Our Beautiful World

The Andes, Fauna and Nature  

Part 4. Tierra del Fuego

Animals, birds and flowers on this page:

Flying Steamer duck,
Tachyeres patachonicus
Gray Fox, Lycalopex griseus Notophagus trees
Cinereous Harrier, Circus cinereus . Austral sundew, Drosera uniflora
Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango
Two unidentified orchids.
Rufous-tailed Hawk, Buteo ventralis . .
Black-faced Ibis, Theristicus melanopis
. .
Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata . .
Austral Negrito, Lessonia rufa . .
Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope . .
Southern Lapwing, Vanellus chilensis . .

From a rearranged translation of Vladimir Dinets original pages to norwegian, with supplements.

Klikk på flagg for norsk versjon

Pages for Latin America

Terra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego and the Falklands are very different from other Scotia Sea islands.
They have relatively mild maritime climate. Despite being cool and windy places, they also have diverse flora and fauna.

Tierra del Fuego is particularly similar to mainland Patagonia. This is not surprising: the Strait of Magellan is less than 1 km wide in
some places. The northeastern part of Isla Grande (the main island) is relatively flat. The rest is a labyrinth of mountains, fjords, and
rocky islets - a continuation of the Andes deeply transformed by glaciation. Tides reach 15 m in some places. Strong tidal currents
form highly productive intertidal zone where numerous invertebrates, fishes, and birds find abundant food.

Tidal current, Strait of Magellan.

Aerial view of Isla Grande, Tierra del Fuego

Aerial view of Isla Navarino.
Cape Horn Islands are visible on the horizon

Flying Steamer duck, Tachyeres patachonicus

Flying Steamer duck, Tachyeres patachonicus. In Chile it is called 'Quetru volador'
©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Flying Steamer Duck, Tachyeres patachonicus, is a steamer duck. It is the most widespread steamer duck,
resident in southern Chile and Argentina, Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. Its plumage is very similar to
the other three steamer ducks. It is the only steamer duck which can fly, and the only one to occur on inland fresh

Steamer-ducks are so named because they run across the water using their feet for propulsion and their wings as a
sort of splashing support as can be seen in photos 1 to 4. This reminded early sailors of a paddle steamer.

Another distinguishing feature of the Flying Steamer-duck is that it usually shows a long, up-curled tail when swimming.
This was noticeable on the bird in photo above.
Source: different

Most previous observers agreed that steamingbirds power themselves rapidly overt he surface of the water using
their feet and wings, producing substantial spray and turbulence. Steaming birds attain estimated speeds of up to
40 km/hour, and one has seen birds steam without pause for 1 km or more. Steaming is used both for escape and
for attackd uring territorial encounters
Source: "Mechanics of Steaming in Steamer-ducks" by Livezey & Humphrey in Auk, April 1983.

Eastern Isla Grande is covered with beautiful tallgrass steppe inhabited by rheas, guanacos and geese.
The rest of the island is mostly forested.

Cinereous Harrier, Circus cinereus



Cinereous harriers (Circus cinereus),
Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego.

The Cinereous Harrier, Circus cinereus, is a South American bird of prey of the harrier family. Its breeding range extends from the
Tierra del Fuego through Argentina and Chile to Bolivia, Paraguay and southern Brasil; and across the Andes north to Colombia.

The term cinereous describes its colouration. The male's plumage is dark grey above with black wingtips and a white rump.
The underparts are pale grey, with a rufous streaked belly. The female's plumage is brown above, with a white rump, and cream
coloured underneath, with a streaked belly similar to the males.

A male Cinereous Harrier flying in Capão do Leão, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Photo: Cláudio Dias Timm

The female is larger than the male with an average size of 46 cm compared to the male's 40 cm. The wingspan is 90–115 cm.
Since the 44.5 cm tail comprises about 56% of this raptor's total length, this species ties with the Long-tailed Hawk as the raptor
with the longest tail relative to its body size.

This bird can be found in different open habitats, ranging from lowland marshes to the Andean Altiplano at a maximum altitude of
4500 metres. Like other harriers it nests on the ground. It is usually considered to be sedentary.

Its diet is variable, due to a wide range and variety of habitats. Its usual prey are small rodents and birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinereous_Harrier

Lush forests of Tierra del Fuego are dominated by Southern beeches (Notophagus).
Fall Colors are beautiful here. Thanks to the extremely wet climate,
these forests are broken in many places by lakes, peat bogs and fast-flowing rivers.
Although most plants and animals here are the same as in nearby Chilean Andes,
some are endemic or shared only with the Falkland Islands.

Notophagus trees

Spark bumblebee
Bombus igneus,
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.

Notophagus forest,
Parque Nacional Queluat.

Spark bumblebee
Bombus igneus,
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.

Nothofagus antarcticus,
Terra del Fuego.

Nothofagus forest,
Terra del Fuego.

Nothofagus pumilio,
Chaiten, Chile

From left to right: Notophagus pumuilio (lenga), Notophagus antarctica (ñire),
Notophagus betuloides (guindo), Drimys winteri (canelo)


Nothofagus, also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 36 species of trees and shrubs native to the temperate oceanic to
tropical Southern Hemisphere in southern South America (Chile, Argentina) and Australasia (east and southeast Australia, Tasmania,
New Zealand, New Guinea and New Caledonia). In the past, they were included in the family Fagaceae.

The leaves are toothed or entire, evergreen or deciduous. The fruit is a small, flattened or triangular nut, borne in cupules
containing two to seven nuts.

Nothofagus species are used as food plants by the larvae of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus, including Aaenetus eximia and
Aenetus virescens.

Many individual trees are extremely old, and at one time it was believed that some populations could not reproduce in present-day
conditions at the location where they were growing, except by suckering (clonal reproduction), being remnant forest from a cooler
time. It has since been shown that sexual reproduction may occur, but distribution in cool, isolated high-altitude environments at
temperate and tropical latitudes is consistent with the theory that the genus was more prolific in a cooler age.

Antarctic Beech, Nothofagus antarctica
Photo: Wouter Hagens

Antarctic Beech, Nothofagus antarctica (in Spanish Ñire or Ñirre), is a deciduous tree or shrub native to southern Chile and
Argentina from about 36°S to Tierra del Fuego (56° S). The southernmost occurrence is on Hoste Island, making it the
southernmost trees on earth. It grows mainly in the diminishing temperate rainforests.

It typically grows 10–25 m tall and has a slender trunk with scaly bark. The leaves are simple and alternate, growing 2-4.5 cm long,
and often viscid, with a sweetly scented wax. The leaf color is medium green, becoming yellow to orange in the fall.
They are broadly ovate to triangular, crinkly, rounded at the tips, irregularly and minutely toothed. The flowers are inconspicuous
yellow-green catkins. The fruit is a 6 mm, very fragrant 4-valved capsule containing three small nuts.

Lenga Beech , Nothofagus pumilio, (or Lenga) is a deciduous tree or shrub in the Nothofagaceae family that is native to the
southern Andes range, in the temperate forests of Chile and Argentina to Tierra del Fuego, from 35° to 56° South latitude.
This tree is in the same genus as the Coihue. It regenerates easily after fires. The wood has good quality, moderate durable,
easy-to-work. It is used in furniture, shingles and construction and sometimes as a substitute for American Black Cherry in the
manufacturing of cabinets.

Magellan's beech, Nothofagus betuloides
Photo: Jorge Vallmitjana

Magellan's beech, Nothofagus betuloides, is sometimes known by the common name guindo, is native to southern Patagonia.
In 1769 Sir Joseph Banks collected a specimen of the tree in Tierra del Fuego during Captain Cook's first voyage.[1]

Nothofagus betuloides grows from southern Chile and southern Argentina (40°S) to Tierra del Fuego (56°S), specimens from the
southern forests resist temperatures down to -20°C. It is found from sea level to 500 meters. It is an evergreen tree,
up to 25 meters, columnar appearance, in its natural environment it tolerates cold winters and absence of heat in summer
Source: different Wikipedia with the latin names

Austral sundew, Drosera uniflora

Dog orchid,
Bipinnula triangulatum
Tierra del Fuego NP .

Austral sundew, Drosera uniflora,
en innsektetende plante,
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.

Beech orchid,
Cavilea lutea,
Tierra del Fuego NP.

Dog orchid, Bipinnula triangulatum or possibly White Dog Orchid, but have not been able to find any information.

Drosera uniflora, is a species in the carnivorous plant genus Drosera that is native to southern Chile, Argentina,
and the Falkland Islands. It was originally described in 1809 by the botanist Carl Ludwig Willdenow.

Beech orchid, Cavilea lutea, Not able to find this one either. Information wanted. E-mail address on bottom of page.

Tierra del Fuego is a great place for birdwatching, especially in October,
when summer migrants already arrive from the North, but wintering Antarctic seabirds are still present.
Summer and fall months (up to April) are also great.

Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango




Chimango Caracara,
Milvago chimango,
Tierra del Fuego.
Rufous-tailed Hawk,
Buteo ventralis,
Lago Fangano,
Tierra del Fuego.
Black-faced Ibis,
Theristicus melanopis,
Porvenir, Tierra del Fuego.
Thorn-tailed Rrayadito
Aphrastura spinicauda,
Tierra del Fuego NP

Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango
©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Chimango Caracara, Milvago chimango, also known as Tiuque, is a species of bird of prey in the Falconidae family.

It is found in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is a vagrant to the Falkland Islands. Its natural habitats are
subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, temperate grassland, and heavily degraded
former forest. It is a commonly known fact that natives of the region do not commonly waste gunpowder on Chimangos.

Food is first of all carcass, but as seen here,
also frogs
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

This bird is typically found at edges of water, in hills, in fields, the latter especially if they are newly ploughed. An example habitat
for this bird is in the La Campana National Park dry forest in the low elevation hills of central Chile; in this location, one of the
dominant trees is the endangered Chilean wine palm.

ARKive video - Chimango caracara - overview
Chimango caracara, Milvago chimango - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit

Length: 37 to 40 cm. A typical Chimango has a mantle and back edged with cinnamon brown feathers and white. Neck, chest, abdomen and belly light brown. Head dark brown. It is the smallest variety of caracara. Wings dark brown stripe and white in the basal half of the primaries. The tail is light brown with dark brown terminal band. Eyes are brown. Peak color based clearer. Legs are light gray in the male and yellowish in the female.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimango_Caracara

Rufous-tailed Hawk, Buteo ventralis

The Rufous-tailed Hawk, Buteo ventralis, is a species of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family.
The Rufous-tailed Hawk is found in southern Argentina and Chile, including the entire region of Tierra del Fuego.
Its natural habitats are temperate forests, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland,
and temperate grassland. .

Source: Wikipedia

Buteo ventralis is endemic to the lower Andes of Patagonia in southern Chile and Argentina, where it is rare, occurring at naturally
low densities. No data is available regarding numbers or densities, and there is no firm evidence of a decline, but its habitat has
suffered extensive degradation and some authorities consider that the total populations is unlikely to exceed 1,000 individuals

It inhabits the ecotone between Nothofagus forest and steppe grassland from sea level to at least 1,200 m
Major Threats: Its habitat has been negatively affected by logging and overgrazing since the introduction of sheep and cattle.
Source: BirdLife International 2008. Buteo ventralis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 March 2012.
Pictures wanted! E-mail adress at bottom of page.

Black-faced Ibis, Theristicus melanopis

Black-faced Ibis, Theristicus melanopis. Picture shows a juvenile and an adult bird.
©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Black-faced Ibis, Theristicus melanopis, is a species of bird in the Threskiornithidae family. It is found in grassland and
fields in southern and western South America.

The nominate subspecies of the Black-faced Ibis is mainly found in southern South America, ranging throughout most of southern
and central Argentina and Chile, where it occurs from sea-level to an altitude of approximately 2,500 metres. It also occurs very
locally in coastal Peru. While it remains fairly common in Argentina and Chile, this subspecies has now been almost entirely
extirpated from the Peruvian part of its range.

Black-faced Ibis, Theristicus melanopis. No more insects, snakes or frogs, so ready for take-off.
©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The subspecies branickii is restricted to altitudes of 3,000 to 5,000 metres in the Andean highlands of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.
It is generally uncommon, and formerly also occurred in Lauca in far northern Chile.

It has a total length of approximately 75 centimetres. In the nominate subspecies the head, neck and lower chest are buffish, the
crown and nape are cinnamon, the upperparts and (often incomplete) chest-band are grey, the belly and flight feathers are black,
and the wing-coverts are whitish (though not contrasting strongly with the grey upperparts). The bill, throat-wattle and bare skin
around the eyes are blackish and the legs are red. In the subspecies branickii the throat-wattle is smaller, the bill is shorter,
the wing-coverts are greyer, the lower chest is paler and the cinnamon on the crown and nape is brighter and more extensive.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-faced_Ibis

Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata







Birds of Tierra del Fuego National Park, left to right: male and female Magellanic Woodpecker, Campephilus magellanicus,
Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata, male and female Austral Negrito, Lessonia rufa, Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope,
and Southern Lapwing, Vanellus chilensis.

Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata. Brazilian name:martim-pescador-grande
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata, is a large, conspicuous and noisy kingfisher, commonly found along the lower Rio Grande
River valley in southeasternmost Texas in the United States through Central America to Tierra del Fuego in South America.

The breeding habitat is areas near large bodies of water, usually in heavily wooded areas where it finds a perch to hunt from.
It is mostly a sedentary species, remaining in territories all year long.

It is 40–41 cm long, with deep blue or bluish-gray plumage with white markings, a shaggy crest and a broad white collar around the neck.
Its most distinguishing characteristic is the entire rufous belly, which also covers the entire breast of the male. Females are more colorful
than the male (i.e., reverse sexual dimorphism) and have a bluish-gray breast and a narrow white stripe separating the breast from the belly.

Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata
The female seen here has a broad grey chest band above the rufous belly
rather than the all rufous underparts of the male.
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

These birds nest in a horizontal tunnel made in a river bank or sand bank. The female lays 3 to 6 eggs. Both parents excavate the tunnel,
incubate the eggs and feed the young.

It is often seen perched prominently on trees, posts, or other suitable "watchpoints" close to water before plunging in head first after its
fish prey. They also eat small mammals, insects, small reptiles and berries.

Their voice is a loud, penetrating rattle given on the wing and when perched.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringed_Kingfisher

Austral Negrito, Lessonia rufa

Lessonia rufa, male
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Austral Negrito or Patagonian Negrito, Lessonia rufa, is a species of bird in the Tyrannidae family. It breeds in Argentina and Chile, migrating north as far as Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is a vagrant to the Falkland Islands. Its natural habitats are freshwater lakes and saline marshes.

It is found in open areas with short grass and is often near the coast or lake shores. Very active, it forages for small insects running
along the ground and sallying in the air. Much given to flicking its wings and tail.

Lessonia rufa, female
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The male is all black except for its rufous-chestnut back. It has a short black bill and black legs with a very long hind claw.

The female has a less chestnuty back, is brownish-grey below with dark streaks and has two wing-bars. It is the female that
helps to separate this species from Andean Negrito, Lessonia oreas, by being much lighter below, showing wing-bars and
having white at the edge of the tail.
Source: http://www.arthurgrosset.com

Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope

Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope, is a passerine bird of South America belonging to the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae. It is usually placed with the monjitas in the genus Xolmis but was sometimes placed in its own genus Pyrope
in the past.

It is 19-21 cm long. The upperparts are mainly plain grey. The underparts are pale grey with white throat and undertail-coverts. The eyes are bright coral-red, for which the bird is named.

It is found in central and southern Chile, southwestern Argentina, and Tierra del Fuego. It is found in woodland, forest edge
and farmland and is normally seen perching on bushes or fences. Vagrant birds have occurred just eastwards of Tierra del
Fuego in the Falkland Islands.

Southern Lapwing, Vanellus chilensis

The Southern Lapwing has red spurs at the bend of the wing which are displayed
to rivals and enemies as part of the show of aggression. These can be seen well
in the photo which shows the first part of an extraordinary display.
This group of 4 birds advanced rapidly calling loudly with their spurs showing
on a single bird who was presumably trying to invade their (co-operative?)
breeding territory.
Photo: ©  http://www.arthurgrosset.com

The Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope, is a passerine bird of South America belonging to the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae. It is usually placed with the monjitas in the genus Xolmis but was sometimes placed in its own genus Pyrope
in the past.

It is 19-21 cm long. The upperparts are mainly plain grey. The underparts are pale grey with white throat and undertail-coverts.
The eyes are bright coral-red, for which the bird is named.

It is found in central and southern Chile, southwestern Argentina, and Tierra del Fuego. Vagrant birds have occurred just eastwards of Tierra del Fuego in the Falkland Islands.

Many uncommon species can be found in coastal towns and along highways.
Other unusual things to see are albatrosses feeding in small inshore bays,
parakeets in snow-covered forests, and ibises nesting in seabird colonies.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of habitat damage from introduced sheep, hares, rabbits, and beavers.
Native culpeo fox has been largely displaced by introduced Patagonian fox,
although the two species coexist well in mainland Patagonia.

Gray Fox, Lycalopex griseus

South American gray fox, Lycalopex griseus
Photo: claudioruiz

The South American gray fox, Lycalopex griseus, also known as the Patagonian fox, the chilla, or the grey zorro, is a species of zorro, the "false" foxes.

The South American gray fox is found in the Southern Cone of South America, particularly in Argentina and Chile. Its range comprises a stripe, both sides of the Andes Mountain Range between parallels 17ºS (northernmost Chile)
and 54ºS (Tierra del Fuego).

In Argentina, this species inhabits the western semiarid region of the country, from the Andean spurs (ca. 69ºW)
to meridian 66ºW. South from the Río Grande river, the distribution of the fox widens reaching the Atlantic coast.
In Chile, it is present throughout the country. Its presence in Peru has been mentioned; to date, however, there has
been no confirmation of it. The South American gray fox was introduced to the Falkland Islands in the late 1920s
early 1930s and is still present in quite large numbers on Beaver and Weddell Islands plus several smaller islands.

South American gray fox, Lycalopex griseus
Photo: claudioruiz

The South American gray fox occurs in a variety of habitats, from the warm, arid scrublands of the Argentine Monte
and the cold, arid Patagonian steppe to the forest of southernmost Chile.

The South American gray fox is a small South American canid, weighing 2.5–4 kg), and measuring 43–70 cm in length.
Its diet consists mainly of rodents, birds, and rabbits.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_American_gray_fox

There are a lot more birds down here in this end of South America,
but let us cross the border to the Argentinian side of The Andes
and see what we can find there.






Birds of Tierra del Fuego National Park, left to right: Long-tailed Meadowlark, Sturnella loyca, (2 pictures), Great Grebe, Podiceps major,
South American Snipe, Gallinago paraguaiae, Southern House Wren, Troglodytes musicus, Black-chinned Siskin, Carduelis barbata.

Emperor Penguins take their first trip into the cold water of the South.
Photo:© Gerald L Kooyman, NG March, 1996

Part 5. The Andes of Argentina

Back to part 3

All pictures, unless otherwise stated, Copyright © Vladimir Dinets


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