Bariloche Nature ...
Hidden in the thick of the woods, fauna is omni-present in San Carlos de Bariloche, offering the evidence of footprints and tracks to the attentive tourist.
One of the emblematic birds of Argentine Patagonia is the majestic condor. These can be seen when they soar above the high mountaintops and glide in circles. From the ground, they are easy to recognize by their color, completely black, except for a white "collar".
Huemul (deer), pumas, pudu, foxes and woodpeckers can be also seen. These are some of the unobtrusive inhabitants of the area.
To the east, reduced rainfall creates a landscape of ravines and practically dry plateaus, with a total predominance of the Patagonian steppe. This is the kingdom of yellow and orange grasses, typical of the westernmost humid area of the steppe. There foxes, pumas and guanacos wander around, together with birds of prey, such as the cinereous harrier and the American kestrel, typical birds of this area.
On the cliffs of some of the Nahuel Huapi islands, there is a population of blue-eyed cormorants, a really curious fact, as this is preferentially a seagoing species. It is also common to see kelp gulls following the boats.
One of the typical fauna species of the region is the huillín, a meat-eating mammal that has its main population in this park in Argentina. This is a native otter that lives on the shores of lakes, lagoons, rivers and streams. It has a longish body covered in brown fur, highlighted with reddish or orange hues, short legs and a long tail.
Another interesting species is the colonial tuco-tuco. This is a rodent that lives in underground warrens and its natural distribution is limited to Nahuel Huapi National Park.
Calafate Nature ...
Los Glaciares National Park hosts animal species typical of the sub-Antarctic forest and the steppe. Among these we may mention the condor, the black-chested buzzard eagle, the lesser rhea, the guanaco and the puma (cougar or mountain lion), among many others, including abundant bird life.
There is a limited amount of information on the mammals inhabiting the area. What there is comes from park ranger reports and some old studies on middling to large size mammals, plus circumstantial data on some of the species.
As well as the species mentioned above, we have the European hare, the red fox and, to a far lesser extent, the gray fox, the gato del pajonal and the gato montés (mountain cat or lynx).
The Park has some surviving and apparently isolated populations of huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus). A recent study of this quadruped has established the presence of an important population in the Mascarello river valley and the western part of Lake Viedma, between Viedma Lagoon and Seno Moyano (Viedma Channel).
In some of these areas it is also possible to find the chinchillón anaranjado (orange colored chinchilla, or by its scientific name Lagidium Wolffsohni), a very rarely found species.
It is also common to find domestic species such as horses and cows that have gone wild. The latter are quite abundant in some areas.
A major mammal population is that of horses, totaling some 15 thousand individuals only in the area populated by huemul in the Mascarello valley. This situation is a problem for the experts, because any sudden drop in the horse population would leave the huemul at the mercy of the pumas.
Information available on the Park's birdlife is very recent, for the most part dating from after 1980. However, it is quite complete. Up to the moment some 100 different species of birds have been registered as inhabiting the area.
Among this significant diversity are species that are considered to be specially valuable for conservation, such as the lesser rhea or "short ñandú" (Pterocnemia pennata), the condor (Vultur gryphus), the torrent duck (Merganetta armata), the white-throated caracara (Polyborus albogularis) and the white-bridled finch (Melanodera melanodera).
Of similarly significant density is the population of black-chested buzzard-eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus), mainly in the northern area of the Park. The rivers Fitz Roy and De las Vueltas have a large population of torrent ducks, concentrated in permanently resident family groups.
Some species that are hardly ever found in such southern areas have been recorded in some humid areas in the Park, for example the yellow-winged blackbird (Agelaius thilius) and the spectacled tyrant (Hymenops percpicillata).
These species have been observed in the Viedma lake Tunnel bay area, north of the Park, and in the Puerto Bandera "lagoons", within provincial territory on the edge of the Park.
Another species that is present and nests on the shores of lakes and lagoons in the Park is the Magellanic oystercatcher (Haematopus leucipodus).
In the lakes and lagoons around El Calafate, especially Argentino and Viedma, may be found two species of introduced salmonids: the rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus mikiss) and the lake trout (Christivomer namaycush).
Other species that have been recorded are:
Puyen (Galaxias maculatus) in Lake Argentino.
Perca (Perch or Percichthys vinciguerrae) in Lake Argentino and Lake Viedma.
As well as the species that have been confirmed, some others can be assumed to inhabit the surrounding watercourses:
Peladilla (Aplochiton zebra) - it has been recorded in Lake Toro (Torres del Paine National Park, Chile).
Peladilla (Aplochiton taeniatus), also in Lake Toro.
Puyen (Galaxias platei) - it inhabits the lakes of Paine Range.
AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES
The Santa Cruz area, including the district of El Calafate, is considerably depleted as regards its amphibian and reptile populations.
Of the 60 Patagonian species recorded to date, there are 56 in the northern and 13 in the southern area, of which 9 are common to both. However only four are native to the southern area.
Of them all, the commonest are the lizards, that are mainly found in the grasslands far from the shore of the lake in the Punta Avellaneda area.
Puerto Madryn Nature ...
Puerto Madryn is a natural reservoir of different fauna species. Here, and in the different peninsulas, bays and points strewn around its shores, the traveler will thrill to the sight of a southern right whale, an orca, elephant seals or southern sea lions.
In the protected nature reserve of Península Valdés, World Natural Heritage, 100 kilometers away from the city, a tryst with the southern right whale is a once-only experience, and if you're in luck, you will also thrill to the sight of an orca.
Throughout the different excursions you will also meet up with land fauna: guanacos, choiques, maras (Patagonian hares) and Argentine gray foxes, each in its respective habitat. On forbidding trails you will experience the vastness of the steppe, and will have the chance of deepening your knowledge of Patagonian wildlife by taking information tours led by experienced local guides.
SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE
The Nuevo and San José gulfs that surround Península Valdés, are the chosen spots for the southern right whale to give birth to and suckle its young.
These giants take over this portion of the South Atlantic from June to December.
This is when the deep blue waters begin to speckle with black, a sign that the whales have arrived. Be ready to witness an unequaled spectacle for around seven whole months: ocean acrobatics and scenes of tenderness between mothers and their young.
Every year some 600 animals gather here, although the total population of the Península Valdés area is estimated at 1,200.
The southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) was declared Natural Monument by Law N° 23094, and its current population, distributed among all the southern hemisphere temperate and sub-Antarctic seas does not number over 4,000.
It is a cetacean belonging to the sub-order of mysticetae that possesses in lieu of teeth corneous plates known as barbs or balaenae.
Most of them present ventral furrows and dorsal fins, but the right whale lacks both. Its jaw is long and narrow, causing its head to take up almost one quarter of its total body length.
In some areas on its head it shows a cluster of callous-like growths. These are populated by a large number of parasitic crustaceans. At the top of its head there are two "spiracles" (breathing holes) a structure analogous to our nose.
One of the southern right whale's most salient features is the way they expel their breath: when they breathe out, two streams of fine spray form a "V" shape that can be seen for miles around.
It feeds basically on crustacean plankton.
This whale species bears a single calf approximately once every three years. Pregnancy lasts twelve months and the calf is suckled for two years.
When the calves are born they measure between 3 and 5 ½ meters in length and weigh around 3 tons. During the first two months they grow at the rate of 35 millimeters per day, and as adults reach 12 to 16 meters length, weighing between 50 and 55 tons.
The first stage of adulthood is between 7 and 17 years of age. The females reach 13 meters in length when they achieve sexual maturity, the males grow more slowly.
A curious fact about the life of these marine mammals is their feeding habits. They gain weight by feeding on microscopic food that they filter through the barbs lining their mouth. They have no teeth and simply trap the krill and plankton they feed on by forcing sea water through their barbs.
Argentina has protected the right whale since 1935. In 1946 it became a member of the International Whale Committee. In 1994 the 46th meeting of the IWC took place, defining the standards of protection to be enforced in the Southern Sanctuary.
Whale sighting trips
Whale sighting is an unforgettable experience. It consists of a one-hour boat trip taking visitors within meters of these animals.
The trip is only a viewing one. You are not allowed to touch or approach them too closely. In any event, just being afloat with these monsters around you is an impressive experience.
Most of the ships that take visitors on this excursion leave from the small town of Puerto Pirámides.
The adventure starts when you follow the coast in both directions for a few kilometers before heading a few miles into the open water to meet the whales. When the boat is far enough from the shore, the engines are turned off and, for a moment there is absolute silence, punctuated only by the cries of penguins and seagulls.
Sailing along the coast also enables you to view the colonies of cormorants and other species belonging to the abundant avian coastal fauna. The first stop is usually in La Lobería, that is directly opposite Puerto Pirámides, and has a population of 2,000 southern sea lions.
After a few minutes and only a few meters from the coast, you get to the area where the whales are. The boat slowly approaches them and then, suddenly, when everyone in the boat is in a state of eager expectation, a silvery white object leaps out of the water alongside the boat. Then one hears the heavy slap of a body on the sea: the whales are here!
That is when the engine of the boat is turned off so as not to disturb the mammals. For a moment, only nature seems to exist.
The whale slowly approaches, placing its skin at hand's-length. Gradually, as it emerges, one realizes that it is considerably longer than the boat. It is an impressive creature. Now and then it makes a characteristic noise that blends with the sound of the wind on the sea.
The open sky is the only witness to the scene, and the cliffs provide an imposing backdrop.
Whale sighting season on the shores of Puerto Madryn in Chubut province lasts usually from June through December. The best chances of good sightings are in September and October.
The sighting of the southern right whale is a wonderful spectacle that repeats and gets better every year. This boating adventure starts from Puerto Pirámides. There are six firms authorized to do this trip, and these strictly follow the rules that have been established in order not to interfere with the whales' behavior.
Excesses committed both by scuba divers and sighting vessels have prompted Chubut province authorities to strictly regulate sailing and scuba diving activities in the whale season.
The rule is categorical: all activities are forbidden in the protected areas.
Both the fishermen and the scuba divers have to hire authorized operators or guides to carry out their activities. Also, the appearance of a marine mammal in any area where an activity is taking place forces the suspension of the activity.
Coastal diving activity is limited to skin-diving or snorkeling (using only air from one's lungs, without using oxygen tanks), and at a distance of more than 100 meters from any of the protected species.
For sport divers there is also an obligation to register at the Istmo Florentino Ameghino control point. There they are informed of this rule and have to sign a letter of agreement. They must also register in the Navy Prefecture (Coast Guard) office in Puerto Pirámides.
In 1979, the province of Chubut created a 21 hectare reserve in Punta Tombo, 181 kilometers from Puerto Madryn, in order to protect Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus).
Here one finds one of the world's most varied colonies of sea birds, plus the largest continental penguin colony outside the Antarctic. It has a population of over 500,000 birds in the months of September and April.
The penguins build their nests under bushes, in caves and in the open. The caves are found most frequently in the coastal areas where the soil is easier to dig, and they return year after year to the same nesting spots.
The males are sometimes larger than the females and have stronger and longer beaks. Both partners defend their nest, and take turns brooding and feeding the chicks with fish and squid.
Most of their life is spent in the ocean, where they even sleep. In winter they can swim up the coast to Río de Janeiro (Brazil), on a 3,000 kilometer voyage.
They are able to swim steadily at 8 kilometers per hour, using their fins to propel themselves and their feet as rudders. During February thousands of overgrown molting youngsters may be seen on the beach.
Marine predators such as the giant petrel and the killer whale lurk on the shoreline waiting to feed on young and ailing penguins.
ORCA (KILLER WHALES)
Orcas (Orcinus orca) are mammals belonging to the order of the cetaceans. In contrast with other whales, they have teeth. They may be seen in Chubut between February and April and from October to November.
They most frequently appear in Punta Norte, Caleta Valdés and Golfo San José, on the Valdés peninsula.
They are evenly black in color, with a white belly and a characteristic back fin with a white spot behind it that is an individual identification feature.
Their length varies between 8 and 9.5 meters. Males weigh 9 tons and females around 5. They propel themselves using their powerful tailfin, balancing and changing direction with their pectoral fins when feeding along the coastline.
They are wrongly considered to be ravenous predators (so-called "Killer Whales") due to their feeding habits that include not only fish but also other sea mammals such as sea lions, sea turtles, seals, sharks and even penguins.
This creature hunts for food and shares its catch with its family.
SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEALS
Península Valdés offers visitors the chance to view southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) without having to travel to remote island areas, because this is the only continental colony of this species.
The southern elephant seal species has sub-Antarctic distribution, with an estimated population of 700,000 individuals, of which 20,000 arrive at Península Valdés between August and March to mate and molt.
This animal belongs to the seal family, and differs from other pinnipeds due to the absence of the outer ear, and because their lower limbs are pointed backwards, making it necessary for them to drag themselves on land.
The males have a highly developed proboscis (like an elephant's trunk) on their snouts, and are much larger than the females, reaching 5 meters in length and weighing up to 3 or 4 tons. The females only reach about three meters in length and weigh less than one ton.
The pups when born weigh 45 kilos and are pitch black, but become gray after 23 to 30 days of suckling and rapidly gain weight to around 250 or 300 kilos. Elephant seals are extremely polygamous.
By late August, the first males arrive to form their harems. The females arrive on the coast at the beginning of September, giving birth to a pup on average 5 days later.
During lactation the mothers fast and consume their whole store of fat. After they finish suckling their young, elephant seals feed out at sea for two months to regain their weight.
They seek their food at an average depth of 400 meters, and have been known to dive to 1,500 meters while hunting. Elephant seals spend 90% of their seagoing life under water. After December, they return to the coast for five months to molt.
SOUTHERN SEA LION
The southern sea lion (Otaria flevescens) is a species widely distributed on the South American Atlantic and Pacific coastline, from south Brazil up to Perú, and is commonly seen during the whole year on Península Valdés.
This is a pinniped that belongs to the otter family; it is able to walk on land using its front and back fins.
The dark brown males may be distinguished from the females by their mane, reaching 2.3 meters in length and weighing up to 350 kilos. The females only measure 1.8 meters and weigh around 100 kilos.
The pups, that are born from late December to late January, are black in color. They bleat like lambs and weigh around 13 kilos. After a year of suckling, they barely double their weight.
The sea lions have a short migration between the colonies of Golfo Nuevo and Península Valdés. In mating season, the males go to Punta Pirámides, near Puerto Pirámides and Punta Norte. Outside mating season, from April to November, they may be seen at other colony locations.
One of the most important of these is the Punta Loma seal colony (provincial reserve), locate 17 kilometers from Puerto Madryn. The juvenile, non-reproducing adults are found at this colony all year round, and are joined as from April by the animals migrating from Puerto Pirámides.
Península Valdés is one of the main locations on the Patagonian coast featuring abundant and varied sea bird life.
On De los Pájaros Island , with an area of 2.2 hectares, there is a great variety of birds.
Recent research identified six marine and coastal nesting species: the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), the rock cormorant (Phalacrocorax magellanicus), the neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax olivaceus), the kelp gull (Larus dominicanus), the great egret (Casmerodius albus) and the black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax).
The guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is the largest and most widely distributed of the South American camelids. It inhabits one of the planet's most hostile environments: from the hot, windy lands of southern Peru to the semi-arid steppe of Argentine Patagonia.
Before contact with Europeans, some 8 thousand years ago, this animal was a vital resource for the survival of the native cultures that poured into the area.
Images of guanacos are found everywhere in cave paintings and rock engravings.
Currently this species is not endangered on the continent. However, hunting and climate and habitat changes have caused a drop in its population.
This fact has spurred the adoption of integrated conservation programs.
An adult guanaco reaches 1.75 meters in height, and weighs between 80 and 120 kilos. It has pads on its feet that prevent trampling damage to ground vegetation. It has highly mobile and sensitive lips, enabling it to select its food among thorny and woody type vegetation.
Mating season is from November to February, after the young are born. The newborn foals weigh between 8 and 15 kilos. The guanaco is a diurnal animal with unique social behavior.
The family groups vary from 2 to 30 members. Due to its light reddish-brown fur and lighter areas around the lips and inner portion of the limbs, it is one of the easiest species to view on the fauna reserves, especially those of Valdés and Tombo.
Some 600,000 guanacos are thought to inhabit South America. Of this total, 94% is in Argentina, 5% in Chile and the remaining 1% in Peru and Bolivia. The highest densities are currently located in the southern tip of Patagonia.
Recent research indicates that approximately 12,400 guanacos inhabit the northeast of Chubut, with an average population density of around one guanaco per square kilometer. Península Valdés houses some 2,200 animals in 4,000 square kilometers.
LESSER RHEA (CHOIQUE)
The lesser rhea (Pterocnemia pennata) is an enormous bird that one almost always sees along the way on one's walks through Península Valdés. It is one of the two "South American ostriches" with three toes, unlike their African relative, that has two.
The lesser rhea is unmistakable. A good runner on the Patagonian steppe, it reaches 1.10 meters height, and is smaller than the wet pampas variety, the greater rhea (ñandú), with long legs and neck, a small head and without rigid tail and wing feathers.
Its head, neck and back are a dark brownish gray in color. Unlike the greater rhea, it has feathers on the top of its torso. It may be found in groups. They are polygamous, and the male incubates and guards the enormous eggs.
Their nests are built on the ground. There they lay several cream-colored eggs that will later hatch, and the "charitos" (as the chicks are locally called), will follow their father during almost the whole summer. In winter, mixed groups of males, females and juveniles are formed.
ARGENTINE GRAY FOX
The Argentine gray fox (Pseudalopex griseus) is a South American canine species distributed over the herbaceous and bushy steppes of Patagonia outside the Andes. It has long prominent canines, and its molars and pre-molars form the so-called "butcher's knife" , a sharp edge that is used for slicing the meat off its prey.
Although these foxes are carnivorous, they have a wide-ranging diet, and also eat fruit and insects at those times of year when rodents are scarce and they are unable to trap birds.
They weigh no more than 4 kilos and measure 90 centimeters in total length. They have a clearly visible tail that is dark brown on the ventral side and black elsewhere. Their snout is sharp and they have large triangular ears.
Their reproductive season starts in August. Males and females are often seen together only in September and October. After 58 days of pregnancy, in early November they start giving birth to litters of 3 to 5 pups that follow their mothers all summer up to the first months of fall.
On Península Valdés the gray fox is an animal often seen near the wildlife rangers' dwellings. They stay near the rangers because they feel protected by them and get extra rations from them also.
Other species inhabiting Puerto Madryn and Península Valdés are the mara (Patagonian hare), the piche patagónico, the southern crested-caracara (carancho), the upland goose, the elegant crested-tinamou, the rock cormorant, the kelp gull, the snowy egret, the American oystercatcher, the plovers, the dotterels and the southern lapwing.
INFORMATION ON FAUNA VIEWING SEASONS
Viewing seasons are as follows:
Birds, generally: all year round.
Whales: May to December.
Elephant seals: all year round.
Sea lions: all year round.
Penguins: October to March.
Saffron-white tuna: April through December.
Dark dolphins: December through March.
Orcas: January through April and October to December.
Within the land fauna one can view the following all year round:
tinamous, lesser rheas, guanacos, maras and gray foxes.
FAUNA IN SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
San Martin de los Andes Nature ...
As regards the fauna, there are records of 165 autochthonous vertebrates: 102 birds, 11 reptiles, 9 amphibians, 33 mammals and 10 fish.
Among the species present in Lanín National Park, the following are considered to be of "special value":
Among the fish, the exotic salmonids which were sown in the past for sport purposes have pushed out autochthonous fish such as the criolla trout, the Patagonian pejerrey and the puyén.
Perch or criolla trout
Silver or rainbow trout
Stream or fontilanis trout
The pudú can be found in the dense areas of the wood. It is a small deer with reduced antlers and his body is well adapted to move in this environment. Together with the huillín, an otter exclusive of Chile and Argentina, they are two of the mammals in danger of extinction which are protected by this National Park.
The most outstanding species are the pudú, the puma, the red fox, the small gray fox, the wild monkey and several rodent species. Among rodents, the tuco-tuco (Ctenomys maulinus), abundant in Chile, in Argentina is found only in Lanín National Park. The same happens with the degu (Octodon bridgesi), which has only been registered in Argentina in the region of Curruhué.
The huillín, one of the species in danger of extinction, has practically disappeared in the area. The situation of the huemul (deer), also considered in danger of extinction, seems to be quite critical as there are no recent records. However, experts have not completed the search in all the areas potentially suitable for this deer.
The situation of the huiña cat (Felis gigna), an endemic species from the Sub-Antarctic forest which has been classified as vulnerable in the country, is also uncertain.
HUIÑA CAT (Felis gigna)
It has long, dense and slightly woolen hair, with numerous spots closely grouped against a pale reddish-cream background. Some darker or even black specimens have also been found. It is smaller than the regular domestic cat, and it is found only in a limited portion of the Patagonian forest.
PUDU (Pudu pudu)
This species used to be included in the Red Book of Threatened Species, but it no longer is. There are protected communities in the South Park. It is the smallest of all the deer, between 40 and 50 cm tall and 90 cm wide. It is reddish and males differ from females in their small non-branching antlers, which are renewed every year in winter.
The natural habitat of this species is the vegetation of the Andean forest, in particular the valdivian forest.
PUMA (Felis concolor)
This feline species, widely spread all over Argentina, includes seven sub-species. It is gray or brown, small headed, with a long and flexible body, long tail and rounded ears. An adult male can be 1.5 m long and weigh 35 kg. It is found in a wide range of habitats, from forests to open areas. It has mainly night habits and it is purely carnivore, feeding on a great variety of prey.
GUANACO (Lama guanicoe)
This beautiful camel is widely spread throughout South America, in various habitats which include thorny scrubs, steppes, desserts, coastal areas, mountains and hills. It is the tallest land mammal in Argentina. Its hair is long, thick, and ocher, yellowish or cinnamon-colored. It has big eyes, long eyelashes, moving harelips and long pointed ears. It can be 1,85 m long and 1,10 m tall including its withers. It feeds on a great variety of plants.
Argentina is home to 96 % of all the existing guanacos in the world (about 500,000).
HUEMUL (Hippocamelus bisulcus)
This stout deer can be 1 m tall at the withers. Its relatively short legs make it look shorter and fatter than other deer. The male huemul has branching antlers. It has thick coffee-colored hair, which gets lighter in summer becoming yellowish-gray. Its ears and tail are over 20 cm long. It lives in mountainous wooded land and in higher places in the summer.
It is a clearly territorial, herbivore and lonely animal. It is rarely seen in family groups.
WILD MONKEY (Dromiciops australis)
As a matter of fact, there are no real monkeys in these southern woods. The so-called " wild monkey" is actually a marsupial similar to weasels, kangaroos and koala bears. The birth of its cubs takes place at an early stage as their development continues out of the mother's womb, in the marsupial pouch. It is a small weasel, 10 to 12 cm long plus a tail of similar length.
It has dense and soft hair, a pointed muzzle and sharp teeth. It lives in damp woods and remains in the holes of old trees during the winter. It is the only existing representative of the Microbioteridos family
Due to their wide distribution, it is worth mentioning the European hare, the wild boar and the red deer. More recently, the European rabbit and the North American mink have been added and are spreading fast.
Regarding autochthonous birds, there is a wide representation of the Andean Patagonian species. Among the species indigenous to aquatic environments, it is worth mentioning the presence of the torrent duck (Merganetta armata), which is considered "rare" in the country. Other important bird communities are: Magellanic woodpeckers (Campephilus magellanicus), Chilean pigeons (Columba araucana), ochre-flanked tapaculos (Eugralla paradoxa) and condors (Vultur gryphus), among others.
Among reptiles, several species of lizards are very common in the region, such as the green- headed one (Liolaemus chilensis) and the orange-bellied one (Liolaemus pictus), which are distributed all throughout the protected area. Likewise, in the northern area of the Park, the iridescent lizard (Liolaemus tenuis) is found, registered also in Chile and in the center-west Andean region of Neuquén.
As regards native fish, there are the criolla trout or perch, the Patagonian pejerrey, the puyén and the "velvety catfish". Before the creation of the National Park, the main lakes and rivers had been sown -for sport purposes- with exotic species such as the rainbow trout, the brown trout and the stream trout.
In all the river basins there are macro-invertebrates such as freshwater crabs and prawns which play a very important role in these ecosystems.
RED DEER (Cervus elaphus)
It is an exotic species of European origin. Due to its acute smell and hearing, its hunting becomes really difficult. That is why, it is a favorite prey for hunters, who consider males' antlers a valuable trophy. It lives mainly in high mountainous wooded regions.
It has reddish hair and highly branched antlers, which are lost and renewed every year. During the rut, the males' necks look more hairy and swollen, as they get ready to mate with more than one female.
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
It is a wild type of pig of Eurasian origin and introduced in our country. It has grayish-black hair and a long face. Males have outstanding curved tusks. The wild boar forms herds, found both in wooded as well as shallow lands. Due to its survival aptitude, its high reproduction rate and its omnivore eating habits, it is difficult to control the size of its population.
The fauna in the woods presents two characteristic birds: the chucao tapaculo and the black-throated huet-huet. They are walking birds, common in the tangled thickets of colihue cane, where they can be better heard than seen.
Among the typical birds of prey in the area, it is worth mentioning the peregrine falcon, the black-chested buzzard-eagle and the red-backed hawk.
The most picturesque bird within the aquatic fauna is the torrent duck. Swimming against the current in large rivers, it looks for insect grubs and catches them diving skillfully and turning over stones with its beak.
Other ducks found in this area are the Andean ruddy duck and the spectacles duck. In the lakes, one may spot birds such as the huala , the silvery grebe, the crested duck, the flying steamer duck and the red-gartered coot, among others.
BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD EAGLE (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)
It is the biggest bird of prey in the area. Males can be 70 cm long and females 60 cm long.
It can be found as high as 3000 m as it dwells in wide variety of habitats such as wooded prairies, hills or wood borders. It has long and wide wings and a short tail.
Its head and body are leaden gray and its ventral zone is creamy white. The adult has a noticeable gray spot on its chest. It glides a lot, sometimes making circles, and it usually lands on posts or wired fences. It feeds on mammals, reptiles and birds.
BUFF-NECKED IBIS (Theristicus caudatus)
The buff-necked ibis can be identified for its leaden gray back and cinnamon colored neck and head. It is approximately 60 cm long and its beak is curved, thin, long with a yellow tip and a bark base. Its flies in a triangular way. This detail, together with its loud cry, makes it easy to distinguish it when it is flying.
It gets grouped in numerous flocks, meeting at specific places so as to breed. It makes its nest in the same place year after year and in winter it migrates from cold areas to warmer ones.
MAGELLANIC WOODPECKER (Campephilus magellanicus)
It is the biggest woodpecker in South America as it can be 44 cm long. It lives in the Andean woods.
Males have red head and crest and black body, whereas females have black head and crest with a red patch. It feeds on insects and grubs found in the bark of plants and it builds its nest in tree holes. It can walk in all directions due to the disposition of its fingers and its rigid tail which it uses as a wedge.
CHILEAN FLICKER (Colaptes pitius)
This woodpecker, which is smaller than the previous one (29 cm), has modest colors. It has a gray crown and a belly barred with white and black. It is a friendly bird and it is usually found in groups, alighted on branches. It is a typical species of the Araucan wood.
UPLAND GOOSE (Choloephaga picta)
In fall it migrates to the provinces of Buenos Aires and La Pampa.
It nests in prairies, plateaus or valleys, and displays the nest in a small depression in the ground between grasses and bushes, preferably near water.
The male has black head, neck and lower parts with black transverse strips. It is 71 cm long while females are 65 cm long.
It feeds on grass, in general in pasturelands destined for cattle-breeding. It also eats crops, that is why they are considered plagues.
These animals get together in large flocks.
ANDEAN CONDOR (Vultur gryphus)
This magnificent bird is found along the southern mountains in Argentina. It dwells on the higher parts of the mountains and comes down to sea level so as to get food. It is the biggest flying bird in the world and it can be 1,20 m long with a 3 m wide wingspan.
Males are bigger and have a big crest on the head. They are carrion-eating birds, which locate dead animals through their sight. Once they find their food, they usually wait before approaching it, as they have hierarchies according to their age.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Adults have ash-gray plumage on top and white underneath, black crown, black back and black wing cover. During rut, males show long and thin white feathers on the back of their neck.
It is usually seen quiet and silent alighted on some branch hanging over the water or on a river or lake shore, waiting for a fish or frog to goby so that they can catch it, plunging over it.
It is a lonely bird and when it flies at night, it makes a honk similar to the cry of a fox.
RINGED KINGFISHER (Ceryle torquata)
It is 43 cm long and has colorful plumage: grayish-light blue back, untidy crest-like feathers, white collar, brownish-orange chest and white-striped tail. It has a sharp beak that can be 13 cm long and a long tail. It can be seen stealthy, alighted on a branch so as to dive and snatch some fish. Apart from fish, it feeds on batrachians and water insects.
It is a good diver and makes a loud cry, similar to a rattle.
LESSER RHEA OR CHOIQUE (Pterocnemia pennata)
It usually lives in small environments of steppes or bushes. It is slightly over 1 m long and 1.30 tall. It has grayish ocher colored plumage, light chest, and white belly. It has white patches like spots at the end of its feathers. It has a short beak.
In order to distinguish this species there is a very particular feature. Unlike the greater rhea, the thigh feathers go down in a V, before the tarsus down to the knees. It feed mainly on fruit, seeds and griminess although it can also catch small insects.
During rut, males are also territorial and fight against each other. Several females lay numerous eggs in a hole and they cover them with grass and twigs. Males are in charge of incubation.
Batrachians and Reptiles
COWBOY TOAD (Rhinoderma darwinii)
It is probably the amphibian with most peculiar looks and habits in this region. It is hardly 3 cm long and has a triangular head with a pointed appendix that looks like a nose. Color may vary from toad to toad ranging from green to orange. When embryos make their first movements after fertilization, the cowboy toad takes them to the mouth without swallowing them and places them in a specially designed vocal sacs. There, the tadpoles will develop and emerge after three weeks as perfectly formed toads. That is why this toad is also called "midwife toad".
GREEN-HEADED LIZARD (Liolaemus chilensis)
Reptiles are represented by 11 lizard species and 1 snake species. Unlike most amphibians, the majority of the lizard species live in arid places.
Taking the tail into account, it can be 23 am long and tends to hide very fast. It gives a very loud cry when caught, which has originated its Chilean name "Whining Lizard".
FAUNA IN USHUAIA - TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego Nature ...
It has a long and thick tail, it is more than a meter long (including the tail) and weighs between 8 and 13 kilograms. The high commercial price of its fur, and its natural curiosity, have made of this fox an easy prey for man. This species is currently protected.
Rabbit or Hare
Probably introduced in Tierra del Fuego with the arrival of the first Europeans, the rabbit has spread rapidly. It lives mainly in open areas, where the availability of short grass has favored its demographic growth. The caves are interconnected and it has social habits, gathering in small groups during the breeding in coincidence with the season when grass grows.
Introduced in Tierra del Fuego from Canada, this rodent has adapted and spread in a surprising way. It has short, smooth and thick hair, of shiny dark brownish-gray color, with a flaky and thick tail. This species is typical of swamps with aquatic vegetation, but it also lives on the banks of rivers and lakes, and in lower scale, at the seaside. It builds its warren digging and adding vegetation that grows near or in the water and it feeds on vegetation, mainly aquatic plants, tree barks and shrubs that grow near the water.
It was introduced from Canada in 1946 with the aim of marketing its fur. It has a semi-aquatic life and it is known for its skill to build complex warrens and dams. It is a really big animal: the average weight for an adult specimen is 16 kilograms.
These sea mammals belong to the eared sea family and they differ from the elephant seals in that they move using their fore limbs. The young males are gray and as they get older they get a darker color and their characteristic hair grows and becomes abundant.
They can weigh 300 kilograms and grow to two to three meters high. Females are gray or light yellow, this color changes to dark yellow when they get older. They weigh around 160 kilograms and 1 to 1.5 meter long. Although in the mating period they gather in very large colonies, during the sexual rest period they make winter colonies, not too far from their summer destination. The breeding season starts in December, when the big males, called "sultans", reach the beaches waiting for the females to arrive in order to get together in harems.
From the 198 bird species known in Tierra del Fuego, grouped in 44 families, 116 build their nests (migratory residents), 31 are regular visitors: (summer, winter and annual), 7 are of indeterminate seasonal distribution for the region and 2 appear as extinct. From the first two groups, Nest- building species and Regular Visitors are the ones considered for the region is reached and they add up to 147 species.
A sea bird unable to fly. It has a strong body, compact and waterproof plumage, wings turned into rigid flippers and webbed legs in a very back position. It is black-bluish on the back and white on the belly. It has a white face with a black line crossing the throat, like a mask, a black beak and pink legs. It stays on land for long periods of time but only during breeding and shedding seasons. It builds the nest in colonies and lays 1 or 2 eggs.
When over the coast it can be mistaken for the Kelp Gull because of its profile and way of flying. It is different from all the other petrels because of its pale plumage and semicircular gliding in open sea. It is pearled gray on the belly. It has a pinkish beak with a black end and a bluish nasal tube. In winter, large numbers of them often get into Ushuaia Bay through the Beagle Channel.
In summer and fall it may show a white patch on the back, in contrast with the black bluish back. The throat, cheeks and ventral part are white. Its brown beak shows a yellow caruncula over the base; it has a bare brownish face and blue around the eye. Its legs are pinkish. Its truncated-cone shaped nest is built seaweed, mud and excrement.
These South American geese, both male and female, have a similar appearance. The head and the neck are gray. The chest and the back are reddish brown. It has a black tail and a white belly, black beak and orange legs. It feeds on grass and seaweed.
Strong and unable to fly, it often moves forward rapidly, kicking and keeping its balance while flapping its wings. Excellent diver, it feeds on crustaceans and mollusks. It is steel gray, with a white ventral area. It has an orange beak with black end and yellow legs. Male and female are slightly different. The male has a pale head with a post-ocular line. The female has a dark head and neck with bronzed cheeks. Its short wings do not reach the tail.
It has a brown-blackish back and ocher-colored belly. It has a wide and reddish tail with nine black and thin bands and a white end. It is an excellent hunter of small rodents and rabbits.
It flies fast and in straight line. It is an exclusive bird hunter. It is dark gray on the back, ocher-whitish on the ventral area, with black bars and spots. It has a black moustache and crown that contrasts with the white throat. It has a blackish tail.
It is white with a black back. The wings are black on the back, with a white border and they are white internally with black spots that end in a gray band under the wing. It has a yellow beak with a red spot on the lower jaw. The legs are also yellow.
Of diurnal habits, it is usually seen solitary, ready to hunt, with its typical low flying and flapping its wings smoothly. The back is dark brownish gray, with black and ocher spots. The belly is ocher-colored with some brown spots. It has small yellow eyes and a black beak that contrasts with the whitish face.