Tucumán Mountain-finch Poospiza baeri ©Dubi Shapiro Website

Tucumán is the smallest province in Argentine with a total surface of around 22,500 km2 or 8,700 square miles. It has about 1,150,000 inhabitants, with a demographic density of 50.71 inhabitants per km2, which is the highest in the country. Its Capital, San Miguel de Tucumán, is known as Jardín de la República or the Garden City and has around half a million inhabitants. Argentine’s independence from Spain was declared in this city and signed by provinces delegates in the house of Doña Francisca Bazán de Laguna.

Tucumán is bordered by Salta province in the north, Catamarca in Southwest and Santiago del Estero in the east. There are two well differentiated regions; plains, with thorny montes in the Great Chaco on the east, and mountains and forests in the west with a great variety of landscapes.

Tucumán’s climate is sub-tropical, with a dry season in winter. From October through March it is rainy, and the annual rainfall averages over 1,000mm. The maximum annual average temperature is 25° C, with a minimum of 13° C.

Birding Tucumán

The great environmental variety is reflected in the high diversity of its c.500 bird species, with 11 in the Red List. All living in the smallest province with a heterogeneous mix of eco-regions going from High Andes, Puna, Prepuna to Monte, Yungas and Chaco. Many ecosystems have been deeply altered by agriculture, livestock and urbanisation.

Calchaquí ValleyPublic domain via Wikimedia Commons

Birding High Andes and Puna – In the Andes Cordillera, the Puna ranges from 3,400m to 4,400m and the High Andes eco-region begins at 4,400m rising to 6000m, at the limit of the permanent snow line. Tucumán province’s south is connected with northern area El Infiernillo Pass at 3,340m. Calchaquies Mountain, inside El Parque Provincial Cumbres Calchaquies goes down from Salta province. It is 70km long in Tucumán with an average altitude of around 4,450m. In Huaca Huasi Lagoon and Los Amaicheños Lagoon, there are many rare Puna aquatics birds. In Aconquija Mountain the lower limit of permanent snow is 5,200m and there are many high mountains in a narrow border of 80km. The highest point in Nevado del Aconquija is Chimberi Mount at 5,550m.

There are no roads, only trails for climbers. The nearest access is El Infiernillo Pass on the provincial road Nº 307, sector: Tafi del Valle-Amaicha del Valle. In the northern part of the system, there is now a road between Tolombón (Salta) and Hualinchay (Tucumán), near San Pedro de Colalao. In the extreme west side of Tucumán province there is a small portion of Puna in the high peaks of Sierra de Quilmes, also called Sierra del Cajon. In the high mountains the climate is cold, the temperate varying according to height above sea level, but with high humidity. Life is very hard in this region, including in summer. Weather can change suddenly going from sun to hailstorm, followed by snow and freezing temperatures.

Typical vegetation is tough grass surrounded by stones and a little water, at lower levels it is called mallines where there are more green grasses. Each gorge has little brooks and some ponds and lagoons with high altitude peatlands, which have compact vegetation on spongy ground. At the crest of the mountains grow yaretas or cushion plants. Ravines oriented eastward have greater humidity with Alnus forests rising up the slopes, because the mountains work like a curtain stopping the humid easterly wind and catching all the water. To the west, ravines are dry going down to scrublands. Both eco-regions, the High Andes and the Puna are here considered a unique unity because both have elements of each other. All this area is little explored. Birds found here include:

Ornate and Puna Tinamou, Silvery and White-tufted Grebe, Speckled, Puna and Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Crested, Ruddy and Torrent Duck, Puna Plover, Southern Pochard, Puna, Chilean and Andean Flamingo, Andean Goose, Turkey Vulture, Andean Condor, Mountain and Southern Crested Caracara, Variable Hawk, Aplomado and Peregrine Falcon, Wilson’s Phalarope, Lesser Yellowlegs, Baird’s Sandpiper, Golden and Diademed Plover, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Andean Snipe, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, American, Horned, Giant and Andean Coot, Andean Lapwing, Andean Avocet, Rufous-bellied and Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, Andean Gull, Morenos’s and Golden-spotted Ground-Dove, Gray-hooded & Mountain Parakeet, Great Horned Owl, Band-tailed Nightjar, Andean Swift, White-sided and Andean Hillstar, Giant Hummingbird, Andean Flicker, Straight-billed & Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Common, Rufous-banded & Slender-billed Miner, Cream-winged & White-winged Cinclodes, Brown-capped & Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Rusty-vented, Steinbach’s, Cordilleran and Puna Canastero, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Gray-bellied, Black-billed, White-tailed and Least Shrike-Tyrant, Rufous-napped, Spot-billed and Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant, D’Orbigny’s and White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Andean Negrito, Blue-and-White Swallow, Patagonian Mockingbird, Paramo Pipit, Band-tailed & Plain-coloured Seedeater, Bright-rumped, Striped-tailed, Puna and Greenish Yellow-Finch, Short-tailed Finch, Gray-hooded, Mourning, Plumbeous, Red-backed, Ash-breasted, Band-tailed & Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Black Siskin and Long-tailed Meadowlark.

Birding Pre-puna – The lowest level of the Puna is 3,400m. Below this the Pre-puna goes down to 2,000m. In Tucumán province there are two narrow bands of this eco-region. The first is in the western lower slopes of Calchaquies Mountain to Aconquija Mountain and the second one is in the eastern lower level of Sierra de Quilmes. The Pre-puna is a transitional zone where birds go up to the Puna or down to the Monte or vice versa. In a wide valley sculpted by glacial and alluvial pressure, are Tafi del Valle and El Mollar, two touristy small villages in the tree-line, at approximately 2,000m surrounded by hills of 2,900m. In the centre of a depression is an artificial lake; La Angostura, where there are many aquatic birds, especially nearctic, Patagonian and altitudinal migratory birds. Many watercourses go down from the nearby hills such as Del Churqui River, De La Banda River, La Puerta River, Blanquito River to form the Tafi del Valle River. In the place where these rivers flow into the lake, the water table is near the surface with marshes and more aquatic vegetation. Many Andean Coot nest on the lake. Some flamingos use it as a rest stop. Coscoroba Swan can be found along with Cinnamon Teal, Red Shoveler, Chiloe Wigeon, Lake Duck, Speckled Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, White-tufted Grebe, Red-gartered, Red-fronted and White-winged Coot, Grey-hooded and Andean Gull. In another part of the lake there are Neo-tropic Cormorant, Ruddy Duck, Great Grebe, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Cocoi Heron. In the grassy edges are South American Painted-Snipe and farther on there are Correndera and Short-billed Pipit. After the dam is a Angostura River, called Los Sosa River further on. This valley is part of Natural Reserve La Angostura. The climate is cold and humid with sudden temperature changes. Nocturnal frost is habitual any time of the year. The rainy season is in summer.

Reserva Natural Los Sosabullit CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The best area to see Pre-puna birds is along road Nº 307 between Tafi del Valle and Amaicha del Valle, stopping and going up all the transversal gorges looking for Tucuman Mountain-Finch and all Canasteros, especially for Scribble-tailed Canastero, where the area is wider at kilometre marker numbers 67,78, 80, 83, 84. At 87 there is a place with dwellings and corrals, good for birding especially for White-bellied Shrike-Tyrant. El Infiernillo Pass is the highest point at 3,340m giving rise to Tafi del Valle River eastwards and Amaicha del Valle River going down to west. Some birds dispersed in this extended area are: Ornate, Andean, Brushland, Darwin’s and Elegant-crested Tinamou, White-tufted, Least, Silvery & Pied-billed Grebe, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Egret, White-faced, Buff-necked & Bare-faced Ibis, Chilean & Andean Flamingo, Maguari Stork, Andean Goose, Speckled, Puna, Silver, Blue-winged & Cinnamon Teal, Red Shoveler, Yellow-billed Pintail, Rosy-billed Pochard, Lake & Ruddy Duck, Andean Condor, Turkey, Black & King Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Cinereus & Long-winged Harrier, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, White-tailed, Harris and Variable Hawk, Chimango, Southern Crested and Mountain Caracara, Aplomado & Peregrine Falcon, American Kestrel, Plumbeous Rail, Red-gartered, White-winged, Red-fronted Coot and Andean Coot, Buff-breasted and Baird’s Sandpiper, Andean Lapwing, Black-necked Stilt, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Collared & Diademed Plover, Andean Snipe, Rufous-bellied, Gray-breasted and Least Seedsnipe, Andean Gull, Picazuro, Spot-winged, Pale-vented & Band-tailed Pigeon, Eared Dove, Morenos’s, Black-winged and Picui Ground-Dove, Mitred, Blue-crowned, Gray-hooded & Mountain Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, Ash-coloured & Dark-billed Cuckoo, Burrowing Owl, Short-eared Owl, Great Horned Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Nacunda Nighthawk, Band-winged Nightjar, Scissor-tailed & Little Nightjar, White-collared Swift, Ashy-tailed & Andean Swift, Rothschild’s Swift, Andean & White-sided Hillstar, Sparkling Violetear, Giant Hummingbird, Red-tailed Comet, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Spot-backed Puffbird, Andean Flicker, White-fronted and Green-barred Woodpecker.

Straight-billed, Scale-throated, Plain-breasted and Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Common, Puna, Rufous-banded & Slender-billed Miner, Cream-winged & White-winged Cinclodes, Brown-capped, Plain-mantled & Tufted Tit-Spinetail, Cordilleran, Puna, Rusty-vented, Steinbach’s and Scribble-tailed Canastero, Streak-fronted Thornbird, White-throated Cacholote, Gray-bellied, Black-billed & White-tailed Shrike-Tyrants, Rufous-napped, White-browed, Ochre-napped, Cinnamon-bellied, Black-fronted, Plain-capped, Cinereous, Dark-faced & Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Spectacled and Yellow-browed Tyrant, Andean Negrito, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Black Phoebe, Cinereous Tyrant, D’orbigny’s & White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, White Monjita, Cattle Tyrant, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, White-throated Tyrannulet, White-crested Elaenia, Variegated & Piratic Flycatcher, Dinelli’s Doradito, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Crested & Sandy Gallito, White-browed Tapaculo, White-tipped Plantcutter, White-rumped & Blue-and-White Swallow, Purple Martin, Short-billed and Yellowish Pipit, Correndera Pipit, Hellmayr’s & Paramo Pipit, Grass & House Wren, Patagonian, Chalk-browed, White-banded & Brown-backed Mockingbird, Rufous-bellied, Andean Slaty, Chiguanco and Creamy-bellied Thrush, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Black-hooded, Gray-hooded, Mourning, Plumbeous, Red-backed, Ash-breasted & Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Gray-crested Finch, Common Diuca-Finch, Red Pileates-Finch, Yellow-striped Brush-Finch, Black and Rufous & Tucuman Mountain-Finch, Short-tailed Finch, Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch, Sayaca & Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Rusty Flower-Piercer, Puna, Stripe-tailed, Bright-rumped, Greater, Greenish, Saffron & Grassland Yellow-Finch, Pampa Finch, Golden-billed Saltator, Band-tailed & Plain-coloured Seedeater, Tropical Parula, Brown-capped Whitestart, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Shiny Cowbird, Hooded, Black and Thick-billed Siskin.

Birding the Monte – The Monte constitutes the most arid land in Argentina. This eco-region is located in the west area of Tucumán province, in the valley between Calchaquies Mountain and Sierra de Quilmes are the towns of Amaicha del Valle, Colalao del Valle, El Bañado, Antiguo Quilmes and the well-known Quilmes Ruins. The area near the ruins and others in Antiguo Quilmes, in the south the first foothills, are good places for birding. To access the ruins, on the rustic slopes of a local mountain, there is an unpaved road of 5km. At the main entrance there is a hotel. Other good areas for birding are found in Amaicha del Valle, 19km from the ruins, where one can find Steinbach’s Canastero in a dry creek and Puna Canastero in dense scrub. Near the route there are Tufted Tit-Spinetail and White-throated Cacholote, Sandy Gallito, Scrub Flycatcher, White-crested Tyrannulet, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant and Black-crowned Monjita. The flat valley is crossed, north to south, by a paved National Road Nº 40.

Tafi del VallePublic domain via Wikimedia Commons

Overall Monte has a temperate-arid to dry climate, with wide thermic variations. This entire region suffers from the lack of water, with little rain, between 80mm and 250mm per year, confined to summer. All the water runs down to the Santa Maria River, which is mainly intermittent or dry, creating sparse gallery forests. Dominant vegetative formation is a steppe scrub, called jarillal as the most characteristic community composed of species of the genera Larrea, with other xerophytic and resinous evergreen bushes forming a dense monte, which is mixed with algarrobos, aguaribay, monte negro, retamo, mata sebo and cardones. Grounds are sandy, stony, and very poor with little development.In the open contiguous hills, steppe is formed with a diversity of thorny and stunted species, cactus and cardones inside stony grounds. Eastern slopes, on Sierra de Quilmes, are rugged and steep. On the western slopes of Calchaquies Mountain, with steep gradients, there are small gorges, some of them with water, with more vegetation and also more birds species of Pre-puna and Monte. Provincial road Nº 307, near Amaicha del Valle is a good area to explore.

Some birds found in this biome are: Ornate, Brushland, Andean, Darwin’s & Elegant-crested Tinamou, Neotropic Cormorant, Least, Pied-billed, White-tufted & Silvery Grebe, Stripe-backed Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Striated Heron, Cattle, Snowy & Great Egret, Cocoi Heron, Wood & Maguary Stork, Buff-necked and White-faced Ibis, Chilean & Andean Flamingo, Andean Goose, Torrent Duck, Speckled Teal, Red Shoveler, Yellow-billed and White-cheeked Pintail, Silver, Blue-winged & Cinnamon Teal, Ruddy & Lake Duck, Andean Condor, Turkey, Black & King Vulture, White-tailed & Mississippi Kite, Crane Hawk, Cinereous & Long-winged Harrier, Bicolored and Great Black Hawk, Crowned Solitary-Eagle, Savanna Hawk, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Harris, Roadside, Variable and White-tailed Hawk, Mountain, Chimango & Southern-crested Caracara, Spot-winged Falconet, American Kestrel, Aplomado & Peregrine Falcon, Chaco Chachalaca, Limpkin, Plumbeous & Spotted Rail, Rufous-sided Crake, Common Gallinule, Red-gartered, White-winged & Red-fronted Coot, Red-legged & Black-legged Seriema, Wattled Jacana, South American Painted-Snipe, Black-necked Stilt, Southern & Andean Lapwing, Golden, Semipalmated, Collared, Black-bellied and Diademed Plover, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Hudsonian Goodwit, Upland Sandpiper, Greater, Lesser & Solitary Yellowlegs, Wilson Phalarope, South American Snipe, White-rumped, Semipalmated, Baird’s & Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Seedsnipe, Andean & Franklin’s Gull. Many of these aquatic birds occasionally had enough water and space for to live along river and brooks only in a short time in the top of the rainy season or in small redoubts where waters accumulated.

Rock Dove, Picazuro, Spot-winged, Band-tailed and Pale-vented Pigeon, Eared Dove, Picui, Moreno’s, Blue, Black-winged & Golden-spotted Ground-Dove, White-tipped & White-faced Dove, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Burrowing Parrot, Monk, Mitred, Gray-hooded & Mountain Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, Ash-coloured, Yellow-billed, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Guira & Striped Cuckoo, Western Barn Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Burrowing & Short-eared Owl, Common & Nacunda Nighthawk, Band-winged Nightjar, Little & Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Rothschild’s, White-collared, Ashy-tailed & Andean Swift, Sparkling & White-vented Violetear, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Gilded Sapphire, White-bellied Hummingbird, Andean & White-sided Hillstar, Giant Hummingbird, Red-tailed Comet, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Ringed, Amazon & Green Kingfisher, Spot-backed Puffbird, White-barred Piculet, White-fronted, Checkered & Green-barred Woodpecker, Campo & Andean Flicker, Ocellated Piculet, Scimitar-billed & Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Chaco, Straight-billed, Scale-throated, Rock & Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Common, Rufous-banded & Slender-billed Miner, Cream-winged Cinclodes (with the subspecies tucumanus) White-winged Cinclodes, Rufous Hornero, Brown-capped, Tufted & Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Azara’s, Sooty-fronted, Pale-breasted and Stripe-crowned Spinetail, Short-billed, Cordilleran, Puna, Rusty-vented, Steinbach’s, Scribble-tailed and Maquis Canastero, Spot-breasted and Streak-fronted Thornbird, Firewood Gatherer, Lark-like Brushrunner, Wren-like Rushbird, Brown & White-throated Cacholote, Grey-bellied Shrike-Tyrant (with the local Puna race), Black-billed & White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Giant Antshrike, Black-crowned and White Monjita, Andean Tyrant, Rufous-napped, White-browed, Ochre-napped, Cinnamon-bellied, Cinereous, Black-fronted, Plain-capped, Dark-faced & Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant, Andean Negrito, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, D’Orbigny’s, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Black Phoebe, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Spectacled Tyrant, Vermillon Flycatcher, Cattle Tyrant, Fork-tailed, Variegated and Streaked Flycatcher, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Rufous Casiornis, Cliff Flycatcher, Dinelli’s & Subtropical Doradito, Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant, Tufted and Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, White-crested, White-bellied and White-throated Tyrannulet, White-crested, Large Elaenia and Slaty Elaenia, Crested and Sandy Gallito, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Crested Becard, White-tipped Plantcutter, White-rumped Swallow, Brown-chested, Purple & Southern Martin, Blue-and-white, Tawny-headed, Barn & Bank Swallow, Short-billed, Yellowish, Correndera, Hellmayr’s & Paramo Pipit, Grass & House Wren, Chalk-browed, Patagonian & White-banded Mockingbird, Rufous-bellied Thrush, Spotted Nightingale Thrush, Chiguanco & Creamy-bellied Thrush, Masked Gnatcatcher, Rufous-collared, Grassland & Stripe-capped Sparrow, Black-hooded, Gray-hooded, Mourning, Plumbeous, Red-backed, Ash-breasted & Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Black-crested Finch, Common Diuca-Finch, Short-tailed Finch, Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch, Black and Rufous & Cinnamon Warbling-Finch, Tucuman Mountain-Finch, Ringed, Chaco and Black-capped Warbling-Finch, Puna, Bright-rumped, Greater, Greenish, Saffron and Grassland Yellow-Finch, Pampa Finch, Rusty-collared & Double-collared Seedeater, Band-tailed & Plain-coloured Seedeater, Many-colored Chaco-Finch, Red Pileates-Finch, Red-crested Cardinal, Golden-billed and Rufous-bellied Saltator, Tropical Parula, Rufous-browed Pepper-Shrike, Brown-capped Whitestart, Black-backed and Ultramarine Grosbeak, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Dull-coloured Grassquit, White-browed Blackbird, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Baywing, Screaming & Shiny Cowbird, Hooded & Black Siskin, Thick-billed Siskin, House Sparrow.

Birding the Yungas – The Yungas eco-region crosses Tucumán province in a north to south direction, forming a narrow fringe of, more or lees, 220km on the eastern slopes of Calchaquies-Aconquija Mountain etc. The climate is wet and humid with hot and rainy summers. Precipitation ranges from 270cm per year brought along easterly trade winds. The Yungas is developed in a vertical structure over the slopes of the mountains. At lower elevations, between 350m and 850m the transitional forest, Selva de Transición, most resembles the arid Chaco, with deciduous trees like lapacho and palo amarillo. The altitude of the first level is from 850m to 1,000m here is a dense basal forest, Selva Montana, with many epiphytes, ferns, orchids, cactus and great diversity of trees and vascular plants. It’s the domain of big examples of laurel, pacará, tipa mixed with other species. In the next level, from 1,000m to 1,700m, is known as Selva de Mirtaceas, where these species form closed clusters of horco molle and guili, also called mato, mixed with others trees. From this area to 3,000m is the Bosques Montanos dominated by nogal tucumano, Podocarpus and Alnus forest with herbaceous and arboreal ferns and diverse grasses. Higher levels are occupied by grass steppes and later High Andes.

This eco-region is protected in Campo de Los Alisos National Park, Natural Reserve Los Sosa, Provincial Park Los Ñuñorcos, Natural Reserve Quebrada del Portugues, Provincial Park La Florida, Provincial Park El Cochuna.

Provincial road Nº 307, in the lower section crosses a good sector of yungas near Los Sosa River, a mountain river with strong currents that has a fast-flowing stream over rocks bordering the big laurels. Due to the high humidity, the lower layer of forests is extremely compact with a great variety of arboreal and herbal ferns mixed with other weeds, epiphytes, lianas and herbs, literally covering the ground and impeding progress. The climate is warm and very humid with constant mist. Rainfall, occurring mainly in summer, reaches 270cm. annually. Between Monteros City from 650m to treeline at 1,750m research has found 118 bird species, with 26 of then with aquatic habits. Near The Indian Monument or the old Vialidad Encampment, is the best area for to see Torrent Duck and Rufous-throated Dipper. Fasciated Tiger-Heron is also living in the same place but hides inside the dense reed fringe and is very difficult to see. Other interesting sectors of yungas can be found along national road Nº 65 between Concepción and Aconquija in an area called Cuesta del Clavillo, in the south of the province and unique pass to Catamarca province through cloud forest. The road crosses steep ravines from 500m to 5,500m in Nevados del Aconquija, with torrential brooks, home of the Rufous-throated Dipper. Mist is frequent in this area giving a ghostly aspect at the middle layer of the forests. Summer rains surpass 200cm annually and the climate is warm and humid with a wide range in temperatures depending on elevation.

Los Alisos National Park is inside a narrow fringe between Las Pavas River and La Jaya River. The zonal climate is warm with high humidity at lower levels and cold, nearly frozen, in high areas.To access it is necessary to take a country road from Alpachiri, situated 17km west of Concepcion. After 12km in a western direction, near Conventillo River, is found the eastern limit of the park, which has no accommodation or services. It is crossed by a precarious trail which it goes inside narrow gorges to Puesto Santa Rosa at 850m. Later, the same trail ascends to Puesto Los Chorizos, Refugio UTN, Puesto de La Mesada, Puesto Los Nacimientos y Puesto La Cascada, Puesto Las Cuevas , La Ciudacita (not open to the public) and Las Cuevas Mountain of 5,000 m.

25km West of San Miguel de Tucumán, the State Capital, are the San Javier Hills via Avenida Mate de Luna, called later Avenida Aconquija. From the top of the course there is a wide view of the valley with nearby towns such as Marcos Paz and the capital city below. In the surroundings, Tucumán University considers the area as a reserve and it is now recovering the old yungas, which has been highly altered by human activity. To the west is Villa Nogues, a residential settlement of the city, there is a road going to La Sala, Tapia, El Siambion, Raco and El Cadillal Lake, which is good for aquatic birds. In the north of the province, in a wide valley, is Trancas City, connected by national road 9, with an area of Yungas developed as a transitional zone with Chaco environments. Eastward are wavy plains surrounded by the eastern hillside of Sierra de Medina with Chaco Serrano vegetation such as horco cebil, cardones, horco quebracho forming closed clusters of forest where the Crowned Solitary-Eagle resides. In the west are the foothills the of Calchaqui Mountains where the preceding species are mixed with trees of tipa, cebil, pacará.

Some birds for Yungas are: Tataupa Tinamou, Neotropic Cormorant, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Cocoi Heron Striated & Whistling Heron, Cattle, Great & Snowy Egret, Muscovy & Torrent Duck, Speckled Teal, Collared Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Wood Stork, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Greater Yellowlegs, Black, King, Lesser Yellow-headed & Turkey Vulture, Andean Condor, Hook-billed and Plumbeous Kite, Bicoloured & Crane Hawk, Great Black & Roadside Hawk, Rufous-thighed Hawk, Short-tailed & Sharp-shinned Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Barred Forest & Peregrine Falcon, Crowned Solitary-Eagle, Black-and-Chestnut Eagle, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Southern Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Dusty-legged Guan, Rufous-sided Crake, Sungrebe, Southern Lapwing.

Band-tailed, Picazuro & Pale-vented Pigeon, Blue, Picui & Ruddy Ground-Dove, Eared, White-faced & White-tipped Dove, Green-cheeked, Mitred, White-eyed & Grey-hooded Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, Tucuman and Turquoise-fronted Amazon, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Guira & Squirrel Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Western Barn Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Middle American & Yungas Screech-Owl, Ferruginous, Andean & Yungas Pygmy-Owl, Spectacled & Buff-fronted Owl, Band-winged, Little & Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Ashy-tailed, Rothshild’s & White-collared Swift, Sparkling Violetear, Green & White-vented Violetear, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Blue-capped Puffleg, White-bellied Hummingbird, Red-tailed Comet, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Slender-tailed Woodstar, Gilded Sapphire, Amazon, Green & Ringed Kingfisher, Toco Toucan, White-barred Piculet, Cream-backed, Dot-fronted, Golden-green and Golden-olive Woodpecker, Black-banded, Great Rufous, Narrow-billed & Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Azara’s, Sooty-fronted & Stripe-crowned Spinetail.

Stripe-crowned Spinetail – ©Dubi Shapiro

Freckle-breasted, Rufous-fronted & Spot-breasted Thornbird, Buff-browed Foliage-Gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Giant, Great, Rufous-capped & Variable Antshrike, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Black Phoebe, Cream-winged Cinclodes (with the local subspecies tucumanus), White-winged Cinclodes, Plumbeous & Yellow-browed Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Easthern & Tropical Kingbird, Dusky-capped, Streaked, Swainson’s & Piratic Flycatcher, Rufous Casiornis, Tropical & Greater Pewee, Euler’s Flycatcher, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Bran-coloured & Cliff Flycatcher, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Pearly-vented Toddy-Tyrant, Mottled-cheeked & White-bellied Tyrannulet, Dinelli´s & Subtropical Doradito, White-throated Tyrannulet, Large, White-crested, Small-billed and Slaty Elaenia, Smoke-colored Pewee, Highland & Grenish Elaenia, Southern Scrub-Flycatcher, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, Southern Bearless-Tyrannulet, Buff-banded, Sclater’s & Rough-legged Tyrannulet, Suiriri, Variegated & Brown-crested Flycatcher, White-crested Tyrannulet, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Green-backed, White-winged & Crested-Becard, Cliff, White-winged & White-rumped Swallow, Southern Martin, Blue-and-white Swallow, Gray-breasted Martin, Bank Swallow, Tawny-headed & Rough-winged Swallow, Mountain Wren, Rufous-throated Dipper, Swainson’s, Chiguanco, Andean Slaty, Rufous-bellied & Creamy-bellied Thrush, Masked Gnatcatcher, White-browed Tapaculo, Stripe-capped Sparrow, Rusty-browed & Black-capped Warbling-Finch, Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch, Saffron Finch, Lined Seedeater, Dull-coloured Grassquit, Double-collared Seedeater, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Rusty-browed Warbling-Finch, Brown-capped Warbler, Yellow-striped Brush-Finch, Red Pileates-Finch, Red-crested Cardinal, Black-backed Grosbeak, Grayish & Golden-billed Saltator, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Common Bush-Tanager, Guira, Hepatic, Sayaca, Rust-and-yellow, Blue-and-yellow & Fawn-breasted Tanager, Golden-rumped, Purple-throated & Blue-hooded Euphonia, Cinnamon-bellied Flower-Pierce, Tropical Parula, Masked Yellowthroat, Brown-capped Whitestart, Golden-crowned Warbler, Rufous-browed Pepper-Shrike, Red-eyed Vireo, Golden-winged Cacique, Epaulet Oriole, Baywing, Screaming & Shiny Cowbird, Hooded Siskin, Plush-crested Jay.

Birding the Chaco – The Chaco is the most degraded area of Tucumán, occupied mostly by intensive sugar cane, livestock and citric cultivation. In the north, near Sierras de Medina, there is a transitional zone between Yungas with Chaco Seco de Llanura and Chaco Serrano in a moderate state of conservation, where Crowned Solitary-Eagle and Turquoise-fronted Amazon nest. This region comprised many low mountains with narrow valleys containing small brooks, some of them. Vegetation has a few species of Yungas as pacará, tipa, cebil with a mixed forest of quebracho blanco, horco quebracho, orco cebil and cardon.

Some of the birds are: Greater Rhea, Tataupa, Elegant-crested, Quebracho-crested, Red-winged, Brushland, Spotted & Darwin’s Tinamou, Turkey, Yellow-headed & Black Vulture, Pearl, White-tailed and Plumbeous Kite, Sharp-shinned, Crane, Bicolored, Swainson’s and Great Black-Hawk, Crowned Solitary-Eagle, Savanna & Roadside Hawk, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Harris´ & White-tailed Hawk, Southern Crested & Chimango Caracara, Spot-winged Falconet, American Kestrel, Bat, Aplomado Falcon and Peregrine Falcon, Chaco Chachalaca,, Red-legged & Black-legged Seriema, Southern Lapwing.

Rock Dove, Picazuro, Pale-vented & Spot-winged Pigeon, Eared Dove, Blue, Ruddy & Picui Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Mitred, Blue-crowned, Green-cheeked, White-eyed and Monk Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, Turquoise-fronted Amazon, Yellow-billed, Ash-coloured & Dark-billed Cuckoo, Greater & Smooth-billed Ani, Guira & Striped Cuckoo, Western Barn Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Burrowing Owl, Chaco & Striped Owl, Stygian & Short-eared Owl, Common Potoo, Common & Nacunda Nighthawk, Band-winged Nightjar, Little & Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Rothschild´s Swift, Ashy-tailed Swift, White-vented Violetear, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Gilded Sapphire, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Spot-backed Puffbird, White-barred Piculet, White, White-fronted, Checkered, Golden-green & Green-barred Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Black-bodied & Cream-backed Woodpecker.

Scimitar-billed, Great Rufous and Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Chaco Earthcreeper, Rufous & Crested Hornero, Tufted Tit-Spinetail, Sooty fronted, Pale-breasted and Stripe-crowned Spinetail, Short-billed Canastero, Little and Greater & Freckle-breasted Thornbird, Lark-like Brushrunner, Firewood Gatherer, Brown Cacholote, Great and Variable Antshrike, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Cinereous Tyrant, White, Grey, Black-crowned and Rusty-backed Monjita, Pied Water-Tyrant, Vermilion Flycatcher, Spectacled Tyrant, Yellow-browed & Cattle Tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Variegated & Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, Euler’s Flycatcher, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Swainson’s & Brown-crested Flycatcher, Rufous Casiornis, Tropical Pewee, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, White crested & White bellied Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Sooty Tyrannulet, White-napped Xenopsaris, White-throated Tyrannulet, Black-crested Finch, Large & Small-billed Elaenia, Southern Scrub & Suiriri Flycatcher, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, White-browed Ground-Tyrant, Crested Gallito, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, White-browed Tapaculo, Green-backed & White-winged Becard, White-tipped Plantcutter, White-rumped Swallow, Brown-chested & Gray-breasted Martin, Southern Martin, Tawny-headed & Rough-winged Swallow, House Wren, Chalk-browed & White-banded Mockingbird, Swainson’s Thrush, Rufous-bellied & Creamy-bellied Thrush, Masked Gnatcatcher, Correndera Pipit, Short-billed & Yellowish Pipit, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Tropical Parula, Rufous-browed Pepper-Shrike, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-hooded & Purple-throated Euphonia, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Blue-and-yellow & Sayaca Tanager, Hepatic & Guira Tanager, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Golden-billed & Greyish Saltator, Black-backed Grosbeak, Red-crested & Yellow-billed Cardinal, Yellow Cardinal, Red Pileates-Finch, Many-coloured Chaco-Finch, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Dark-throated & Double-collared Seedeater, Lined Seedeater, Blue Black & Dull-coloured Grassquit, Pampa Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Saffron Finch, Black-capped Warbling-Finch, Ringed & Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch, Black-crested Finch, Grassland & Stripe-capped Sparrow, Purplish & Plush-crested Jay, Golden-winged & Solitary Black Cacique, Epaulet Oriole, Chopi Blackbird, White-browed Blackbird, Baywing, Screaming & Shiny Cowbird, Hooded Siskin, House Sparrow.

Birding Chaco – Wetlands – The wet habitat in East and Northeast Tucumán represents a unique ecosystem, especially near Sali River and Rio Hondo Lake. Other rivers as Gastona, Chico and Marapa descend from the Aconquija Mountain and their waters flowing to the lake. Its types of vegetation include non-flooding and annually flooded riverside forests, wetlands, woodlands, savannas, grasslands, halophytic shrubby steppes, and cactus stands. But the entire ecosystem is degraded by sugar cane cultivation, livestock raising and citrus production. Minerals are discharged to the rivers system by copper exploitation in Baja La Alumbrera in Catamarca province. Now tainted water is piped to Ranchillos, near Tucumán City, for treatments Water is extracted and discharged by DP2 Channel to El Frontal Dam and the dry mineral is dispatched by train to Rosario. The community of Termas de Río Hondo, in the Province of Santiago del Estero, where the dam is settled, fears that the environment, their economic lifeblood and tourism are threatened by the industrial effluents discharged from the north by the sugar and mining industries through the Salí River system.

Many birds live here, such as: Least, Pied-billed & White-tufted Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, American Anhinga, Pinniated Bittern, Stripe-backed Bittern, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Whistling & Striated Heron, Cattle, Snowy & Great Egret, Cocoi Heron, Wood Stork & Maguari Stork, Jabiru, Plumbeous & Buff-necked Ibis, Bare-faced & White-faced Ibis, Coscoroba Swan, Andean Goose, Roseate Spoonbill, Southern Screamer, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Southern Widgeon, Red Shoveler, Torrent Duck, Ruddy Duck, White-faced & Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Crested Duck, Silver Teal, Puna Teal, White-cheeked Pintail, Muscovy Duck, Rosy-billed Pochard, Speckled & Cinnamon Teals, Comb & Brazilian Duck, Ringed Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Black-headed, Masked & Lake Duck, Andean & Chilean Flamingo, Osprey, Snail & Mississippi Kite, Crane Hawk, Cinereous & Long-winged Harrier, Great Black-Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, Grey & Short-tailed Hawk, Limpkin, Plumbeous & Spotted Rail, Gray-necked & Giant Wood-Rail, Yellow-breasted & Ash-throated Crake, Rufous-sided & Paint-billed Crake, Spot-flanked, Common & Purple Gallinule, Red-gartered Coot, White-winged & Red-fronted Coot, Wattled Jacana, South American Painted-Snipe, Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing, Collared Plover, Golden Plover, Diademed Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Yellowlegs, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Andean Snipe, Wilson Phalarope, Common Snipe, Gray-hooded Gull, Brown-hooded Gull, Large-billed Tern, Black Skimmers, Ringed, Amazon & Green Kingfisher, Greater & Smooth-billed Ani, Cream-winged Cinclodes (with local subspecies tucumanus), White-winged Cinclodes, Cordoba Cinclodes, Sickle-winged Nightjar, Yellow-throated Spinetail, Wren-like Rushbird, Gray Monjita, Spectacled Tyrant, Andean Negrito, Vermillion Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Sooty Tyrannulet, Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant, Pied Water-Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Dinelli’s & Crested Doradito, Warbling Doradito, Twany-headed Swallow, Rough-winged Swallow, Bank & Barn Swallow, Purple Martin, White-winged Swallow, Rusty-collared Seedeater, Grass Wren, Masked Yellowthroat, Chestnut Vented Conebill, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Unicoloured & Chestnut-capped Blackbird, Scarlet-headed Blackbird.

  • Juan Carlos Grasso

    Córdoba - Argentina | jcgrasso@arnet.com.ar or juangrasso23@yahoo.com.ar

Useful Reading

  • Mammals of Tucuman

    By RM Barquez, MA Mares & RA Ojeda | Oklahoma Museum of Natural History | 1991 | Paperback | 282 pages, Line drawings, maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781883090036 Buy this book from NHBS.com

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Campo de los Alisos

    InformationSatellite View
    This national park was created in order to protect a representative sample of the montanos jungle and forest ecosystem. Flora and fauna vary considerably with the different heights, from a jungle at lower levels to snow-covered mountainous terrain at 5,000m…
  • NP Reserva Provincial Los Sosa

    WebpageSatellite View
    Sus 890 hectáreas protegen 18 kilómetros que ascienden desde los 650 hasta los 1750 metros de altura sobre el nivel del mar. Debido a las condiciones biogeográficas, a medida que se incrementa la altitud, se puede percibir la disminución de la biodiversidad.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Beagle Birding

    Tour Operator
    Tafí provides an excellent alternative to enjoy interesting sightseeings and excursions to the high mountains, fresh valleys and springs among fields of fruit-trees.
  • Birdquest

    Tour Operator
    Specialities of the Argentine Andes, the Chaco and the Iberá Marshes
  • Serra dos Tucanos Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    North western Argentina is a land full of spectacular landscapes and with a vast cultural heritage. Remnants of buildings and roads from the “Great Inca Empire of the Sun” can still be found everywhere here, and many cultural events and pre-Hispanic rituals, such as that in honour of the “Pacha Mama” (Mother Earth), are still celebrated by the locals. Andean music is heard everywhere, and people still play their traditional instruments. This incredibly varied region has a great diversity of natural habitats, ranging from Yungas Cloud forest to dry Chaco Woodlands and High Andean Lagoons. The three provinces in the northwesternmost part of Argentina, Jujuy, Salta and Tucuman, host some pristine representatives of these habitats, all worth visiting for birders to find both diversity and a good numbers of native species.
  • Trogon Tours

    Tour Operator
    Trogon Tours is the official nature travel company of Birding Argentina, the leading birding and nature specialists for southern South America since 2001
Trip Reports
  • 2017 [09 September] - Luis Segura

    PDF Report
    A bird watching adventure covering most natural habitats of northern Argentina

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