Our Beautiful World

The Andes, Fauna and Nature  

Part 2. Chile

Animals, birds and flowers on this page:

Andean Goose, Chloephaga melanoptera
Andean Fox, Lycalopex culpaeus
Monkey-puzzle Tree,
Araucaria araucana
Different birds
Chilean mole mouse,
Geoxus valdivianus
Chilean Cedar,
Austrocedrus chilensis
Lizards, Liolaemus
. Spiders and Frogs .
. . .


Monkey-puzzle Tree, Araucaria araucana

Chilean araucarias, Araucaria araucana,
Parque Nacional Conguillo, Chile.

Araucaria araucana (popularly called the Monkey-puzzle Tree or Monkey Tail Tree) is an evergreen tree growing to
40 metres tall with a 2 metres trunk diameter. The tree is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina.
Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. Because of the species's great age it is
sometimes described as a living fossil. it can live possibly as long as 1,000 years.
Araucaria araucana is the national tree of Chile.

Female and male cones
Photo MPF and Kurt Stüber

The leaves are thick, tough and scale-like, triangular, 3–4 cm long, 1–3 cm broad at the base, and with sharp edges and tip.
They persist for 10–15 years or more, so cover most of the tree except for the older branches.

Monkey Puzzle Tree, Araucaria araucana,
in the southern Andes of Chile
Photo: BillyKwiki

It is usually dioecious, with the male and female cones on separate trees, though occasional individuals bear cones of both
sexes. The male (pollen) cones are oblong and cucumber-shaped, 4 cm long at first, expanding to 8–12 cm long by 5–6 cm
broad at pollen release. The tree is wind pollinated. The female (seed) cones, which mature in autumn about 18 months
after pollination, are globose, large, 12–20 cm diameter, and hold about 200 seeds. The cones disintegrate at maturity to
release the 3–4 cm long nut-like seeds, which are then dispersed by jays and


Chilean araucarias, PN Conguillo.

If Peruvian Andes are the most biologically diverse, the Andes of Chile are the most beautiful.
They look like a mirror image of the Pacific Coast of North America, but with totally different flora and fauna.

Lush forests of Central and Southern Chile are an ecological island,
isolated from the rest of the continent by deserts and mountains,
but sharing some ancient plants and animals with New Zealand

Andean Goose, Chloephaga melanoptera

Andean geese, Chloephaga melanoptera, PN Lauca

The Andean Goose, Chloephaga melanoptera, is a member
of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. It is in the shelduck
subfamily Tadorninae.

It is resident around lakes and marshes in the high Andes, usually
well above 3000 m. It is largely terrestrial and avoids swimming
except in emergencies.

This heavily built bird has a tiny pink bill and white plumage
except for black in the wings and tail.
The female is similar to the male, but is smaller.

The Andean Goose is a grazing species, eating grasses.
It nests on the ground in a bare scrape near water,
laying 6-10 eggs.

It is territorial in the breeding season, but otherwise forms small flocks.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andean_Goose

Photo: Arpingstone

Andean Fox, Lycalopex culpaeus

Andean Fox, Dusicyon culpaeus,
Fray Jorje,
The culpeo, Lycalopex culpaeus, sometimes known as the culpeo zorro
or Andean fox (wolf), is a South American species of wild dog. It is the
second largest native canid on the continent after the maned wolf.
In its appearance it bears many similarities to the widely recognized red fox.
It has grey and reddish fur, a white chin, reddish legs, and a stripe on its
back that may be barely visible.

The culpeo's diet consists largely of rodents, rabbits, birds and lizards,
and to a lesser extent, plant material and carrion. The culpeo does attack
sheep on occasion, and is therefore often hunted or poisoned. In some
regions it has become rare, but overall the species is not threatened with

Central Chile has Mediterranean climate, changing into absolute desert further north.
Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas at the edge of the desert is a good place to see rare rodents,
birds, and other creatures. Spotlighting for small mammals is especially good there.

Chilean mole mouse, Geoxus valdivianus
Lizards, Liolaemus
Chilean Cedar, Austrocedrus chilensis


Chilean mole mouse,
Geoxus valdivianus,

Chilean cedar
Austrocedrus chilensis, Conguillo
At least fifty species of
Liolaemus lizards
occur throughout Chile.
P N Rio Clarillo.

Geoxus valdivianus, also known as the Long-clawed Mole Mouse or Valdivian Long-clawed Akodont, is a species of rodent in the tribe Abrotrichini of family Cricetidae found in the Valdivian temperate rain forests and Magellanic subpolar
forests of Argentina and Chile. It is the only species in the genus Geoxus.

Liolaemus is a genus of iguanian lizard with many species found in South America. Some species have been recently kept as
pets and as many of them originate from regions that experience cold conditions, they are named snow swifts.
More generally, the genus is known as tree iguanas.

There are more than 190 described species but the true number of species is estimated to be about double this number.
Liolaemus is by far the largest genus of the liolaemid lizards, which are traditionally treated as subfamily Liolaeminae
within the Iguanidae but more recently were proposed for upranking to full family Liolaemidae.

Members of this genus form a dominant part of the lizard fauna of the southern part of the continent and vary considerably in
size (between 45 and 100 mm snout-vent length) and weight (from 3 to 200 g). They can be found in a variety of habitats from sea-level to elevations of 4500 m. Most are omnivorous but a few purely insectivorous and herbivorous species are known.

Austrocedrus is a genus of conifer belonging to the cypress family Cupressaceae. It has only one species, Austrocedrus
, native to the Valdivian temperate rain forests and the adjacent drier steppe-forests of central-southern Chile and
western Argentina from 33°S to 44°S latitude. It is known in its native area as Ciprés de la Cordillera or Cordilleran Cypress,
and elsewhere by the scientific name as Austrocedrus, or sometimes as Chilean Incense-cedar or Chilean Cedar.
The generic name means "southern cedar".

Ciprés de Cordillera, Austrocedrus chilensis

It is a slow-growing, narrowly conical evergreen tree which grows from 10–24 m in height, with scale-like leaves arranged
in decussate pairs. The leaves are unequal in size, with pairs of larger (4–8 mm) leaves alternating with pairs of smaller
(2–3 mm) leaves, giving a flattened shoot. Each leaf has a prominent white stomatal stripe along the outer edge.
The cones are 5–10 mm long, with four scales, two very small sterile basal scales and two large fertile scales; each fertile
scale has two winged seeds 3–4 mm long.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrocedrus

Chilean National parks are usually much more diverse, more scenic,
and less crouded than similar parks in adjacent Argentina.
Transportation in Chile, either by a rental car or public transport, is much cheaper and more effective.
My personal favorites in Valdivian forest zone are Conguillo and Alerce National Parks.

Laguna Arco Iris,
(Rainbow Lake),
Parque Nacional Conguillo.

Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, Chile.

Laguna Arco Iris,
Photo: AndyUrbina

One of the most wonderful places in the Conguillio National Park, The water is incredibly clear,
I reached behind the lagoon, unaware that this was there, this lake is located next to the main road and
there is a viewpoint that is enabled on one side of it, can be seen in its entirety. Is small and its appeal lies
in the emerald water so crystal clear that they give the impression of looking through a prism. Here the
transition between vegetation and volcanic debris is abrupt. Impressive to see the contrast between gray
lava and hills beyond lush .. All for concecuencia of Laima volcano eruptions.
By Pablo Olivera, http://www.minube.com/rincon/laguna-arcoiris--lago-conguillio-a120744

A naturalist would find them even more interesting, because almost
all animals and plants there are unique for Chile and adjacent parts of Argentina.

But also the birds are of interest:

bird bird
White-crested elaenias,
Elaenia albiceps,

Chilean mockingbird, Mimus thenca, Temuco.

ARKive video - Chilean mockingbird - overview
Chilespottefugl, Mimus thenca - Overview
© German Pugnali, Joe Angseesing

bird bird
Tufted tit-tyrant
Anairetes parulus,

Birds of Central Chile, upper row, left to right: Chilean pigeon, Columba araucana, (2 photos),
striped woodpecker, Picoides lignarius, Austral blackbird Curaeus curaeus,
rufous-tipped plantcutter, Phytotoma rara, (two photos);
medium row: grey-hooded sierra-finch, Phrygilus gayi,
least seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus;

Des Mur's wiretail, Sylviorthorhynchus desmuirsii, PN Alerce Andino.

Chile is a birdwatcher's paradise. Most birds are easy to find and see,
even those that are very shy in other parts of South America,
such as tapaculos, Rhinocryptidae.
All nine Chilean species can be seen with little effort within a few days.
Raptors, owls, even flamingos tend to be easily approachable.


Tapaculos of Chile, left to right: black-throated huet-huet , Pteroptochos tarnii, (2 photos),
moustached turca, Pteroptochos. megapodius, chestnut-throated huet-huet, Pteroptochos. castaneus. Alerce Andino, Rio Clarillo, and Laguna de Laja National Parks, respectively.

Numerous weird and beautiful creatures hide under logs, loose bark, dry leaves, and rocks in Chilean forests.
Identifying them can be difficult, because the area is inadequately studied, and little literature is available.

Sadopuphos, worl's largest opilionid.
Isla Chiloe.

Psychsophricus spider,
Rio Clarillo.


Batrachyla frogs, PN Alerce Andino.

Baby Bufo toad,
Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas, Chile.

Part 3. Patagonia

Tilbake til Part 1

All pictures, unless otherwise stated, Copyright © Vladimir Dinets


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