Plurinational State of Bolivia

Titicaca Flightless Grebe Rollandia microptera ©Pete Morris of Birdquest Website
Birding Bolivia

Whatever mental images that you have of Bolivia, and get rid of them. Pretend that you have never even heard the name before. Now that you have no preconceptions I will try to put the pieces of a new jig-saw together to create a completely new picture of Bolivia for you.

First imagine hundreds of kilometres of hot and humid Rainforest with Parrots, Toucans, Ovenbirds and Antbirds abounding. File this in your archive. Now imagine a vast area of hot tropical, varied grasslands with palms trees, and river-edge tropical forest, and dry thorny forest patches. Imagine the Jabiru, Storks, Ibises, Ducks, and Herons in abundances beyond counting – they seem to be everywhere. Add 7 species of Macaw (including one of the world’s rarest Parrots and endemic to this region – the Blue-throated Macaw); Rheas and Crane Hawks. Now go southeast from these Semi-inundated Beni Pampas to the flooded marshes of the Pantanal, with its awesome Hyacinth Macaw. Here are Giant River Otters and marsh birds flitting through the reeds.

Now imagine these open areas flooded with Austral migrants from Argentina – massive mixed flocks of Seedeaters. Add to this image under our label Bolivia, a massive extension of dry Chiquitania forest, which spreads south to the open dry forests of the Chaco. And now, after covering 60% of the country we reach the Andes Mountains. Imagine yourself at the lowland base of the Andes, ready to slowly drive up the slope to experience the altitudinally arranged bird communities, from 500 to 1000m, to 1000m to 2000m, to 3000m to 3600m. But before you start your climb you can see the humid wet yungas bird community, or would you rather climb the dry edge with cactus and scrub and highly adapted birds to these regions. Finally (and it should be the final part to any real visit to allow your body to adjust to the altitude changes) add cold, clear-air sites of the high Andean altiplano, the 3 flamingo species of Lake Ururo, and the Flightless Grebe of Lake Titicaca. And place on top of these images, the high altitude threatened Polylepis forests of Bolivia such as San Miguel with 8 endemic species – creatures adapted to a species of tree that is going extinct as it is cut down for firewood.

Add to this habitat diversity, a gentle, kind diversity of people. A population of less than 9 million, Bolivia is still 80% undeveloped. Travel through indigenous cultures, many different local languages, clothes, faces and shapes adapted to the varying climates the country offers. Each new bird community holds a habitat change that adds a new dish to the local menu. High Andean cactus fruits down to Lowland tropical fruits like Chirimoya, Mango, Guineo, Leche de majo, and many more.

The Bolivian novice should first come for a sample trip. Beginning from the city of Santa Cruz, visiting the dry Andes, the temperate foothill forest, the dry forest and the open areas with Chaco influence of Santa Cruz’s city park Lomas de Arena. Fly to Cochabamba (middle height) to drive down the wettest Yungas of Bolivia, down, down into the hot heat. Go see the Oilbirds, and try to find a Cock-of-the-Rock. Spend a night in Cochabamba to head to the Polylepis forest in Tunari Park for a day – and don’t leave without seeing the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch – since that is the only place you can see it. Fly to La Paz, and spend a day at Lago Titicaca, and another few days back down Yungas. Fly to Trinidad and wow at the exaggerated abundances of these tropical open area birds. And then fly to Santa Cruz to finish the trip.

Bolivia is the ideal place to start to learn the birds of South America. After a trip in Bolivia, you will know all the major habitat types South America has to offer. For some the humidity is too much, for some the thin cold air is draining, for some the dry forest bugs are intolerable and for some it is all just beautiful.

Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 1383

    (As at May 2019)
  • Number of bird species: National Bird

    Andean condor Vultur gryphus
Endemics
  • Number of endemics: 16

    5 Non-passerines:
    Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys Cliff Parakeet Myiopsitta luchsi Coppery Thorntail Popelairia letitiae Black-hooded Sunbeam Aglaeactis pamela

    11 Passerines:
    Bolivian Earthcreeper Upucerthia harterti Bolivian Spinetail Cranioleuca henricae Black-throated Thistletail Schizoeaca harterti Berlepsch's Canastero Asthenes berlepschi Rufous-faced Antpitta Grallaria erythrotis Masked Antpitta Hylopezus auricularis Unicolored Thrush Turdus haplochrous Bolivian Brush-Finch Atlapetes rufinucha Cochabamba Mountain-Finch Poospiza garleppi Grey-bellied Flower-piercer Diglossa carbonaria Bolivian Blackbird Oreopsar bolivianus

Checklist

  • Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • An Annotated List of the Birds of Bolivia

    | By JV Remsen & MA Taylor | Harrell Books | 1989 | Paperback | 79 pages, Tabs, maps | ISBN: 9780931130168 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Bolivia Field Guide

    | By Sebastian K Herzog et al| Asociacion Armonía | (2019) TBA | Paperback | 491 pages, 230 plates with colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9789990596182 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Voices of Andean Birds: Volume 1

    | (Birds of the Hill Forest of Southern Peru and Bolivia ) | By Thomas S Schulenber | Cornell Lab Publishing Group | Audio | ISBN: #123197 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Voices of Andean Birds: Volume 2

    | (Birds of the Cloud Forest of Southern Peru and Bolivia) | By Thomas S Schulenber | Cornell Lab Publishing Group | Audio | ISBN: #123198 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • Associacion Armonia

    Calle Mdxico 110, esquina Ecuador, Casilla 3081, Santa Cruz de Ia Sierra Bolivia. + 591 3 371 005; armonia@scbbs-bo.com
  • Birder's Guide to Bolivia

    Downloadable Guide: http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/bolivia/bolivia5/birdersguide.pdf
Organisations
  • Armonia

    Website
    The BirdLife partner in Bolivia: Asociación Armonía, Av. Lomas de Arena # 400, Zona Palmasola, Santa Cruz de la Sierra - Tel: 591 – 3 – 3568808 armonia@armonia-bo.org The mission of Armonía is to conserve Bolivia’s birds and their habitats, creating a country where wildlife and people can thrive
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Beni Biological Station Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Welcome to this web site. Information found here focuses on the Beni Biological Station Reserve where many years of research have been undertaken on savanna bird species. This site deals primarily with the project and its discoveries, conservation issues, and a feature on the birds of conservation importance and interest found in the reserve…
  • Biosphere Reserves in Bolivia

    InformationSatellite View
    Estacion Biologica Beni; Parque Nacional Pilon-Lajas and Reserva Nacional de Fauna Ulla Ulla Biosphere Reserves
  • NP Aguaragüe

    InformationSatellite View
    The national park covers the whole of Serranía del Aguaragüe, the easternmost mayor Sub-Andean range.
  • NP Amboro

    InformationSatellite View
    An ecological masterpiece with over 700 birds, jungle cats and the rare spectacled bear…
  • NP Cotapata

    InformationSatellite View
    It is situated in the northwest of the department, in the Nor Yungas and Murillo provinces in the Coroico and La Paz Municipalities, about 50 km (31 mi) away from the city of La Paz.
  • NP Iñao

    InformationSatellite View
    It is situated in the provinces of Belisario Boeto, Tomina (Padilla Municipality), Hernando Siles (Monteagudo Municipality) and Luis Calvo (Villa Vaca Guzmán Municipality).
  • NP Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco

    InformationSatellite View
    It is the biggest national park in Bolivia and one of the largest in South America. It is a protected area in the region of the Gran Chaco and has a larger surface area than Belgium. It is situated in the south of Santa Cruz Department on the border with Paraguay in the Cordillera Province (Charagua Municipality) and Chiquitos Province (Pailón Municipality and San José de Chiquitos Municipality). The fauna present in the area is representative of the Chaqueña plains region, with 350 registered species, 89 species of snakes, 301 species of birds, 65 species of small mammals and 59 species of large mammals.
  • NP Madidi

    InformationSatellite View
    National Geographic has rated 1,895,750-he Madidi National Park with its 988 listed species as one of the world's most extensive biodiversity reserves. Its humid tropical climate has spawned one of Bolivia's richest woodlands…
  • NP Otuquis

    InformationSatellite View
    It comprises a total area of 1,005,950 hectares (2,485,800 acres), 903,350 hectares (2,232,200 acres) corresponding to the category national park and 102,600 hectares (254,000 acres) to the category "Integrated Management Natural Area". Otuquis National Park is popular for birders when millions of birds flock here to feed on huge schools of bait fish.
  • Ramsar Wetlands in Bolivia

    WebpageSatellite View
    Bolivia currently has 11 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 14,842,405 hectares.
Guides & Tour Operators


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  • Bird Bolivia Tours

    Tour Operator
    Bird Bolivia is a Bolivia Bird tour agency. We live here and constantly keep abreast on changes, new options, and recent observations. We have years of experience with birding routes and sites, hotels, restaurants, and the best way to get things done in Bolivia. We specialise in Bolivia to offer the best quality, punctual and professional tours possible, while supporting conservation and local communities. We have specialised English speaking local bird guides well trained in our birding routes and Bolivian specialities. Click on the graphics below to find out about our organised bird tours. We also can provide custom tours.
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Bolivia has a much higher bird species diversity than most birders actually realise, with over 1,400 species, In reality, Bolivia must surely be the most diverse land-locked country on the planet! Bolivia is famous for it's high mountains but in reality this country offers an amazing altitudinal variation from almost see level to 6,542 metres, and a staggering array of habitats ranging from Amazonian lowland to high altitude desert (and everything in between). Our South American office manager, Eduardo, rates Bolivia as one of his top destinations...
  • Neblina Forest

    Tour Operator
    Neblina Forest is an Ecuadorian company established in 1994 to promote Ecuador's avifauna and its wilderness, and by extension South America's, throughout a variety of bird watching tours. We are the only nature tourism company in our country able to offer a fully Ecuadorian / South American staff of birding and nature guides.
Trip Reports


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  • 2012 [09 September] - Dan Lane & Willy Perez

    Report
    …“Lake Beni” was inhabited by the Amazon River Dolphin, but because of the continued presence of the rocky arch on the Rio Madeira, forming rapids today, the Beni population and that in the Amazon proper have became isolated, and now two taxa exist: species in the eyes of some mammalogists. Similar things happened to several birds such as Plain Softtail, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Varzea and Unicolored thrushes, and a pair of macaws with blue and yellow plumage….
  • 2012 [09 September] - Dan Lane & Willy Perez

    Report
    …We began in the Santa Cruz lowlands enjoying such things as Red-legged Seriema, White-eared Puffbird, and a surprise Stripe-backed Antbird, among others. As we entered the foothills, where the last gasps of Amazonia just reach their limits, we spied Masked Ducks, Military Macaws, and the smart Yungas Manakin…
  • 2012 [10 October] - Barry Walker

    Report PDF
    …Macaw day! And what a show – we drove down to San Rafael and the Rio Misque near Saipina and were treated to 40+ Red-fronted Macaws – wow. Morning birding here and return to Comarapa for lunch and then afternoon birding above Torrecillas at 2800-2850 meters. Night Comparapa…
  • 2013 [09 September] - Dan Lane

    Report
    …Rusty-winged Savanna Hawks, giant Jabiru storks, flocks of Roseate Spoonbills, gobs of Limpkin, and oodles of parakeets were among the many sights we enjoyed…
  • 2013 [09 September] - Dan Lane

    Report
    …the pair of Andean Avocets resting in an altiplano marsh, the graceful Swallow-tailed Kites enjoying thermals over humid montane forests, the surprisingly colored Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, the Giant Conebill pair that showed up out of nowhere and sang away as we gawked….
  • 2013 [09 September] - Eustace Barnes

    PDF Report
    …The cloud forests at both Siberia and on the Chapare road were outstanding with one morning producing Barred and Band-tailed Fruiteaters, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Crested Quetzal, White-eared Solitaire, Black-winged Parrots, Hooded Mountain Toucan and the rare Rufous-bellied Bush- Tyrant…
  • 2014 [07 July] - Stephen Blaber

    Report
    ...We drove on to Los Volcanes, stopping at the start of the entrance road at Carlos’s family home. Here we met Vicente and transferred to a Los Volcanes vehicle for the steep drive down into the Reserve. Carlos bade us farewell and arranged to pick us up, down in the reserve, in three days time. The lodge situated in a grassy bowl is surrounded by conical mountains and rainforest – a spectacular location with the constant calling of flocks of Green-cheeked Parakeets, Plush-capped and Purple Jays, and Crested and Dusky Green Oropendolas. After a late lunch cooked by Carlos’s sister Benita. We birded around the lodge and on the Manakin trail with Vicente, but it was a quiet afternoon. At dinner we arranged for Vicente to act as guide on the trails the next day – although not a birder, he has very sharp eyes and knows the best sites for the key species!..
  • 2014 [09 September] - Dan Lane

    Report
    ...A day spent exploring these valles was rewarded with many of our targets, including seven Red-fronted Macaws and two Cream-backed Woodpeckers, among others! The following day we ascended the ridge by Comarapa, and the overcast conditions worked in our favor: amazing views of such skulkers as Giant Antshrike, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, and Rufous-faced Antpitta were astounding!...
  • 2014 [11 November] - Sue Bryan

    Report
    This was a birding holiday organised by Birding Ecotours as a customised trip to Bolivia for the two of us. Eduardo assured me that with the right diet and taking a small bottle of oxygen with me, which he would supply, I would manage it as I suffer from altitude sickness rather badly. Eduardo put together a wonderful tour which we partly pioneered to see the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw.
  • 2015 [09 September] - Dan Lane

    Report
    This was another wonderful visit to the Beni, a region of northern Bolivia that is the remnant of an inland sea or lake that drained through the Madeira Arch several hundred thousand years ago, but still fills with water during the wet season....
  • 2015 [09 September] - Forrest Rowland

    PDF Report
    Bolivia has a very distinctive allure. It does not have the longest list of birds of any South American country. It does not have the best infrastructure or accommodations of any South American country. It doesn’t even have a field guide to the birds of the country...
  • 2015 [10 October] - Eustace Barnes

    PDF Report
    Bolivia, the land of parrots! As usual, we found both spectacular endangered endemic Macaws but we also had great views of Titicaca Grebe, the rarely seen Ocellated Crake, Black-winged Parrot, Black-hooded Sunbeam, Hooded Mountain Toucan, Bolivian Recurvebill, Masked Antpitta, Scimitar-winged Piha, Unicoloured Thrush and a good number of mammals including Giant Anteater and Lesser Grison...
  • 2017 [10 October] - János Oláh

    PDF Report
    It was hot and very quiet to start 3 BirdQuest Tour Report: Bolivia www.birdquest-tours.com with but we had great looks of Johannes’s and Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrants and also Short-tailed Pygmy Tyrant. Activity was getting better and a brief Amazonian Umbrellabird was followed by nice views of Whiteeyed Attila. In the late afternoon as we were enjoying some superb Band-tailed Manakins we heard the first Masked Antpitta.
  • 2017 [11 November] - Eduardo Ormaeche - Andes & Lowlands

    PDF Report
    With a list of 22 species of parrots, this is one of the best countries in South America for Psittacidae with species like Blue-throated Macaw and Red-fronted Macaw, both Bolivian endemics
  • 2017 [12 December] - Richard Amable

    PDF Report
    Annotated list
  • 2018 [09 September] - Dan Lane - Beni

    Report
    The crown jewel, as far as birders are concerned, is the highly endangered and range-restricted Blue-throated Macaw, which is only found in palm “islands” scattered about the center of the Beni. This macaw was only “rediscovered” in the 1990s, when conservationists went undercover to follow the chain of the illegal pet trade to find the source of birds appearing on the black market. That led to these lonely palm islands in the Beni, and shortly thereafter, conservation groups such as ARMONIA began a campaign to preserve this species, which is down to approximately 300 individuals in the wild. We wish them well!
  • 2018 [11 November] - Jose Antonio Padilla - Highlands

    PDF Report
    ...Andean Gull, Picui Ground Dove, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Rufous Hornero, Wren-like Rushbird, Plain Tyrannulet, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, Tropical Kingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, White-tipped Plantcutter, Sand Martin, Blue and White Swallows & Barn Swallows, Great and Creamy-bellied Thrushes, House Sparrows (introduced in South America), Hooded Siskins, Shiny Cowbirds, Greyish Baywings, Yellow-winged Blackbirds, the very common Rufous-collared Sparrows, Sayaca and Blue and Yellow Tanagers, Grey-crested and Saffron Finches, among others...
  • 2018 [11 November] - Jose Antonio Padilla - Lowlands

    PDF Report
    We had a short break for lunch, and then we moved on a little and we found Pearled Treerunner, Masked Flowerpiercer, Chestnut-collared & White Collared Swifts, Scale-naped Parrots, Blue-crowned & Mitred Parakeets, Light-crowned Spinetail, Rufous-faced Antpitta (briefly), Trilling Tapaculo, Barred Becard, Andean Slaty Thrush, and many more.
Places to Stay


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  • Bird Bolivia

    Accommodation
    Bird Bolivia is a tourism agency that strives to offer quality, punctual and professional services, while supporting conservation and local communities (including training, lodge promotion
  • Chalalan Ecolodge

    Accommodation
    San Jose de Uchupiamonas, an indigenous village lying within Bolivia's Madidi National Park envisioned a rain forest lodge as a way to protect their land and create jobs that would keep the forest standing. Chalalan--a premier community ecolodge for exploring Bolivia's Amazon region--is the result of the village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas's vision. Visitors to the Chalalan Ecolodge stay in comfortable thatched-roof cabins overlooking a beautiful lake, surrounded by a vast expanse of jungle. Local guides lead guests through pristine forests where they can spot troops of monkeys, herds of wild peccary, nesting macaws, and tapirs.
  • El Puente Lodge

    Accommodation
    Located in the exuberant world of the most humid tropical forest on Earth, on the edge of the the Carrasco National Park, El Puente Lodge is set among 40 hectares (100 acres) of preserved rainforest. You can explore self-guided paths to streams of crystal water and natural pools while looking at dozens of rare birds, butterflies, and glittering insects
Other Links
  • Birds of Bolivia

    Website
    It took four years, but the second version of our Bolivian Birds CD-ROM is out, to general acclaim! (see the reviews) It contains 2530 sound recordings (over 19 hours, thanks to MP3 compression) of 941 bird species, all occurring in Bolivia, with accompanying texts and identifications of all background species. And the CD-ROM now has photographs: 1390 of 756 species (639 occurring in Bolivia and an additional 117 species from northern Peru and Ecuador).
  • Blue Throated Macaw Conservation

    Webpage
    In nineteen ninety nine and we decided to go to Bolivia on our annual parrot spotting trip. Sparsely populated and landlocked Bolivia includes territory from the Andes to the Amazon basin, from glaciers to jungle and from desert to swamp. Twenty five percent of all species of birdlife lives here…
  • Bolivian Birding Localities

    Website
    There are also some site descriptions and trip reports on this site: see two birding sites near La Paz (La Paz); Vallegrande - Masicuri (Santa Cruz); Narvaez - Villa Charcas (Chuquisaca and Tarija); and Tariquia (Tarija).There are maps on the pages about La Cumbre, the Choquetanga valley, and Cotapata (La Paz); about Inquisivi (La Paz) and about Riberalta (Beni).

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