning to Humuaca and take a dirt road on left which has some obvious white crosses alongside it and then crosses a dirt landing strip before heading off into the cactus desert. The track is driveable for some distance but take care at dry stream and riverbeds as these could be problematic for 2WD. We found our first sparkling violetear and giant hummingbirds here. The best of the birding is however above here en route to Abra Pampa. Highlights above Humuaca en route to Abra Pampa included: buff-breasted earthcreeper, rufous-naped ground-tyrant, black siskin and thick-billed siskin.

22/10 to 25/10                     Abra Pampa area

A great base from which to bird the surrounding high puna and get up to La Quiaca. We stayed at the Residencial Cesarito which was great fun and cooked the best Milanesa in Argentina. Do not ignore the marsh situated to the west of Abra Pampa. It is best accessed by an obvious track leading off the road to Lago de Pozuelos (near the small bridge). It was very dry when we were here but there were plenty of birds tucked away on small pools dotted about. Highlights included: puna ibis at the marsh, puna flamingo, Andean flamingo, Andean hillstar (on road down to Humuaca), common miner, rock earthcreeper (on road down to Humuaca) and bright-rumped yellow-finch (try in the gardens of the water company office - it is on the main drag through town and has a water tower in the back).

22/10 and 23/10                 Lago de Pozuelos

About one hour from Abra Pampa on the road to Rinconada is an very large high altitude lake. It was almost dry when we visited and the birds were concentrated around the inflow of a small river. We followed this river down a dirt track that originates from the road just after the ranger station and bridge and leads to the lake shore (for map see Wheatley Where to watch birds in South America). We drove out over the dry lake bed to find some water and were not disappointed, although horned coot were absent. The access track is well worth careful birding. Highlights included: lesser rhea, good views of puna tinamou, the flamingos, giant coot, excellent views of tawny-throated dotterel, puna plover and golden-spotted ground-dove.

23/10                                     Laguna Larga

This lake accessed by taking the driveable track behind Lagunilla church was bone dry (for map see Wheatley Where to watch birds in South America). We had a very enjoyable walk along this track birding the hillsides and following the dry riverbed which still held some pools of water which attracted a number of species. Highlights included: slender-billed miner and plain-breasted earthcreeper.

24/10                                     La Quiaca

We elected to drive up the road from Abra Pampa to this border town in the hope of bumping into some of the specialities that just creep into Argentina at this far-flung spot. The road is nearly hard-top all the way now so it is not at all unpleasant. We drove into the town centre and then worked our way out by driving south along the west side of the defunct railway track eventually bumping into a schoolyard that held bare-faced ground-dove and citron-headed yellow-finch. Other possibilities in this area include wedge-tailed hillstar.

25/10 to 29/10                     Calilegua National Park

Accessed from Libertador Gral. San Martin on Route 34. The turning to the park is just after the bridge to the north of town and this track is the only real access to this large park. This park is fantastic birding and it is worth spending plenty of time here. Bird the trails around the first ranger station and the second if you have time. Do not ignore the tiny loop trail just above the first ranger station - we had some great birds here every time we walked it. We did two successful pre-dawn spot-lighting sessions. Rain seriously affected one day here. We mostly stayed in a hotel in Libertador Gral. San Martin, but camped on two nights. Highlights included: good views of tataupa tinamou, king vulture, swallow-tailed kite, plumbeous kite, bicoloured hawk, good views of dusky-legged guan, white-throated quail-dove, golden-collared macaw, Tucuman parrot, squirrel cuckoo, Hoy's screech-owl, yungas pygmy-owl, spectacled owl, planalto hermit, blue-capped puffleg, speckled hummingbird, blue-crowned trogon, toco toucan, golden-green woodpecker, dot-fronted woodpecker, ochre-cheeked spinetail, streaked xenops, giant antshrike, white-throated antpitta, rufous casiornis, ochre-faced tody-flycatcher, slaty elaenia, grey elaenia, Euler's flycatcher, white-necked thrush, Andean slaty thrush, glossy-black thrush, pale-legged warbler, two-banded warbler, chestnut-vented conebill, purple-throated euphonia and guira tanager.

29/10 and 30/10                 Palomitas

We stayed in Gral. Guemes and birded this site during an afternoon and morning session. Palomitas is located about 20 km south of Gral. Guemes on Route 9/34 (a toll road). Turn left off the road (heading south) at the sign for Palomitas. Keep right and cross the railway and take a right at the only major fork. The chaco along this track is severely degraded but it is still a great place to go birding. Bird the fields and scrub along the track. Highlights included: our first Andean condor (albeit at a rather unusual location), peregrine, black-legged seriema, chaco earthcreeper, cinereous tyrant and brown-crested flycatcher.

31/10 to 2/11                       Joaquín V. Gonzalez

Traditionally birders take the road on the right (by the bus stop just after the impressive archway) just south of town. Follow this for 14 km and it takes you to a private track leading off on the right and another which is located 3 km further on the right. Birding these tracks produces many of the chaco specialities. We pinned all our chaco hopes on this site and were nearly undone. Much of the chaco along the first track had recently been cleared by chain and all the evidence points to this being a continuing process. Bizarrely many of the typical resident species were still present sitting on the rowed piles of scrub or walking between them and the birding was perhaps simplified. This site will however soon be completely cleared. Hunting pressure was heavy in the recently opened up habitat and may explain the lack of Quebracho crested-tinamous here which most people see. In addition heavy rain fell on the first day and made access rather difficult. The other track was OK but the habitat along it is heavily degraded. Despite these difficulties we saw most of our target species except lark-like brushrunner. Highlights included: greater rhea, brushland tinamou, great black hawk, blue-fronted parrot, blue-tufted starthroat, scimitar-billed woodcreeper, chaco earthcreeper, crested hornero, brown cacholote, pale-breasted spinetail, great antshrike, stripe-backed antbird, crested gallito, scrub flycatcher, pearly-vented tody-tyrant, southern beardless-tyrannulet, masked yellowthroat, red-crested cardinal, solitary cacique and screaming cowbird.

2/11                                        Tafi del Valle (yungas and lake)

Bird the yungas and river below Tafi del Valle en route to town and do not ignore the lake 8 km before town on the plateau. Along the river we concentrated on the area behind the small picnic area (with a memorial dedicated to some general or other) on the left near the bridge over a small tributary of the Rio Los Sosas. In Tafi we stayed at the Hosteria Los Cuartos. Highlights included: Andean coot (lake), puna snipe (lake), blue-capped puffleg (yungas), white-browed tapaculo (yungas) and yellow-striped brush-finch (yungas).

3/11                                        Tafi del Valle (El Infiernillo)

The Abra del Infiernillo area above Tafi is fantastic, we birded the gullies at km 78 and 80 and also walked upslope from km 83 for about 2 km. The area upslope from just back from the top of the pass (where the flag flies) is supposed to be good for scribble-tailed canastero. We ran out of time. Early mornings best here as the low cloud often sweeps in. Highlights included: very good views of Andean tinamou, grey-breasted seedsnipe, slender-billed miner, chestnut canastero, Cordoba canastero, brown-capped tit-spinetail, white-browed tapaculo, plumbeous sierra-finch and Tucuman mountain-finch.

3/11                                        Quilmes Ruins

Dave Pitman advised us to go here and we were not disappointed. It is well signed and lies about 5 km off the road between Tafi and Cafayete. Bird the scrub around the ruins. Highlights included: white-throated cacholote and Andean tyrant. Cinnamon warbling-finch and sandy gallito occur. There is a rather expensive looking hotel here but we drove on to Cafayete.

4/11                                        Cafayete

One of the best sites for the endemic sandy gallito lies just outside town in a weird area of sandy high altitude chaco-type habitat. This area is reached by taking the Salta road out of Cafayete for 7 km (past the airstrip) until you reach a sharp right-hand bend with obvious dunes. Bird the sandy scrub hear and listen for the gallito. They respond well to tape-playback and sit around calling in bushes. Highlights included: sandy gallito and cinnamon warbling-finch. We back-tracked to Cafayete and took the incredibly scenic road to Cachi.

4/11 and 5/11                      Cachi

Most of the action is on the roads leading to Cachi from Cafayete and Salta. We did find some good birds near the floodplain football pitch on the road out to Cafayete. If you are with your partner (rather than a car-load of birders) do not miss the chance to stay at La Paya which is about 15 km out of Cachi off the road to Cafayete (well-signed). Good luck finding the petrol station in Cachi, it is really tucked away. Highlights included: grass wren and rufous-sided warbling-finch.

5/11                                        Los Cardones National Park

Situated high up between Cachi and Cuesto del Obispo. The road goes through this cactus desert area. Highlights included: grey-bellied shrike-tyrant.

5/11                                        Cuesto del Obispo

Situated between Los Cardones NP and Chicoana this valley offers very good birding - from the top of the pass (the Piedra de Molinos) to the yungas at the bottom there are plenty of birds. The saltator is best seen at Quebrada El Sunchal and the quebrada above this is very good too. Highlights included: superb views of ornate tinamou, rock earthcreeper, brown-capped tit-spinetail, mouse-coloured tyrannulet, rufous-bellied saltator and Tucuman mountain-finch.

Systematic list of birds recorded in North-West Argentina between 19th October and 7th November

Sites visited: Abra Santa Laura (ASL) 19-20/10 and 7/11; Embalse de Cienaga (EDC) 20/10; Yala (Y) 19/10 and 21/10; Humuaca area (H) 21/10; Abra Pampa (AP) 22-25/10; Lago de Pozuelos (LP) 22-23/10; Laguna Larga (LL) 23/10; La Quiaca (LQ) 24/10; Calilegua National Park (CNP) 25-29/10; Palomitas (P) 29/10 and 30/10; Joaquín V. Gonzalez (JVG) 31/10-2/11; Tafi del Valle (TV) 2-3/11; Quilmes Ruins (QR) 3/11; Cafayete (C) 4/11; Cachi (CH) 4-5/11; Los Cardones NP (LC) 5/11; and Cuesto del Obispo (CO) 5/11. Species/records in square brackets were heard only.

Greater rhea Rhea americana single JVG
Lesser rhea Rhea pennata 15+ at LP. Considered a separate species 'Puna rhea' by some
Tataupa tinamou Crypturellus tataupa single CNP, [P], two at JVG
Ornate tinamou Nothoprocta ornata poor views of a bird AP to H, two at Piedra de Molinos (CO)
Brushland tinamou Nothoprocta cinerascens JVG
Andean tinamou Nothoprocta pentlandii 3 at LL, 5+ above TV
Puna tinamou Tinamotis pentlandii pair near the Ranger Station at LP
Pied-billed grebe Podilymbus podiceps lakes and reservoirs
White-tufted grebe Podiceps rolland EDC, lake near TV, lake north of Salta
Neotropic cormorant Phalacrocorax olivaceus EDC, CNP
White-necked heron Ardea cocoi small numbers throughout
Whistling heron Syrigma sibilatrix north of Salta, EDC, CH to Salta
Great white egret Egretta alba EDC
Snowy egret Egretta thula north of Salta, EDC
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis widespread
Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax several singles noted at H, [CNP]
Wood stork Mycteria americana north of Salta, EDC, JVG to TV
Buff-necked ibis Theristicus caudatus P, JVG, C to CH, CH to Salta, ASL
Puna ibis Plegadis ridgwayi 15 at AP marsh
White-faced ibis Plegadis chihi north of Salta, EDC, JVG to TV
Roseate spoonbill Ajaia ajaja single near JVG
Chilean flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis single at Dique Los Alisos, 70+ at LP, small numbers at AP marsh
Andean flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus 10+ LP, small numbers at AP marsh
Puna flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi 15+ LP, small numbers at AP marsh
Muscovy duck Cairina moschata single at CNP
Comb duck Sarkidiornis melanotos two birds at JVG
Fulvous whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor lake north of Salta, EDC, Dique Los Alisos
White-faced whistling-duck Dendrocygna viduata 40+ at Dique Los Alisos
Coscoroba swan Coscoroba coscoroba 7 at lake near TV
Andean goose Chloephaga melanoptera LP, LL, AP marsh, lake near TV
Crested duck Anas specularoides LP, AP marsh
Brown pintail Anas georgica recorded in all suitable wetlands
Speckled teal Anas flavirostris LP, AP marsh, lake near TV
Red shoveler Anas platalea lake near TV
Cinnamon teal Anas cyanoptera recorded in all suitable wetlands
Puna teal Anas puna 2 at LP, 6+ at AP marsh
Torrent duck Merganetta armata single male at Yala on 21/10
Brazilian teal Amazonetta brasiliensis lake north of Salta, EDC
Ringed teal Callonetta leucophrys 2 birds at EDC on 20/10
Andean duck Oxyura ferruginea 40+ at lake near TV, lake north of Salta
Andean condor Vultur gryphus single P, 5 above TV, 15+ at top of CO
Turkey vulture Cathartes aura widespread but in smaller numbers than the following species
Black vulture Coragyps atratus widespread and frequently seen
King vulture Sarcoramphus papa 2 together at CNP
Black-chested buzzard-eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus single Y, 2 above TV
Swallow-tailed kite Elanoides forficatus up to 12 daily at CNP
White-tailed kite Elanus leucurus north of Salta, P, JVG, lake near TV
Plumbeous kite Ictinia plumbea CNP
Great black-hawk Buteogallus urubitinga single JVG
Snail kite Rostrhamus sociabilis only recorded at the lake north of Salta
Cinereous harrier Circus cinereus male at LP, female above TV
Gray hawk Asturina nitida CNP, JVG
Bicolored hawk Accipiter bicolor single seen well in flight on three dates
Sharp-shinned hawk Accipiter striatus single at CNP
Roadside hawk Buteo magnirostris widespread at lower elevations
Red-backed hawk Buteo polyosoma H, LP, above TV, CO
Puna hawk Buteo poecilochrous LP, AP. Lumped in Variable hawk Buteo polyosoma by Clements.
Savanna hawk Buteogallus meridionalis lake north of Salta, P, JVG
Mountain caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus LP, AP to LQ
Southern caracara Polyborus plancus widespread. Split by Clements.
Chimango caracara Milvago chimango EDC, JVG, C to CH, CH to Salta
Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus 2 at P
Aplomado falcon Falco femoralis LP, JVG, above TV
American kestrel Falco sparverius widespread in small numbers
Chaco chachalaca Ortalis canicollis frequently encountered in chaco
Dusky-legged guan Penelope obscura ASL, 2 seen well at CNP
Limpkin Aramus guarauna single en route to P
Giant coot Fulica gigantea 3 at LP
Andean coot Fulica ardesiaca only at lake near TV
Red-gartered coot Fulica armillata recorded in all suitable wetlands
White-winged coot Fulica leucoptera recorded in all suitable wetlands
Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus recorded in all suitable wetlands
Black-legged seriema Chunga burmeisteri single at P, single on roadside near Metan
[Red-legged seriema] Cariama cristata heard at km 1635 near ASL
Wattled jacana Jacana jacana only recorded on lake north of Salta
Andean avocet Recurvirostra andina 7 at LP, 15+ at AP marsh
South American stilt Himantopus melanurus recorded in all suitable wetlands
Southern lapwing Vanellus chilensis widespread
Andean lapwing Vanellus resplendens widespread at high elevations
American golden-plover Pluvialis dominica 2 birds near LQ in riverbed
Tawny-throated dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis 32+ at LP on 23/10, 10 next day, 4 at top of CO
Puna plover Charadrius alticola 20+ at LP only
Greater yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca EDC, LP, lake near TV
Baird's sandpiper Calidris bairdii EDC, LP, AP marsh, JVG to TV
Puna snipe Gallinago andina single at lake near TV
Stilt sandpiper Micropalama himantopus single at LP
Wilson's phalarope Phalaropus tricolor single at AP marsh
Grey-breasted seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus 5 at LP, 1 at LL, pair gave great views above TV
Andean gull Larus serranus LP, lake near TV, C to CH, CH to Salta
Brown-hooded gull Larus maculipennis single at EDC
Pale-vented pigeon Columba cayennensis 2 at CNP
Picazuro pigeon Columba picazuro north of Salta, chaco
Spot-winged pigeon Columba maculosa 2 at JVG, single C to CH
Feral pigeon Columba livia widespread
Eared dove Zenaida auriculata widespread
Picui ground-dove Columbina picui ASL, CNP, chaco
Ruddy ground-dove Columbina talpacoti 20+ at CNP
Black-winged ground-dove Metriopelia melanoptera H to AP, above TV (15), C to CH, CH to Salta
Golden-spotted ground-dove Metriopelia aymara 11+ at LP
Bare-eyed ground-dove Metriopelia morenoi H to AP (3), above TV (20+)
Bare-faced ground-dove Metriopelia ceciliae single in school playground at LQ
White-tipped dove Leptotila verreauxi ASL, CNP, JVG
White-faced dove Leptotila megalura 2 at ASL, CNP (regular)
White-throated quail-dove Geotrygon frenata single at CNP (others heard)
Golden-collared macaw Primolius auricollis 11 in total at CNP (2 dates)
Mitred parakeet Aratinga mitrata ASL, CNP, yungas at base of CO
Blue-crowned parakeet Aratinga acuticaudata P, JVG
Burrowing parakeet Cyanoliseus patagonus QR, C, C to CH, LC
Monk parakeet Myiopsitta monachus JVG
Green-cheeked parakeet Pyrrhura molinae ASL, CNP
Grey-hooded parakeet Bolborhynchus aymara 2 at Y, 6 above TV
Mountain parakeet Bolborhynchus aurifrons LP, LL, H to AP
Scaly-headed parrot Pionus maximiliani ASL
Blue-fronted parrot Amazona aestiva total of four at JVG (two dates)
Tucuman parrot Amazona tucumana 15+ on one date at CNP
Dark-billed cuckoo Coccyzus melacoryphus single at JVG (surprisingly scarce)
Smooth-billed ani Crotophaga ani small numbers in chaco region
Guira cuckoo Guira guira widespread at lower elevations
[Striped cuckoo] Tapera naevia [P], [JVG]
Squirrel cuckoo Piaya cayana CNP
Barn owl Tyto alba single near Jujuy pre-dawn
[Buff-fronted owl] Aegolius harrisii single taped in but remained unseen at ASL
Burrowing owl Speotyto cunicularia LP, LL, P, JVG
[Tropical screech-owl] Otus choliba heard at Y
Hoy's screech-owl Otus hoyi single at CNP and another at ASL
[Ferruginous pygmy-owl] Glaucidium brasilianum [chaco]
Yungas pygmy-owl Glaucidium bolivianum not sure if this is the correct Clements treatment for the bird we saw at CNP
Spectacled owl Pulsatrix perspicillata single seen well and two others heard at CNP, [ASL]
[Common potoo] Nyctibius griseus [ASL]
Rufous nightjar Caprimulgus rufus ASL, [CNP]
Little nightjar Caprimulgus parvulus P, JVG, [ASL]
Scissor-tailed nightjar Hydropsalis brasiliana ASL, P
[Lyre-tailed nightjar] Uropsalis lyra [ASL]
White-collared swift Streptoprocne zonaris Y
Rothschild's swift Cypseloides rothschildi 4 at Y
Ashy-tailed swift Chaetura andrei Y, CNP
Andean swift Aeronautes andecolus widespread in small numbers at high elevations except between C and CH where common.
Planalto hermit Phaethornis pretrei 3 at CNP
Red-tailed comet Sappho sparganura widespread at medium to high elevation
Andean hillstar Oreotrochilus estella single female between AP and H
Blue-tufted starthroat Heliomaster furcifer JVG
Sparkling violet-ear Colibri coruscans H, LC
Green violet-ear Colibri thalassinus single bird watched for some time in canopy at CNP was tentatively identified as this species
Blue-capped puffleg Eriocnemis glaucopoides 4 at CNP, single below TV
Speckled hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys 3 at CNP
Glittering-bellied emerald Chlorostilbon aureoventris ASL, Y, CNP, P, C to CH
White-bellied hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster ASL, Y, CNP, P
Slender-tailed woodstar Microstilbon burmeisteri single female at Y
Giant hummingbird Patagona gigas H, H to AP, QR, LC
Blue-crowned trogon Trogon curucui 5 at CNP
Ringed kingfisher Ceryle torquata CNP, below TV
Toco toucan Ramphastos toco seen on three dates at CNP
Spot-backed puffbird Nystalus maculatus P, JVG
Andean flicker Colaptes rupicola LL, LQ, above TV, CH to Salta
Green-barred woodpecker Colaptes melanochloros JVG, C to CH, ASL
Golden-green woodpecker Piculus chrysochloros CNP
Golden-olive woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus CNP
White-fronted woodpecker Melanerpes cactorum P, JVG, QR, C to CH
Checkered woodpecker Picoides mixtus P, JVG, C to CH
Dot-fronted woodpecker Veniliornis frontalis single female at CNP
White-barred piculet Picumnus cirratus ASL, CNP
Cream-backed woodpecker Campephilus leucopogon Y, near JVG
Scimitar-billed woodcreeper Drymornis bridgesii single at JVG
Narrow-billed woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes angustirostris ASL, EDC, CNP, P, JVG
Olivaceous woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus ASL, CNP
Rufous-banded miner Geositta rufipennis widespread at higher elevations
Common miner Geositta cunicularia AP marsh (1)
Puna miner Geositta punensis LP, LL, AP to LQ
Slender-billed miner Geositta tenuirostris single at LL, 2 above TV
Buff-breasted earthcreeper Upucerthia validirostris single H to AP, 3 above TV
Plain-breasted earthcreeper Upucerthia jelskii LL (2)
Chaco earthcreeper Upucerthia certhioides P (1), JVG (2)
Rock earthcreeper Upucerthia andaecola single AP to H, CO (3)
White-winged cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis H to LP, AP to LQ, above TV
Bar-winged cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus H to AP, above TV
Rufous hornero Furnarius rufus widespread at lower elevations
Crested hornero Furnarius cristatus JVG
Brown cacholote Pseudoseisura lophotes JVG
White-throated cacholote Pseudoseisura gutturalis single at QR
Stripe-crowned spinetail Cranioleuca pyrrhophia ASL, CNP, JVG
Short-billed canastero Asthenes baeri P. [JVG], C
Chestnut canastero Asthenes steinbachi 2 above TV
Creamy-breasted canastero Asthenes dorbignyi H, LL, H to AP, C to CH, CH to Salta
Cordilleran canastero Asthenes modesta south of AP, LL, above TV
Cordoba canastero Asthenes sclateri 2 above TV
Buff-browed spinetail Synallaxis superciliosa 2 at Y, CNP, CO. Lumped within Azara's spinetail S. azarae in Clements.
Sooty-fronted spinetail Synallaxis frontalis CNP, ASL
Pale-breasted spinetail Synallaxis albescens JVG
Ochre-cheeked spinetail Synallaxis scutata CNP
Brown-capped tit-spinetail Leptasthenura fuliginiceps 1 at km 78 (above TV), 1 at CO
Plain-mantled tit-spinetail Leptasthenura aegithaloides widespread at higher elevations
Rufous-fronted thornbird Phacellodomus rufifrons EDC, P
Streak-fronted thornbird Phacellodomus striaticeps LP, LL, AP to H
Little thornbird Phacellodomus sibilatrix JCG, C
Spotted-breasted thornbird Phacellodomus maculipectus pair at Y on 21/10
Buff-browed foliage-gleaner Syndactyla rufosuperciliata ASL, Y, CNP, below TV
Streaked xenops Xenops rutilans 2 on one date at CNP
Giant antshrike Batara cinerea single male responded very well to tape playback at CNP
Rufous-capped antshrike Thamnophilus ruficapillus Y, CNP, ASL
Variable antshrike Thamnophilus caerulescens CNP, P, JVG
Great antshrike Taraba major JVG (2 males)
Stripe-backed antbird Myrmorchilus strigilatus single male at JVG
White-throated antpitta Grallaria albigula 5 birds at CNP
Crested gallito Rhinocrypta lanceolata JVG
Sandy gallito Teledromas fuscus 2+ at C
White-browed tapaculo Scytalopus superciliaris 1 below TV and 1 above
Crested becard Pachyramphus validus single male at Y
Grey-bellied shrike-tyrant Agriornis microptera 2 at LC
Black-billed shrike-tyrant Agriornis montana LL, H to AP, LQ, above TV
White monjita Xolmis irupero widespread at lower elevations
Spot-billed ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola maculirostris LL, above TV
Rufous-naped ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola rufivertex H to AP
Andean negrito Lessonia oreas LP, AP marsh
White-browed chat-tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys 6+ above TV, CH to Salta
D'Orbigny's chat-tyrant Ochthoeca oenanthoides H, LL, AP to LQ, AP to H, CH to Salta
Spectacled tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus widespread wetland species
Black phoebe Sayornis nigricans near Salta, CNP, below TV
Cinereous tyrant Knipolegus striaticeps female at P
Andean tyrant Knipolegus signatus Single female at QR. Split by some as K. cabanisi.
White-winged black-tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus north of Jujuy, QR, C to CH, CH to Salta, ASL
Sooty tyrannulet Serpophaga nigricans single on small stream en route to ASL on two dates
White-crested tyrannulet Serpophaga subcristata ASL, Y, CNP
White-bellied tyrannulet Serpophaga munda C to CH
Cattle tyrant Machetornis rixosus scattered records throughout
Yellow-browed tyrant Satrapa icterophrys ASL, P
Great kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus widespread at lower elevations
Variegated flycatcher Empidonomus varius Y, CNP, P
Streaked flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus widespread in forested habitat
Tropical kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus widespread
Fork-tailed flycatcher Tyrannus savana widespread
Crowned slaty-flycatcher Empidonomus aurantioatrocristatus P, JVG
Rufous casiornis Casiornis rufa 2 birds along river at CNP
Brown-crested flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus single at P
Dusky-capped flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer Y, ASL, CNP
Smoke-colored pewee Contopus fumigatus Y (1), CNP (2)
Scrub flycatcher Sublegatus modestus JVG
Streak-throated bush-tyrant Myiotheretes striaticollis Y (1)
Cliff flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea single en route to JVG, common between C and CH
Cinnamon flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea CNP, below TV
Bran-colored flycatcher Myiophobus fasciatus north of Yala, JVG, ASL
Euler's flycatcher Lathrotriccus euleri 2 at CNP
Ochre-faced tody-flycatcher Todirostrum plumbeiceps CNP
Pearly-vented tody-tyrant Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer JVG
Mottle-cheeked tyrannulet Phylloscartes ventralis ASL, CNP, below TV
Tawny-crowned pygmy-tyrant Euscarthmus meloryphus P, JVG
Vermilion flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus 2 at lake north of Salta
Greater wagtail-tyrant Stigmatura budytoides P, JVG, C
Yellow-billed tit-tyrant Anairetes flavirostris north of H, LC
Tufted tit-tyrant Anairetes parulus single at EDC
White-throated tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys ASL, Y, CNP, below TV
Highland elaenia Elaenia obscura ASL, Y, CNP, below TV
Large elaenia Elaenia spectabilis P, JVG
Slaty elaenia Elaenia strepera frequently encountered at CNP
White-crested elaenia Elaenia albiceps near ASL, EDC
Small-billed elaenia Elaenia parvirostris ASL, JVG, below TV
Grey elaenia Myiopagis caniceps CNP
Mouse-colored tyrannulet Phaeomyias murina CO
Southern beardless-tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum JVG
Sclater's tyrannulet Phyllomyias sclateri CNP, below TV
White-tipped plantcutter Phytotoma rutila JVG, C to CH, CH to Salta
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica widespread
Southern martin Progne elegans CNP, C to CH
Brown-chested martin Phaeoprogne tapera EDC, CNP, P
White-rumped swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa EDC, JVG
Blue-and-white swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca Y, H, TV to C
Tawny-headed swallow Stelgidopteryx fucata EDC, CNP, C to CH
Plush-crested jay Cyanocorax chrysops widespread in forested habitat
Rufous-throated dipper Cinclus schulzi single at Y on 19/10
Grass wren Cistothorus platensis CH
House wren Troglodytes aedon widespread
Mountain wren Troglodytes solstitialis ASL, CNP, below TV
Brown-backed mockingbird Mimus dorsalis H, LQ, AP to H
Patagonian mockingbird Mimus patagonicus H, H to AP, TV to C, CH to Salta
Swainson`s thrush Catharus ustulatus ASL, CNP
Creamy-bellied thrush Turdus amaurochalinus chaco
Rufous-bellied thrush Turdus rufiventris ASL, CNP
White-necked thrush Turdus albicollis single in fruiting tree along entrance road at CNP
Andean slaty thrush Turdus nigriceps CNP (common)), below TV
Chiguanco thrush Turdus chiguanco widespread in Andes
Glossy-black thrush Turdus serranus CNP
Short-billed pipit Anthus furcatus 2 at LP, AP marsh
Correndera pipit Anthus correndera lake near TV
Hellmayr's pipit Anthus hellmayri above TV, top of CO
Masked gnatcatcher Polioptila dumicola P, JVG
Red-eyed vireo Vireo olivaceus Y, CNP, JVG
Rufous-browed peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis ASL, CNP, P
Two-banded warbler Basileuterus bivittatus ASL, CNP
Pale-legged warbler Basileuterus signatus CNP
Brown-capped redstart Myioborus brunniceps ASL, Y, CNP, below TV, CO
Tropical parula Parula pitiayumi ASL, Y, CNP, JVG, CO
Masked yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis single near JVG
Chestnut-vented conebill Conirostrum speciosum CNP (2)
Purple-throated euphonia Euphonia chlorotica CNP
Guira tanager Hemithraupis guira CNP (1 male)
Common bush-tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus ASL, Y, CNP, below TV
Sayaca tanager Thraupis sayaca ASL, Y CNP, P, JVG, below TV, CO
Fawn-breasted tanager Pipraeidea melanonota ASL, CNP
Hepatic tanager Piranga flava EDC, CNP
Blue-and-yellow tanager Thraupis bonariensis ASL, Y, P, JVG, below TV
Rust-and-yellow tanager Thlypopsis ruficeps CNP, below TV
Orange-headed tanager Thlypopsis sordida ASL, CNP
Golden-billed saltator Saltator aurantiirostris ASL, Y, H to AP, P, JVG, below TV
Rufous-bellied saltator Saltator rufiventris single in quebrada in CO
Greyish saltator Saltator coerulescens north of Salta, EDC, CNP
Red-crested cardinal Paroaria coronata JVG
Black-backed grosbeak Pheucticus aureoventris ASL, Y, CNP (scarce), JVG (1)
Saffron-billed sparrow Arremon flavirostris ASL, CNP
Stripe-headed brush-finch Alapetes torquatus ASL, CNP
Fulvous-headed brush-finch Alapetes fulviceps Y, ASL, CNP
Yellow-striped brush-finch Alapetes citrinellus 2 birds responded well to pishing below TV
Ultramarine grosbeak Cyanocompsa brissonii ASL, P, JVG
Blue-black grassquit Volatinia jacarina CNP
Dull-colored grassquit Tiaris obscura ASL
Band-tailed seedeater Catamenia analis north of Salta, above TV, C to CH
Plain-colored seedeater Catamenia inornata Y, H to AP, LL, TV to C
Common diuca-finch Diuca diuca 2 birds in LQ, 30+ LC
Saffron finch Sicalis flaveola widespread at lower elevations
Bright-rumped yellow-finch Sicalis uropygialis AP (centre), AP to LQ
Puna yellow-finch Sicalis lutea H to AP, LL, AP to LQ
Greenish yellow-finch Sicalis olivascens H, H to AP, LL, AP to LQ, C to CH, Ch to Salta
Citron-headed yellow-finch Sicalis luteocephala 9+ in LQ schoolyard
Band-tailed sierra-finch Phrygilus alaudinus LL, 20+ AP to LQ, TV to C
Plumbeous sierra-finch Phrygilus unicolor above TV
Ash-breasted sierra-finch Phrygilus plebejus H to AP, LL, CH to Salta
Grey-hooded sierra-finch Phrygilus gayi TV to C, QR, C to CH, CH to Salta
Black-hooded sierra-finch Phrygilus atriceps H, H to AP, LL
Mourning sierra-finch Phrygilus fruticeti H, H to AP, LL, CH to Salta
Red-crested finch Coryphospingus cucullatus ASL, CNP, P, JVG
Stripe-capped sparrow Aimophila strigiceps EDC, JVG, ASL
Rufous-collared sparrow Zonotrichia capensis ubiquitous, occurring at all elevations
Tucuman mountain-finch Poospiza baeri 2 at km 78 (TV) and 1 at CO
Cinnamon warbling-finch Poospiza ornata 1 at C
Rusty-browed warbling-finch Poospiza erythrophrys ASL, Y
Rufous-sided warbling-finch Poospiza hypochondria 1 just north of Yala in floodplain thornforest, 8 outside CH
Black-and-chestnut warbling-finch Poospiza whitii EDC
Ringed warbling-finch Poospiza torquata TV to C, C to CH
Black-capped warbling-finch Poospiza melanoleuca CNP, P, JVG
Many-colored chaco-finch Saltatricula multicolor JVG, C
Great pampa-finch Embernagra platensis ASL, Y, H, P, JVG, C to CH
Black siskin Carduelis atrata 8+ between H and AP
Hooded siskin Carduelis magellanica widespread
Thick-billed siskin Carduelis crassirostris 4+ between H and AP
Crested oropendola Psarocolius decumanus Y (1), CNP
Golden-winged cacique Cacicus chrysopterus ASL, Y, CNP
Solitary cacique Cacicus solitarius 3 at JVG
Screaming cowbird Molothrus rufoaxillaris JVG
Shiny cowbird Molothrus bonariensis widespread
Bay-winged cowbird Molothrus badius lake north of Salta, H to AP
Chestnut-capped blackbird Agelaius ruficapillus colony in small roadside wetland JVG to TV
Yellow-winged blackbird Agelaius thilius C to CH
Long-tailed meadowlark Sturnella loyca north of Yala, C to CH. Clements probably includes this race within Peruvian meadowlark S. bellicosa?
House sparrow Passer domesticus present in urban areas

Phil Benstead is a freelance birder based in the UK and is available to lead tours to Northern Argentina.


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