Sandwiched between the giants of the continent, Argentina to the south, Brazil to the east and Bolivia to the north, Paraguay has become “South America’s forgotten corner”. Centuries of political instability, poor infrastructure and a general fear of the unknown have led to the country becoming seriously under-watched in ornithological terms, a trend that has continued into the modern day, even though the country is now one of the friendliest, cheapest, safest and most traditional on the continent. Ironically, this neglect at the hands of birders and researchers alike today renders Paraguay amongst the most exciting places to bird in the South America. Little is known about the country’s avifauna, and regular birders are so few in numbers that every trip brings with it the promise of new and exciting discoveries.
Located in the heart of the continent where five major biomes meet, this compact country offers the possibility to rack up a large list in a short trip and without having to spend hours on the road. Though there are no country endemics, Paraguay is packed with regional endemics. This is the place to go to see threatened local specialities such as White-winged Nightjar, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Vinaceous Amazon, Black-fronted Piping-Guan and Saffron-cowled Blackbird which have all but disappeared from the rest of their respective ranges.
For many visitors the desolate Chaco is the big draw, a thorny, dusty region that remains the best place to see large mammals on the continent – everything from Jaguar and Tapir to the ‘living fossil’ Chaco Peccary, a creature known only from fossil remains until its remarkable discovery in the Paraguayan Chaco in 1976! The eastern part of the Chaco is a humid region that actually forms part of the Pantanal, difficult to get to but unlike the Brazilian Pantanal unspoilt by the excesses of tourism. Famed for vast flocks of water-birds that gather in the flooded palm savannas here, it is also one of the world’s most reliable sites for the elusive Giant Otter.
Most of the human population lives in eastern Paraguay – the Orient – where infrastructure is rather better. However more people means more pressure on natural habitats and Paraguay is no different from anywhere else in South America when it comes to loss of habitat. That said eastern Paraguay still harbours large blocks of largely unexplored Atlantic Forest, amongst the most endangered habitats on earth and with extraordinarily high levels of regional endemism. The Bare-necked Bellbird, Paraguay’s national bird remains numerous here, and other spectacular and rare Atlantic Forest endemics that can be surprisingly easy to find include Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets and Helmeted Woodpecker – a bird so little known that it was until recently considered South America’s equivalent of the legendary Ivory-billed Woodpecker!
The northern Orient constitutes the southern extension of the vast Cerrado region, the great South American savannas. This is a great place to seek out mysterious local specialities such as Cock-tailed Tyrant (still common in many areas), Reiser’s Tyrannulet, Planalto Foliage-Gleaner and Paraguay’s biggest draw the endangered White-winged Nightjar. Of the three known localities for this species on earth, two are found within the country’s boundaries making it the best and easiest place to see this sought after species.
Travel around Paraguay can be difficult, public transport links the major urban areas but off the beaten track you will need your own 4x4 vehicle to get around. Furthermore much of the country’s territory is in private hands requiring prior written permission to visit. With so few tourists accommodation, away from the major cities, is basic whilst the chances of bumping into another tourist away from the capital city are extremely slim – which all adds up to an adventurous and exciting experience. To get the most out of your visit it is recommended that you visit with an expert guide. However with a modern English-language field guide now in production and more and more people beginning to see Paraguay as a new and exciting eco-tourism destination, the future looks bright both for Paraguay and its spectacular wildlife!
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 719
As of November 2016
Number of endemics: 1
Chaco Nothura Nothura chacoensis
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
Atlas de las Aves del Paraguay
Hugo del Castillo and Robert P Clay 212 pages, distribution maps. GUYRA Paraguay Distributed by NHBS
ISBN: 170431Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guía Para la Identificación de las Aves de Paraguay
Tito Narosky and Dario Yzurieta - 239 pages, colour illus, distribution maps. GUYRA Paraguay Distributed by NHBS
ISBN: 9879132130Buy this book from NHBS.com
Lista Comentada de las Aves de Paraguay
Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Paraguay Hugo del Castillo and Robert P Clay 200 pages, 2 maps. GUYRA Paraguay 2004
ISBN: 9992586818Buy this book from NHBS.com
Status, Distribution and Biogeography of the Birds of Paraguay
Monographs Floyd E. Hayes Paperback - 230 pages (1995) American Birding Association Incorporated
ISBN: 1878788302Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in South America
Nigel Wheatley Paperback - 336 pages (27 October, 1994) Christopher Helm
ISBN: 0713639091Buy this book from NHBS.com
Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
FAUNA Paraguay, the biggest information archive on Paraguayan Natural History on the web. We offer Wildlife and Birdwatching Tours in Paraguay, a huge image gallery of Paraguayan animals, volunteer schemes in Paraguay, and a mountain of information about Paraguay the country. If its birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians or insects that you are interested in then check out what Paraguay has to offer! You won´t be dissappointed…
Wildlife Tours Paraguay
Paraguay, located at the center of South-America, is a country with a great biodiversity. Its richness is due to the convergence of rich and threatened ecosystems, including the hotspots of the AtlanticForestand Cerrado, the wilderness of theChacoand the Pantanal, and the wetlands of the Mesopotamian Grasslands…
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.
2009 [11 November] - Sjef Öllers
…A small group of roseate spoonbills were the only ones seen during the trip. Migrating flocks of snail kite and plumbeous kite were seen and raptors such as American kestrel, roadside hawk, savanna hawk, southern crested caracara and three vulture species were seen regularly. Flocks of the pretty Nanday parakeets were often seen crossing the road…
2010 [10 October] - Matt Denton
… We saw all of the Chaco big six: Black-bodied Woodpecker, Black-legged Seriema, Chaco Owl, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Crested Gallito and Spot-winged Falconet; a fantastic selection of nightbirds that included Long-tailed Potoo, Tawny-browed Owl, White-winged and Sickle-winged Nightjars, and Ocellated Poorwill; superb grassland flycatchers with fancy tails of all sorts such as Streamer-tailed, Strange-tailed, Cock-tailed, and Sharp-tailed Tyrants along with other Mesopotamian grassland species such as Giant Snipe, Ochre-breasted Pipit and Saffron-cowled Blackbird….
2012 [10 October] - Paul Smith
…With 407 birds, 27 mammals and 13 species of reptiles recorded, this year’s Paraguay trip, Birdquest ́s second, smashed all the previous records. Persistently overlooked by visitors, the "Forgotten Heart of South America", is a place where only adventurous birders dare to tread, and always leave very glad that they did…
2014 [10 October] - Jon Lehmberg
... The area is an important stop-over for many migrating waterbirds, and we saw lots of waders, ducks, swans, herons, storks and flamingos here. We also found other interesting species like Chaco Earthcreeper, the beautiful White Monjita, Olive-crowned Cresent-Chest and of course Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper which, for some of us, was one the favourite birds of the entire trip...
2015 [10 October] - Pete Morris
...Pride of place went to the confiding chaco form of Olive-crowned Crescentchest which allowed marvellous views, but the supporting cast wasn’t too bad! Amazing terrestrial Scimitar-billed Woodcreepers strutted their stuff like hoopoes, raucous Chaco Chachalacas showed well, Cinereous Tyrants perched on bush tops, and other pre-breakfast goodies included Great and Barred Antshrikes, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Greater Wagtail-Tyrants, subtle Southern Scrub-Flycatchers, Plain Inezias, Black-capped Warbling Finches and a fine male Ultramarine Grosbeak...
2016 [10 October] - Hervé & Noëlle Jacob
...Good birds were Bolivian Slaty-antshrike, Black-bellied Antwren before the abandonned house, and Azara's Night Monkeys and Dusky Titis. From the viewpoint we saw Bicolored and Crane Hawk...
Fundacion Moises Bertoni
In January 1988, citizens concerned about the alarming disappearance of Paraguayan fauna and flora and its grave impact on the future generations of the Paraguayan society, formed a group dedicated to the creation of a foundation in whose main focus is to promote the conservation of nature. This foundation, The Moisés Bertoni Foundation (FMB); was formed to combat the ongoing destruction of the environment, thus building a foundation to protect the rich biodiversity of Paraguay…
The BirdLife partner in Paraguay.
Para La Tierra - Conservation in Paraguay
We’re a not-for-profit conservation organisation that protects habitats and species in Paraguay through scientific research and community outreach. We also promote a responsible approach to reserve management where tourists contribute to social, scientific and conservation projects that are designed to have a positive impact on Paraguay…
Museo Mariposas del Mundo
The current panorama is not very encouraging, neither in the world environment, nor in the national environment: effect hothouse, destruction of the ozone layer, increase of the forest fires, shortage and contamination of the hydric resources, climatic changes, bad distribution of alimentary resourses, extinction of vegetable and animal species, etc. Logically, all these phenomenons impact in a direct or indirect way, but negatively, on thediversity or biodiversity biological (word very useful at the moment) of our planet…
Paraguay's National Parks
Site Names & Locations
Ramsar Wetlands in Paraguay
Paraguay currently has 6 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 785,970 hectares. Interactive map of sites.
Reserva Nacional - Parque San Rafael
In 1992 the place was designated a national park and in March 2002 it was elevated to the category of Reserve of Manageable Resources. It extends for 73,000 hectares and is part of the 15 ecological regions of the Bosque Atlántico del Alto Paraná (Atlantic Forest of Alto Paraná). The area is considered the “most important bird area” because 392 species of birds have been identified in the reserve, including the campana bird (bell bird, the national bird of Paraguay) and the chopí saiyú.
Forums & Mailing Lists
To post to list: AVESPARAGUAY@gruposyahoo.com.ar
List contact: AVESPARAGUAYfirstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe to list: AVESPARAGUAYemail@example.com
FAUNA Paraguay runs an online listserver (AVESPARAGUAY) dealing specifically with Paraguayan ornithology that allows you to keep up to date with all the latest happenings in the field. Subsciption is free and easy…
Photographers & Artists
Gallery - Fauna Paraguay
Growing picture 'database' for ALL the fauna of Paraguay and ambitious and exciting project…