Endemic birds from Chile

Small, big, quiet, loud, grey or green, Chile has a great variety of endemic birds that can only be appreciated in our national territory.

Island Conservation | Flickr
Island Conservation | Flickr

Our national territory stands out for spanning more than 4,000 kilometers from north to south, which not only makes Chile the longest country in the world, but also allows a great array of ecosystems; each of them with their own flora and fauna. Due to the great amount of forests and trees that are part of our country, it is expected to have several species of birds that nest within the national territory, with a 2% of them being endemic.

In the far north, specifically in the Azapa and Quitor Valleys, it is possible to find the smallest bird in the whole country; the Chilean woodstar. This tiny animal does not weigh over 3 grams and it stands out for the colour of the male, whose neck has a metallic purple colour. This species feeds on the nectar collected from flowers and small insects and arachnids.

From the north of the country to the city of Valdivia, and in the rocky shores, it is possible to observe the Chilean seaside cinclodes; a dark colored bird with white details, that feeds itself with small mollusks and seashells, found within the seaweed and sand.

Despite of being part of the north of our country, the Atacama Region is a popular area for endemic birds to put their nests in. One of them is the Atacama oasis hummingbird, a 12 centimeters bird with soft coloured feathers that inhabits the Caldera area, next to the Copiapó river and the Barquito small cove. Within the same area it is possible to find the Crag chilia; a 17-centimeters bird that inhabits the deserted hillsides; whose feathers tend to be brown and yellow. The crag chilia tends to live in the same areas that another endemic bird, the white throated tapaculo, but this one is bigger and, despite having brown feathers, they are more pale, with little specks of red and a white coloured chest.

Another bird that appears in this region, but that only reaches the Llanquihue area, is the Chilean tinamou. In opposition to other birds, they put their nests in the floor and it is the male the one in charge of incubating the egg and take care of the chicks. It is currently considered a protected species due to the increasing interest in its hunting.

The moustached turca is a bird that lives between the Coquimbo and the Bío Bío Regions. It feeds on insects, worms and berries, which they find by digging the ground. But, without a doubt, what makes this bird so special is that it spends most of the time in the ground and it barely flies, they prefer to walk or even run if necessary.

The colourful burrowing parrot lives in the center-south area of the country, 80% of its population can be found in the O’Higgins and Maule Regions. It is impossible for this bird to go unnoticed due to its lime green coloured feathers, with yellow, orange, blue and grey details. These birds embellish the trees and skies of our country. It is worth noting that this bird often mates for life and both parents are equally in charge of the chicks.

Another endemic parrot is the slender-billed parakeet that in opposition to the previous one has feathers that are almost completely green, with only small specks of other colours. Contrary to most of the birds, the female and male have no difference in appearance. This bird is known for being extremely loud and friendly. They can be found between Valparaíso Region and the Chiloé Archipelago.

But if we are talking about endemic species in our country it is necessary to mention those birds that only live in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, an area that stands out worldwide for its unique ecosystem. Among the birds that are popular in the region we have the Juan Fernández firecrown; while the male is of a strong red colour, the female feathers are bright and green, these differences made several naturalists believe that they were two different species.

Another bird is the Juan Fernández tit-tyrant, that inhabits the forest of the Robinson Crusoe island, it is no bigger than 14 centimeters and its colours are black, white and specially grey. Finally, in the Alejandro Selkirk Island it is possible to appreciate the Masafuera rayadito, whose natural habitat extends for no more than 11 square kilometers. This grey and yellow coloured bird stands out for its sharp tail, which has brown and black feathers.