Republic of Paraguay

Saffron Toucanet Pteroglossus bailloni ©Dubi Shapiro Website

Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America laying between latitudes 19° and 28°S, and longitudes 54° and 63°W. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. It has a population of around seven million people, over half of whom (3.5 million) live in the capital and largest city of Asunción, and its surrounding metro area. The Chaco in the west, 60% of the country, has just 2% of the population.  Although one of only two landlocked countries in South America (Bolivia is the other), Paraguay has ports on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers that give navigable exit to the Atlantic Ocean, through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway.

Paraguay is divided by the Río Paraguay into two well differentiated geographic regions. The eastern region (Región Oriental); and the western region, officially called Western Paraguay (Región Occidental) and also known as the Chaco. The terrain consists mostly of grassy plains and wooded hills in the eastern region. To the west are mostly low, marshy plains. Paraguay contains six terrestrial ecoregions: Alto Paraná Atlantic forests, Chaco, Cerrado, Humid Chaco, Pantanal, and Paraná flooded savanna. The Guarani Aquifer is an important exoreic basin draining into the rivers of the region.

The overall climate is tropical to subtropical. Like most lands in the region, Paraguay has only wet and dry periods. Winds play a major role in influencing Paraguay’s weather: between October and March, warm winds blow from the Amazon Basin in the north, while the period between May and August brings cold winds from the Andes. The absence of mountain ranges to provide a natural barrier allows winds to develop speeds as high as 161 km/h (100 mph). This also leads to significant changes in temperature within a short span of time; between April and September, temperatures will sometimes drop below freezing. January is the hottest summer month, with an average daily temperature of 28.9 degrees Celsius (84 degrees F). Rainfall varies dramatically across the country, with substantial rainfall in the eastern portions, and semi-arid conditions in the far west. The far eastern forest belt receives an average of 170 centimetres (67 inches) of rain annually, while the western Chaco region typically averages no more than 50 cm (20 in) a year. The rains in the west tend to be irregular and evaporate quickly, contributing to the aridity of the area.

Chaco Boreal Paraguay 

The main drivers of the economy are minerals and agriculture, with a range of produce including stevia (which produces non-metabolised sweeteners) and beef, but especially soya beans of which Paraguay is the sixth largest producer in the world. This is largely owned by multinationals and uses huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides.

Birding Paraguay

Sandwiched between the giants of the continent 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 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!

Spot-billed Toucanet  Selenidera maculirostris ©Dubia Shapiro

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 4×4 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 travel with an expert guide. However, with a modern English-language fieldguide 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: 718

    (As of May 2024)
  • Chaco Nothura Nothura chacoensis has been suggested but all studies confirm it is a subspecies of Nothura maculosa
  • Avibase

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Paraguay , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers. If you find any error, please do not hesitate to report them.
  • Fauna Paraguay

    The following is a current list of the 718 bird species accepted on the Paraguayan list based on the forthcoming Field Guide to the Birds of Paraguay (Smith and Clay) which incorporates new taxonomic changes by the SACC and other published sources, and suggested standardised English names proposed by the IOC. The Spanish and Guaraní names are given respectively after the scientific name and are based on the Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Paraguay (Clay and del Castillo 2004). Click on species links for access to its image gallery. Click on family links for family characteristics.
  • Wikipedia

    Annotated List
    The avifauna of Paraguay has 694 confirmed species, of which two have been introduced by humans, 39 are rare or vagrants, and five are extirpated or extinct. An additional 27 species are hypothetical (see below). None are endemic.
  • eBird

    PDF Checklist
    Paraguay 536 species (+3 other taxa) - Year-round, Current year
Useful Reading

  • Areas Importantes para la Conservación de las Aves del Paraguay

    | (Important Bird Areas for Conservation in Paraguay) | Edited by: RP Clay, JL Cartes, H Del Castillo & A Lesterhuis | GUYRA Paraguay | 2008 | Hardback | 470 pages, Figures, tables, colour photos| Spanish | ISBN: 9789995384821 Buy this book from
  • Atlas de las Aves del Paraguay

    | (Atlas of the Birds of Paraguay) | By Hugo del Castillo & Robert P Clay | GUYRA Paraguay | 2005 | Paperback | 212 pages, distribution maps | Spanish | Out of Print | ISBN: 9789992586839 Buy this book from
  • Guía de Nidos de Aves del Paraguay

    | (Birds of Paraguay Eggs & Nests) | By Martín R de la Peña | GUYRA Paraguay | 2010 | Paperback | 696 pages, colour photos & b/w line drawings throughout | Spanish | ISBN: 9789995384845 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • National bird

    Procnias nudicollis
Museums & Universities
  • 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
  • Fauna Paraguay

    FAUNA Paraguay has been conceived as a virtual, online community dedicated to the magnificent Paraguayan fauna. Ornithology is the study of birds and with over 700 species so far recorded in Paraguay there is a lot of work to be done! Paraguay has been overlooked by birders for decades and is one of the most under-watched countries in South America, so the potential for new discoveries is vast. However, as in the rest of the continent, ornithologists face a race against time as natural habitats disappear at an alarming rate.
  • Fundacion Moises Bertoni (FMB)

    The WBF works in an innovative way for sustainable development, through the conservation of nature with social responsibility and the active participation of the population.
  • GUYRA Paraguay

    The BirdLife partner in Paraguay. GUYRA PARAGUAY Association is a civil society non-profit organization that works in the defense and protection of the biological diversity of our country and the organized action of the population, in order to ensure the necessary living space so that future generations can know representative samples of the natural wealth of Paraguay.
  • Para La Tierra - Conservation in Paraguay

    WeWe’re dedicated to conserving fragile habitats in Paraguay through scientific research, community engagement, and environmental education. Our field sites stretch from the wetlands of Ñeembucú to the deep Atlantic Forest of Alto Parana, including all the river systems, marshes, and Chaco regions in between.

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Refugio Mbaracayú

    InformationSatellite View
    The Mbaracayú (Maracaju) Biological Sanctuary is a binational reserve, located on the border between Paraguay and Brazil. It is one of the sites earmarked as ecological reserve by Itaipu Binacional, which operates the Itaipu Dam. Before the creation of the Refuge, the area was devoid of vegetation; in less than ten years of intensive work of environmental recovery, the area has been completely reforested. In this Refuge are identified over 250 species of birds, highlighting three new records for Paraguay: Anhima cornuta, Picummus albosquammatus and Schistochlamys melanopis.
  • NP Cerro Cora

    InformationSatellite View
    Cerro Cora National Park (also spelled Cerro Corá) is the largest protected area in Paraguay with 5,538 hectares. It is located in Amambay Department, 45 km from the departmental capital, Pedro Juan Caballero and the border with Brazil. Established on February 11, 1976, it is a nature reserve
  • NP Nacunday

    InformationSatellite View
    The park also protects a stretch of the Ñacunday River, which, because of its length and volume, is habitat for a rich variety of fishes, especially in the area of its outlet to the Paraná River.
  • NP San Rafael

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
  • NP Ypoá

    InformationSatellite View
    One of the objectives is the preservation and protection of the wetlands of Ñeembucú and of the biodiversity of ecosystems and characteristic species of it. Also protects natural landscapes of and exceptional beauty.
  • Paraguay's National Parks

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Site Names & Locations
  • Ramsar Wetlands in Paraguay

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • BirdQuest

    Tour Operator
    Birdquest’s Paraguay birding tours are a journey in search of wonderful birds (and mammals too!) through one of South America’s least-known countries. For Chaco birding, Paraguay has no equals – Bolivia and Northern Argentina are not as good!
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Tour Operator
  • Fauna Paraguay

    Tour Operator
    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
  • Paraguay Birding & Nature

    Tour Operator
    "We are a pioneering company in birding, wildlife, nature ecotourism and photography safaris in Paraguay. We are located in Asunción, the capital of this beautiful country in the heart of South America. Importantly, we are passionate observers of birds and wildlife, and have turned this passion into a company specializing in Nature and Wildlife Tourism since 2003.
  • Rockjumper

    Tour Operator
    Our very comprehensive, 18 day Paraguay birding & wildlife tour takes in all of Paraguay’s diverse habitats, ranging from Humid Chaco, Dry Chaco and Cerrado to the endemic and species-rich Atlantic Forest. High on our priority list are the “Chaco Big 6” - Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Chaco Owl, Crested Gallito, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Black-legged Seriema and Spot-winged Falconet, with other outstanding species including the globally endangered White-winged Nightjar, Helmeted Woodpecker, Strange-tailed and Cock-tailed Tyrants, plus a plethora of scarce seedeaters.
  • Wildlife Tours Paraguay

    Tour Operator
    Paraguay is still limited as a tourism destination. We have developed itineraries that would take you to the most distant and wild areas of the country.
Trip Reports
  • 2016 [10 October] - Hervé & Noëlle Jacob

    PDF Report
    But the best help came from the fantastic website Fauna Paraguay by Paul Smith, who generously shares so many informations. He organises guided tours, and guides for other companies; as we have time, and our pleasure being the research of the birds by ourselves, we could organise our independant trip thanks to his website.
  • 2017 [10 October] Paul Smith

    PDF Report
    With just short of 400 birds and 17 mammals Paraguay once again proved why it is South America’s fastest growing birding destination. The "Forgotten Heart of South America", may still be an “off the beaten track” destination that appeals mainly to adventurous birders, but thanks to some easy walking, stunning natural paradises and friendly, welcoming population, it is increasingly becoming a “must visit” country.
  • 2022 [07 July] - Rob Jansen

    PDF Report
    This trip report covers the Chaco region in west Paraguay. We travelled this part in about 3 weeks from the 4 th – 26 th of July 2022.
  • 2022 [11 November] - Eduardo Ormaeche

    PDF Report
    ...A birding tour to Paraguay provides unique opportunities to find especially tough birds such as Chaco Owl, Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Black-bodied and Robust Woodpeckers, Vinaceous-breasted Amazon, White-winged Nightjar, Cock-tailed Tyrant, and other iconic species of southern South America...
Other Links
  • Fauna Paraguay

    FAUNA Paraguay has been conceived as a virtual, online community dedicated to the magnificent Paraguayan fauna. For a brief summary of what this site offers see the site map at the bottom of this page. Like Paraguay itself this website is a constantly changing environment that will be updated regularly and benefit immensely from the input of its users.

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