Birds of BA

Diademed Tanager (Stephanophorus diadematus)


Downtown species
Around 20 species of birds can be commonly seen in downtown. Between them we can cite the Picazuro Pigeon (Patagioenas picazuro), Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata), Picui Ground-Dove (Columbina picui), the very common introduced Rock Dove (Columba livia), the Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris), the Creamy-bellied Thrush (Turdus amaurochalinus), some species of swallows like the Grey-breasted Martin (Progne chalybea) the Brown-chested Martin (Progne tapera), the White-rumped Swallow (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) and Chilean Swallow (Tachycineta leucopyga), also the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus), the common Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis), Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis), the "omnipresent" introduced House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), many species of parrots and parakeets (cited below), and even the Argentine national bird, Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus), and many many others.
The Glittering-bellied Emerald (Chlorostilbon aureoventris), a kind of hummingbird, is also common in every park with flowers of the city (mainly in summer).

male and female of Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) - Photo: Roberto Ares

White-rumped Swallow (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Picazuro Pigeon (Patagioenas picazuro) - Photo: Roberto Ares

In the last few years one species of recently introduced bird has become very abundant in the area: the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). This is a real problem for native species because it competes with them for food and space.

There are some species of birds more likely to be seen in the city center or neighborhoods than on the nature reserves, such as the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), which has made of the tall buildings of downtown Buenos Aires its new habitat. Another surprisingly common bird of prey is the gregarious Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), which can be seen hunting pigeons in couples and even groups. Finally, the most common Argentine raptors, the Southern Crested and Chimango Caracaras (Caracara plancus and Milvago chimango, respectively) are also very common in the city.

Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango) - Photo: Ignacio A. Chantada

The big surprise of Buenos Aires is its high diversity of parrots and parakeets, with around 10 species registered. To say the truth, hardly two of them can be cited as original from these latitudes, and the origin of the rest (although some of them might have come by their own) is related to escaped specimens from captivity and release events. In any case all of them are native to Argentina. Both original and new species have adapted very well to the city’s conditions, and have found sources of food. The extremely common Monk Parakeet (Myopsitta monachus) is one of the original species, and can be easily seen even nesting in their enormous group nests on trees in parks and squares. Of the new residents, four interesting species can be watched on a walking tour: White-eyed Parakeet (Aratinga leucophtalma), Black-hooded Parakeet (Nandayus nenday), which is now almost as common as the Monk Parakeet in some areas of the city; the Reddish-bellied Parakeet (Pyrrhura frontalis) and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet (Brotogeris chiriri). They all have different behaviors and can be recognized even without seen them, because of their particular voices and sounds.

Monk Parakeet (Myopsitta monachus) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Yellow-chevroned Parakeet (Brotogeris chiriri) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

Black-hooded Parakeet (Nandayus nenday) - Photo: Ignacio A. Chantada

Blue-fronted Amazon (Amazona aestiva) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

White-eyed Parakeet (Aratinga leucophtalma) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

Reddish-bellied Parakeet (Pyrrhura frontalis) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

White-eyed Parakeet and Reddish-bellied Parakeet are more frequent in parks and streets than in the reserves. And the Canary-winged Parakeet is more common on the sub-urban surrounding area of Buenos Aires and some parks inside of the city, where its frequently seen feeding on the seeds of the Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba speciosa), called “Palo Borracho” in Spanish, whose original habitat (north-east Argentina) constitutes the same of the parakeet's.

Species restricted to particular habitats

Using the same division made before on the different native natural habitats of Buenos Aires, following are some of the most common and remarkable species of the area, by habitat:

Checkered Woodpecker (Veniliornis mixtus) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

- Riverside & Espinal forests
These two native forest ecosystems of the region are home for many interesting species. Many of them share both habitats, and some have adapted to the new landscape, living even in exotic-tree constituted forests (or plantations). But some of them are very restricted to their native ecosystems, and can not be found anywhere else.

White-barred Piculet (Picumnus cirratus), recently found in Costanera Sur - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

The Riverside forest is the most biodiverse habitat in Buenos Aires province. Thus, this also applies to birds. Here the White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi) is very common, although is more easy to hear its singing than to see it. Two species of hummingbirds are more likely to see in this kind of habitat than in others: the White-throated Hummingbird (Leucochloris albicollis) and the Gilded Sapphire (Hylocharis chrysura). There is a long list of passerines (sparrow-like birds), been the most remarkable species the Sooty-fronted Spinetail (Synallaxis frontalis), Rufous-capped Antshrike (Thamnophilus ruficapillus), Variable Antshrike (Thamnophilus caerulescens), White-winged Becard (Pachyramphus polychopterus), Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus), Green-winged Saltator (Saltator similis) and more.

Female of White-lined Tanager (Tachyphonus rufus) - Photo: Ignacio A. Chantada

There are many interesting tiny passerines in this forest, like the Bran-colored Flycatcher (Myiophobus fasciatus), the Mottled-cheeked Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes ventralis), the Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus), the colorful Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi) and the Masked Yellowthroat (Geothlypis aequinoctialis).

Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Other colorful species are the Rufous-browed Peppershrike (Cyclarhis gujanensis), Sayaca Tanager (Thraupis sayaca), Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata), Ultramarine Grosbeak (Cyanocompsa brissonii), Indigo Grosbeak (Cyanoloxia glaucocaerulea) and one of the most beautiful birds of the area: the Diademed Tanager (Stephanophorus diadematus). Also two remarkable birds of this ecosystem are the common Epaulet Oriole (Icterus cayanensis) and the outstanding Solitary Black Cacique (Cacicus solitarius), which is less common than the other species, but it can still be found even nesting in its large and pending nest.

Juvenile of Indigo Grosbeak (Cyanoloxia glaucocaerulea) - Photo: Ignacio A. Chantada

The Espinal forest influence adds some remarkable species to the list although – as said before – most of their range of distribution includes other habitats (even in Buenos Aires area). The Checkered Woodpecker (Veniliornis mixtus), the Freckle-breasted Thornbird (Phacellodomus striaticollis), the very common Masked Gnatcatcher (Polioptila dumicola) and White-crested Tyrannulet (Serpophaga subcristata), the White-lined Tanager (Tachyphonus rufus), the Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava), the colorful Blue-and-Yellow Tanager (Thraupis bonariensis), the Golden-billed Saltator (Saltator aurantiirostris) and the conspicuous Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata).

Juvenile of Golden-billed Saltator (Saltator aurantiirostris) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

- Marshes, water streams and lagoons
In the marshes and lagoons of the area, depending on the water level (which depends on the rain that has fallen during the year) many species of aquatic birds can be easily watched: more than 15 species of ducks and relatives live and even (not all of them) breed here.

Red-gartered Coot (Fulica armillata) with its chick - Photo: Roberto Ares

The two South American swans, Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) –although it is closer to guise than to real swans– and Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus); Southern Wigeon (Anas sibilatrix); White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata); Silver Teal (Anas versicolor); Brazilian Duck (Amazonetta brasiliensis) and Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys) are just a few examples of this group of birds. Coots and Gallinules are as common as most of the ducks named before, been Red-gartered Coot (Fulica armillata), White-winged Coot (Fulica leucoptera), Red-fronted Coot (Fulica rufifrons), Common Gallinule (Gallinula chloropus) and Spot-flanked Gallinule (Gallinula melanops), the most frequent species in the area. Egrets and herons are abundant too, been the White-necked Heron (Ardea cocoi), Great Egret (Ardea alba), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) and Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) the most common species. The Rufescent Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum) is not as common as the other herons but is the most remarkable species.

Spot-flanked Gallinule (Gallinula melanops) - Photo: Marcelo Gavensky

Other common aquatic birds are the ibises like the Bare-faced Ibis (Phimosus infuscatus) and White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi); the Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) and some Grebes, such as the White-tufted Grebe (Rollandia rolland) and the Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps).

Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) - Photo: Roberto Ares

A special mention deserves three species of aquatic birds very likely to be seen on a tour to the nature reserves of the city: the Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), the Giant Wood-Rail (Aramides ypecaha) and the Grey-necked Wood Rail (Aramides cajanea). The late species is associated very much to the marginal forest.

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) - Photo: Roberto Ares

There is one species of bird of prey highly specialized and depending strongly on the marsh ecosystem: the Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis). This bird feeds almost solely on water snails, using its hook-like beak to take the soft part of the snail out of the shell.

Snail Kite (Rosthramus sociabilis) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Three species of kingfishers inhabits the rivers and water streams of the area: the Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata), Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana) and Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona). The last species is the least common.

Female of Masked Yellowthroat (Geothlypis aequinoctialis) - Photo: Roberto Ares

The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some passerines strongly related to the marshes, which are: Wren-like Rushbird (Phleocryptes melanops), Sulphur-bearded Spinetail (Cranioleuca sulphurifera), Yellow-throated Spinetail (Certhiaxis cinnamomea), the Many-colored Rush-Tyrant (Tachuris rubrigastra) and the Warbling Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx flaviventris). These species sole habitat is the reed on lagoons, marshes and other aquatic ecosystems. Other passerines related to this kind of environments are the Spectacled Tyrant (Hymenops perspicillatus), the Sooty Tyrannulet (Serpophaga nigricans) and the blackbirds: Chestnut-capped Blackbird (Agelaius ruficapillus), Yellow-winged Blackbird (Agelaius thilius), the Brown-and-Yellow Marshbird (Pseudoleistes virescens) and the declining Scarlet-headed Blackbird (Amblyramphus holosericeus).

Sooty Tyrannulet (Serpophaga nigricans) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Scarlet-headed Blackbird (Amblyramphus holosericeus)

A different ecosystem, although very related in its bird fauna, is the coast of the Río de la Plata, which is the best place to see some aquatic species such as the Neotropic Cormorant (already named before) and the Great Grebe (Podiceps major), Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), Gray-hooded Gull (Larus cirrocephalus), Brown-hooded Gull (Larus maculipennis) and the Snowy-crowned Tern (Sterna trudeaui).

Great Grebe (Podiceps major) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Snowy-crowned Tern (Sterna trudeaui) - Photo: Roberto Ares

- The Pampas grassland

This ecosystem shares many of the birds present in the others, but there are some species not findable anywhere else. In Buenos Aires most of these species are passerines (although some of the best representatives of the pampas are non-passerines, like the Greater Rhea and a couple of species of tinamous, which are extinct in the area of the city). Among the non passerines there are two species of falcons, the Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) – not common in the city reserves – and the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), the Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira) and two species of woodpeckers: the Field Flicker (Colaptes campestris) and the Green-barred Woodpecker (Colaptes melanochloros).

Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana) - Photo: Ignacio A. Chantada

Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) - Photo: Ignacio A. Chantada

The list of passerines is long, being the most remarkable the Firewood-Gatherer (Anumbius annumbi), the Hudson’s Canastero (Asthenes hudsoni), the Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa), named after its habit of being around the cattle or even on it; some summer visitors like the Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana), the colorful Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus), the Double-collared Seedeater (Sporophila caerulescens) and the Rusty-collared Seedeater (Sporophila collaris); the Grassland Yellow-Finch (Sicalis luteola), the Saffron Yellow-Finch (Sicalis flaveola), the Hooded Siskin (Carduelis magellanica) and some blackbirds like the Screaming Cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris), the Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis), the Bay-winged Cowbird (Agelaioides badius) and the White-browed Blackbird (Sturnella superciliaris).

male of Double-collared Seedeater (Sporophila caerulescens) - Photo: Roberto Ares

Great Pampa-finch (Embernagra platensis) - Photo: Roberto Ares