Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego (officially Provincia de Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur) is an Argentine province entirely separated from mainland Argentina by the Strait of Magellan. It includes the eastern part of the Isla Grande of Tierra del Fuego (the western part is the Chilean province of Tierra del Fuego). It is a spectacular part of the world.
Birders arriving in the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia (the departure point for many Antarctica, South Georgia and Falkland Island cruise ships) will be treated not only to some extremely special birds, but also beautiful jagged, snow-capped mountain peaks on one side and the Beagle Channel on the other (not to mention quaint buildings). The most sought-after of all the birds around here is the massive Magellanic Woodpecker, not uncommon in the well-developed beech forests in the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park. These same forests are also home to Austral Parakeet, Austral Pygmy Owl and White-throated Tree-runner. Two species of steamer ducks and several other rather attractive, localised duck and goose species are also easy to find around here. Among birders, Ushuaia’s rubbish dump is famous for White-throated Caracara along with a couple of more widespread caracaras, vultures and gulls (including the attractive Dolphin Gull).
Heading up into the high mountains near here, the tough to find White-bellied Seedsnipe is a real prize – with luck you might see a couple of them when they decide to walk over a snow patch; otherwise you’ll have to contend with their camouflage. Andean Condor and other raptors should put in an appearance, along with several other excellent birds.
The Beagle Channel is of course very exciting. Without trying hard, you’ll get close-up views of Southern Giant Petrel from the shore, but will see other pelagics and Magellanic Penguin if you take a boat trip (if you’re not already sailing the Beagle Channel on your way from here to Antarctica or the Falklands). Magellanic Diving Petrel must be more reliable in the Straight of Magellan which forms the northern boundary of Tierra del Fuego – do watch for this if you’re taking the ferry.
A birder can happily spend three or four days exploring the whole of the island (of Tierra del Fuego), although most birders only have a day or two around Ushuaia itself. The other most visited destinations, are the Tren del Fin del Mundo, Fagnano Lake, Museum of the End of the World, Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, the old jail, and the Isla de los Estados.
There are low mountains and sandy beaches at the north of the island, ascending to the south. The north is somewhat similar to the steppe of the Santa Cruz Province. In the middle of the island, the end of the Andes mountain system runs horizontally, and its highest peak, Mount Cornú, rises only 1,490 meters. There are also a number of short rivers (Grande, Moneta, Ona, Lasifashaj, etc.), and due to the low temperature, there are many small glaciers that descend towards the sea. The annual average temperature of the island is 5.3 °C, with precipitation of 300 mm in the north and 550 mm in the south. Oil and gas production and sheep farming are the main impacts on the land although there is a growing manufacturing base and development of tourism.
Dr Chris Lotz
CEO Birding Ecotours
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 221
(As at September 2018)
Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula
(The Falkland Islands and South Georgia) | By E Couve & C Vidal | Fantastico Sur | 2003 | Paperback | 656 pages, 200 colour photos, distrib maps |
ISBN: 9568007040Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
This magnificent cruise starts in the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia. This Argentinean city is bounded by the famous Beagle Channel on one side and by the mountains of Tierra del Fuego (“Land of the Fire”) on the other.
Magellanic Nature Tours
We have been working in Tierra del Fuego for over twenty years in order to meet the expectations of the increasing demand for nature–oriented tourism. We love nature and in touch with local researchers in order to collaborate in the preservation of our environment and to be able to share its diversity with our visitors. We are experts in nature-oriented programs.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2016 [03 March] - Rafael Galvez
...We rounded Cape Horn on the fifth day. That morning, as we observed the distant contour of jagged islands at the end of the earth, the seas were filled with Wilson’s Storm-Petrels and Black-browed Albatrosses....
2017 [12 December] - Chris Lotz
What an incredible journey of a lifetime! The scenery was unbelievably spectacular. The birds were wonderful and included seven penguin species, Snow Petrel, many albatrosses including the most majestic of all, Wandering Albatross, along with the sleek, beautiful Light-mantled Albatross, and some rare, localised terrestrial birds such as South Georgia Pipit and Cobbâ€™s Wren, and then of course all the sought-after birds of southernmost South America (Tierra del Fuego) such as Magellanic Woodpecker and the tricky White-bellied Seedsnipe.