Paraguay Birding and Wildlife Adventure: Amazing Birds and Wildlife of the Chaco
Paraguay Birding and Wildlife Adventure: Amazing Birds and Wildlife of the Chaco
Although Paraguay is one of the less-frequently visited countries in South America, more adventurous wildlife travelers will certainly find that it has a very exciting array of birds, mammals and other wildlife on offer. Paraguay can in fact be seen as one of the last bastions for a number of rare and threatened bird species, many of which are difficult to find outside of this compact landlocked country. Partly because of its small size (it is slightly smaller than California), Paraguay has a relatively modest 724 bird species (IOC taxonomy, as of July 2021) and no country endemics. But this is compensated for by the sheer quality of the bird and mammal species; Paraguay is the easiest place to see a number of birds including many superb Chaco species as well as range-restricted Atlantic Forest denizens. Paraguay offers outstanding birding and wildlife viewing opportunities. and we are very excited to present this tour to you.
Chaco Owl from our 2022 tour – Paraguay is arguably the most reliable place to find this species
Crested Gallito is one of the targets of this Paraguay birding and wildlife adventure (photo Oscar Rodriguez).
During this birding tour of Paraguay, we spend quite a lot of time exploring the vast Chaco habitat; Paraguay holds the largest intact tracts of this unique and threatened, uniquely South American, habitat. Not only is the Chaco habitat particularly large in Paraguay, but it is also really diverse here and contains Chaco ecotones such as the Dry and Humid Chaco, as well as the transition zone between the two. This diversity equates to a large number of Chaco-adapted bird species, making Paraguay the perfect destination to target all of the Chaco specials. These Chaco specials include some fascinating species such as Black-legged Seriema, Crested Gallito, Spot-winged Falconet, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Chaco Owl, and Chaco Eagle.
Strange-tailed Tyrant, one of the five incredible-looking, long-tailed ‘New World’ flycatchers which are all possible on this tour (photo Oscar Rodriguez).
During our eleven days in Paraguay, we will focus on finding all of the Chaco specials, and will also spend time exploring remnant patches of Atlantic Forest, such as those found in the Mbaracayú Reserve. In this forest reserve we will look for the rare Helmeted Woodpecker (one of the rarest woodpeckers on the planet!) together with another woodpecker gem, the aptly named Robust Woodpecker. Paraguay is indeed an amazing country for woodpeckers (with many species possible on this tour), as well as a good assortment of tinamous and all five spectacular, long-tailed, ‘New World’ flycatchers: Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Strange-tailed Tyrant, and Cock-tailed Tyrant.
The extensive forest trails at Mbaracayú include such classic Atlantic Forest species as Eared Pygmy Tyrant, Bare-throated Bellbird, Rufous-capped Motmot, Sharpbill, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Surucua Trogon, Saffron Toucanet, Spot-billed Toucanet, Green-billed Toucan, Scaled Pigeon, Riverbank Warbler, Blue Manakin, Rufous Gnateater, and if we are lucky, the rare Black-fronted Piping Guan.
Another highlight of this Paraguay birding and wildlife tour will be searching for the rare and Vulnerable (IUCN) White-winged Nightjar, one of the world’s rarest members of the Caprimulgidae (nightjar) family.
Finally, the wetlands and other water bodies along the mighty Paraguay River will provide a great selection of aquatic species including Jabiru, Roseate Spoonbill, Southern Screamer, Coscoroba Swan, Ringed Teal, White-winged Coot, Rosy-billed Pochard, and South American Snipe. The adjoining grassy vegetation holding secretive species such as Rufous-sided Crake, Ash-throated Crake, Stripe-backed Bittern and the recently described (2016) Iberá Seedeater (although IOC does not yet recognize this taxon). Our Paraguay tour is timed to coincide with the passing of a great selection of migrant seedeaters and we hope to encounter several interesting ones on our trip.
Paraguay is not only about the birding though, and it is one of the best places to view a number of rarely seen and elusive South American mammals. In fact, as a wildlife viewing destination, it is probably only surpassed by the Brazilian Pantanal! While out in the field, we will be on the lookout for unusual animals and will also partake in a few nocturnal drives where we have better chances of finding certain elusive species. Some of the more exciting mammals we stand a chance of finding on this trip include Chacoan Peccary, Lowland Tapir, Crab-eating Fox, Pampas Fox, Capybara, Chacoan Mara, Coypu, the elusive Giant Anteater, and rare felines such as Puma, Jaguar, Jaguarundi and Geoffroy’s Cat.
The Paraguayan Chaco is probably the best place on Earth to see the elusive Geoffroy’s Cat (photo John Sterling).
Our 11-day Paraguay birding and wildlife tour will be a quick taste of the biodiversity of this interesting country. We would however like to iterate that this tour is not for everybody and is quite different from most of our Birding Ecotours birding holidays. As such, we would encourage you to read the ‘Important Information’ tab above, before deciding if this tour is for you.
This Paraguayan tour can be combined with our Bolivia Birding Tour which follows immediately after Paraguay. On our Bolivia tour we will target a number of loud and brightly colored parrots such as Blue-throated, Red-fronted and Blue-and-yellow Macaws as well as other specials like Titicaca Grebe, Red-tailed Comet, and Cochabamba Mountain Finch.
Itinerary (11 days/ 10 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Asunción
You will arrive in Asunción and will be met at the airport by your tour leader and other Birding Ecotours representatives. You will then be transferred to the hotel, and if time permits, we might visit the wetlands and shores of the Bahía Asunción where we can make an early start on our bird list. Here we can find Black-bellied and White-faced Whistling Ducks, Brazilian Teal, Collared Plover, Southern Lapwing, Large-billed Tern, Wattled Jacana, Snail Kite, Ringed Kingfisher, Crested Caracara, Wood Stork, and Cocoi Heron. At this time of the year, we could also encounter migrant shorebirds such as Upland Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs.
We may find our first mammals of the trip too, perhaps Black-and-gold Howler Monkeys or Capybaras.
Overnight: Bourbon Convention Hotel, Asunción
Day 2. Asunción, Humid Chaco, Laguna Capitán and Loma de Plata
We will have an early start for our first morning in Paraguay, as we leave Asunción and cross the Paraguay River to head into the Humid Chaco area. Our birding will mostly be focused around a livestock ranch (that has Important Bird Area – IBA – status) which offers us the incredible opportunity of racking up over 100 bird species in just a few short hours. The area also holds an assortment of wonderful mammals and reptiles which we may be lucky enough to bump into. Many of the birds we are likely to see here are Chaco endemics with some of them threatened, mostly due to habitat loss. We will target a long list of species including the likes of Greater Rhea, Red-legged Seriema, Chaco Chachalaca, Plumbeous and Buff-necked Ibises, Giant Wood Rail, Blue-crowned Trogon, Toco Toucan, White-barred Piculet, Campo Flicker, Green-barred, Golden-green, Little, Crimson-crested and Cream-backed Woodpeckers, Laughing Falcon, Nanday, Maroon-bellied and Blue-crowned Parakeet, Turquoise-fronted Amazon and Scaly-headed Parrot. In addition to the above specials, we may also find Great Rufous and Planalto Woodcreepers, Red-billed Scythebill, Tawny-crowned Pygmy Tyrant, Bearded Tachuri, White-bellied, Tawny-bellied and Rusty-collared Seedeaters, Black-capped Warbling Finch, Masked Gnatcatcher, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Golden-winged Cacique and many others. The biodiversity of the Humid Chaco is truly amazing! After about three hours of bird watching, depending on the bird activity, we will continue on our way westwards.
We will then enjoy lunch in a restaurant well known for its tasty empanadas, while en route to the region of Loma Plata. In the afternoon we will visit the Laguna Capitan Reserve. This is a great birding site and will impress us by both the variety and quality of bird species on offer, which will likely include a couple of new Chaco target species. Some of the species we are likely to find here include Ringed Teal, White-winged Coot, Southern Screamer, Rosy-billed Pochard, Stripe-backed Antbird, Checkered Woodpecker, White-fronted Woodpecker, Crested Hornero, Lark-like Brushrunner, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant and if we are lucky, our first Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper. We will arrive at our hotel in the early evening to grab dinner and celebrate a great day in Paraguay.
Overnight: Loma de Plata Inn
The impressive and appropriately named Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper (photo Oscar Rodriguez).
Day 3. Loma de Plata, Chaco Lodge and Iparoma Ranch
Our Dry Chaco birding begins today! We will spend the day in the saline lakes in the transition zone between the Humid and Dry Chaco as well as in the Dry Chaco woodlands. To cap the day off we will make a nighttime excursion to target nocturnal birds such as Great Horned Owl, Tropical Screech Owl, Scissor-tailed and Little Nightjars, Pauraque and mammals such as Pampas Fox, Yellow Armadillo, Crab-eating Fox and the elusive Geoffroy’s Cat.
Today, we hope to find the ‘Big five’ Chaco specials which include the rare Black-bodied Woodpecker, the most-wanted Black-legged Seriema, the elusive Spot-winged Falconet, the secretive Crested Gallito, and the nocturnal Chaco Owl. In addition, we should find birds such as Brushland Tinamou, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Cream-backed Woodpecker, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Chaco Earthcreeper, Crested Hornero, Dinelli’s Doradito, Cinereous Tyrant, Many-colored Chaco Finch, Black-capped Warbling Finch and the recently split (2021) Chaco Sparrow. Additionally, there is an important variety of species which occur in high densities in the Paraguayan Chaco, which are difficult to observe in other parts of South America. Other important targets in the Chaco here include the likes of Great and Bolivian Slaty Antshrikes, Black-bellied Antwren, Black-crested Finch, and with luck the rare and majestic Chaco Eagle. We may also have encounters with Golden-collared Macaw, Black-backed Grosbeak, Swainson’s and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Yellow-billed Cardinal, and Vermilion Flycatcher.
Overnight: Iparoma Ranch
Day 4. Iparoma Ranch and Teniente Enciso National Park
The morning will be spent around Iparamo Ranch chasing down any specials we may still be missing before we make our way towards Teniente Enciso National Park where we will explore the depths of the Chaco, maximizing our efforts to see as many birds and wildlife as possible. The Teniente Enciso National Park offers chances of seeing Jaguar, and although far from guaranteed, it is one of the few places on earth to potentially observe this formidable predator in Dry Chaco habitat, rather than in the lush tropical forest and floodplains of the Pantanal. Other wildlife possibilities include Yellow Armadillo, Puma, Lesser Grison (the South American equivalent of the African Honey Badger and one of the rarest creatures of the ‘New World’).
While in Teniente Enciso National Park, there will be many Chaco specials to try and clean up on, including scarce species such as the imposing Chaco Eagle and the secretive Spotted Nothura (the Chaco subspecies here). We will also hopefully find Olive-crowned Crescentchest (here a potential split, as Chaco Crescentchest), Brown Cacholote, Stripe-crowned, Chotoy, and Sooty-fronted Spinetails, Straneck’s Tyrannulet, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Chaco Puffbird, Short-billed Canastero, Grassland Sparrow, White-naped Xenopsaris, Southern Scrub Flycatcher, Rufous Casiornis, Ringed Warbling Finch, Small-billed, Undulated and Tataupa Tinamous and of course, Black-legged Seriema.
Overnight: Hotel Aeropuerto, Mariscal Estigarribia
Yellow Armadillo photographed in the Chaco (photo John Sterling).
Day 5. Teniente Enciso National Park and Fortin Toledo Reserve to Neuland
After breakfast we will head to the Fortin Toledo Reserve where the large and incredibly rare Chacoan Peccary has been re-introduced into the wild. Despite the large size of this Chaco-adapted pig, it was only discovered in the Paraguayan Chaco as recently as 1976! We will have the chance to make a brief visit to the peccary breeding center where researchers are trying to bolster numbers of this Endangered (IUCN) and little-known species. The day will also be spent birding the Chaco here in search of specials such as Quebracho Crested and Brushland Tinamous and Black-legged Seriema.
Overnight: Hotel Boquerón, Neuland
Days 6. Neuland and Selva Serena Private Reserve
This will be our final day birding the Chaco as we explore the nearby Selva Serena Private Reserve. While in the reserve we will target any missing Chaco specials such as Black-bodied Woodpecker, with this being one of the best places for this impressive woodpecker.
Overnight: Hotel Boquerón, Neuland
The most-wanted Black-legged Seriema can be seen on our Paraguay tours.
Day 7. Neuland to Santa Rosa Del Aguaray
Today will probably be the hardest day of the trip with a seven-hour drive to Santa Rosa del Aguaray. We will however make a few stops along the way, such as a lunch break in Concepción. If we are not too tired from the long drive, we can stop at Rio Verde Forest Reserve to have our first birding in the Cerrado habitat. Here we will look for Cerrado specials and can have our first attempt at the Vulnerable (IUCN) and nocturnal White-winged Nightjar as well as the crepuscular Giant Snipe. If we manage to find White-winged Nightjar on this particular day, it will give us much more flexibility later on in the trip, during our stay in the Mbaracayú Reserve.
Overnight: Hotel Cristal, Santa Rosa Del Aguaray
Day 8. Santa Rosa Del Aguaray to Mbaracayú Reserve
We will leave early for the Rio Verde Forest Reserve and will begin targeting a number of Cerrado specials such as Cock-tailed Tyrant, Shrike-like Tanager, and Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, among others. We will have lunch in Santa Rosa Aguaray and will then proceed to Mbaracayú Reserve.
We will make the drive in the heat of the early afternoon, so as to maximize our time in the Mbaracayú Reserve. Some of the interesting species of this trans-frontier reserve (shared with Brazil) include Spot-billed Toucanet, Bare-throated Bellbird, Surucua Trogon, the ultra-rare Helmeted Woodpecker, the attractive Blond-crested Woodpecker, Blue Manakin, Saffron Toucanet, Green-billed Toucan, Buff-bellied Hermit, Sharpbill, Plush-crested Jay, Spot-backed, Tufted, as well as Large-tailed, Great and Rufous-winged Antshrikes. Other possible species include Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher, Rufous Gnateater and with luck, Black-fronted Piping Guan.
Tonight we can make a nocturnal excursion (you can opt out if preferred) in search of Black-capped Screech Owl and Rusty-barred Owl.
Overnight: Mbaracayú Lodge
Helmeted Woodpecker is a big target during our visit to the Atlantic Forest at the Mbaracayú Reserve (photo Oscar Rodriguez).
Day 9. Full day at Mbaracayú Reserve, including White-winged Nightjar
Today will be a long day out in the field and will include another early start as we head to the center of the reserve, to a place known as Lagunita and will walk the trail along the Moroti Stream. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in the reserve and then move to the Cerrado area of Aguara Nu, where we will be birding for the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening. The afternoon’s birding here should hopefully produce Collared Crescentchest, Bearded Tachuri, Dinelli’s and Crested Doradito, Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, White-rumped Monjita, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Streamer-tailed, Long-tailed, and Cock-tailed Tyrants, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Black-masked Finch, Red Pileated Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch, Wedge-tailed and Lesser Grass Finch, Buffy-fronted, Temminck’s, Plumbeous, Rusty-collared, White-bellied, Copper, Tawny-bellied, Rufous–rumped, Dark-throated, Marsh, and Chestnut Seedeaters. Many of the seedeater species here are intertropical migrants and are only present during their passage through Paraguay, between September and March.
The area is one of the most reliable places on earth to look for the Vulnerable (IUCN) White-winged Nightjar, one of the star targets of the trip. Other nocturnal species may include Giant Snipe, Little, Scissor-tailed, Rufous and Silky-tailed Nightjars and Ocellated Poorwill.
Overnight: Mbaracayú Lodge
Day 10. Mbaracayú Reserve to Asunción
We will spend the morning in the Mbaracayú Reserve looking for any Atlantic Forest specials we may still be missing, such as the most-wanted Robust Woodpecker. We will then leave the reserve after lunch and head to Asunción. On our way to the city, we will make our last stop at the Arroyos y Esteros area IBA, hoping for an assortment of water bird species as well as some rare and unusual flycatchers. The biggest target bird here is the incredible-looking Strange-tailed Tyrant. Other species might include Maguari Stork, White-faced and Bare-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Tawny-headed and White-rumped Swallow, and Brown-chested Martin.
Between October and November many migrant seedeaters may be seen passing through the area including Chestnut, Dark-throated, Marsh, Rufous-rumped and Tawny-bellied and Double-collared Seedeaters. The always-handsome White-headed Marsh Tyrant, can often be seen here, as well as Sooty Flycatcher, White Monjita and Fork-tailed Flycatcher. There is the possibility of skulking rallids in the marshy vegetation including Ash-throated Crake and Rufous-sided Crake and if we are lucky, we may find the tough-to-see Stripe-backed Bittern, while South American Snipe is much easier to find here. Additionally, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Long-winged Harrier, White-browed Blackbird, and Scarlet-headed Blackbird are relatively easy to find in the area. We will then reach Asunción and our hotel for the last night of the tour, where we will enjoy our final dinner and say goodbye to our Paraguayan staff.
Overnight: Bourbon Convention Hotel, Asunción
Day 11. Transfer to Asunción airport and flights home
In the morning we will be transferred to the airport to catch our flights home, or to catch our flights to nearby Bolivia to join our Bolivia Birding Tour where we can find endemics such as Blue-throated and Red-fronted Macaws, Cliff Parakeet, and Black-hooded Sunbeam as well as beauties like Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Red-tailed Comet, Cochabamba Mountain Finch and Titicaca Grebe.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.Download Itinerary
Paraguay Birding and Wildlife Adventure Trip Report, October 2022
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25 OCTOBER – 04 NOVEMBER 2022
Chaco Owl,one of the many targets of our tour.
Paraguay, while often overlooked by travelers due to its remoteness, offers birders a richly unique wildlife experience. Recent improvements to infrastructure and transport in the country, a growing number of local birders, and newly created private nature reserves have made previously unexplored birding hotspots accessible. For these reasons, Paraguay has seen an increasing number of adventurous travelers and birders visiting this remote South American country.
Birding in Paraguay offers a unique opportunity to explore several habitats that can only be found in southern South America, including the Great Chaco, comprising transitional habitats like humid Chaco and seasonally flooded Chaco, as well as grassland areas which is a particular drawcard for avid bird listers. We also encounter expansive areas of Cerrado habitat, which is typical of this part of the continent. The Cerrado is an ancient relict of the far western Atlantic Forest of South America and comprises temperate grasslands. The rich diversity of habitats that Paraguay has to offer affords birders an increased chance of finding elusive birds that are often missed in neighboring countries. 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. In addition to avian diversity, the Great Chaco is one of the best places to see wildlife in South America which together with the Brazilian Pantanal, offers birders the chance to see and photograph a unique set of mammals including several of South America’s Big Five. A further enticing feature of Paraguay is the absence of large groups of other tourists adding to the feeling of a truly wild and remote adventure which will appeal to the more adventurous birder.
Despite my previous scouting trip a few years ago, this was the first official Birding Ecotours tour to Paraguay. It was a short tour which ran for 11 days, with nine full days of birding. We covered a significant distance from Asunción all the way to the Teniente Enciso National Park, which included exploring the Chaco and all its transitional habitats. We then returned to Asunción after visiting the Mbaracayú Reserve which added some Atlantic Forest species to our list. We succeeded in finding several species on our target list including some of the most iconic species of the continent. This was especially exciting for the birding beginners and those on the tour who were new to neotropical birding. We also had some great encounters with animals which added further diversity to the trip. We endured heat, long drives and early starts to ensure we maximized our chances of seeing our target birds. Although we had to drive long distances, we were impressed by the many great new roads in the country. Perhaps the biggest inconvenience was the early starts and late ends to the day, further compounded by the fact that in Paraguay, as well as in Argentina and Spain, it is customary for people to have late dinners. Interestingly, what some travelers considered dinner time aligned with the optimal period for observing nocturnal birds and wildlife in Paraguay.
During our nine days of birding, we managed to see some stunning birds including Chaco Owl, Black-capped Screech Owl, Greater Rhea, Southern Screamer, Red-legged and Black-legged Seriemas, Brushland Tinamou, Spotted Nothura, Rufous Nightjar, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Strange-tailed Tyrant, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Stripe-backed Antbird, Robust Woodpecker, Ochre-collared Piculet, Blue Manakin, King Vulture, Jabiru, Rufous-capped Motmot, Spot-billed Toucanet, Toco Toucan, Pheasant Cuckoo, Plumbeous Ibis, Ringed Teal, Surucua Trogon and Buff-bellied Puffbird. Early morning and night drives resulted in great views of Giant Anteater, Pampas Fox, Crab-eating Raccoon, Southern Three-banded Armadillo and several Lowland Tapirs. Furthermore, we had glimpses of Ocelot and Geoffroy’s Cat and we found fresh Jaguar and Puma tracks all over the Teniente Enciso National Park.
Buff-bellied Puffbird was one of the many standout species on this Paraguay birding tour.
This is a trip I would highly recommend not only for adventurous birders and listers, but also for wildlife and nature lovers in general.
Day 1, 25th October 2022. Arrival in Asunción and botanical garden birding
The group arrived in Asunción on different flights, with most of us arriving a couple of days earlier than our official start date. We decided to do some birding that afternoon in the Asunción Botanical Park where we recorded the first species of the trip. These included Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Green-barred Woodpecker, Greenish and Large Elaenias, Plush-crested Jay, Red-crested Cardinal, Sayaca Tanager, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Monk and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets, Cobalt-rumped Parrotlet (split from Blue-winged Parrotlet) and our first Guira Cuckoo. We also saw some aquatic species including Rufescent Tiger Heron, Anhinga and Wattled Jacana.Interestingly,the name Sayaca (of the above tanager) comes from the Tupí Amerindian (Brazilian) name sayacu for a type of finch, while similarly the name Güira (of the above cuckoo) comes from the Guarani Paraguayan name güirá which means bird.
We later met in our comfortable hotel at the Bourbon Conmebol Convention Center. This was once the infamous Latin American headquarters of the FIFA football association that was involved in a case of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering which involved the FBI back in 2015 and was big news worldwide especially in South America. Despite this, our accommodation was extremely comfortable and the views of the illuminated football fields adjacent to us were nice. After supper, we went to sleep and were well-rested for the next day’s intensive birding.
Day 2, 26th October 2022. Birding humid Chaco, transfer to Loma de Plata
Even though most of the roads in Paraguay have improved in recent years, we still needed 4×4 vehicles to drive through the Chaco. On this particular trip with only five participants, we had two 4×4 vehicles to provide each participant with their own window seat to view the Paraguayan countryside. Our first stop took us into the humid Chaco where we had many iconic birds from southern South America such as Greater Rhea and Southern Screamer. These were followed by Brazilian Teal, Wood Stork, Cocoi and Striated Herons and the attractive-looking Whistling Heron. We then added a few water- and wetland-associated species such as Snail Kite, Black-collared Hawk, Black-backed Water Tyrant, the stunning Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Giant Wood Rail, Limpkin, and lots of Wattled Jacanas.
Greater Rhea, a classic southern South American species, seen on our Paraguay birding tour.
Exploring drier areas resulted in great views of Cream-backed Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Nanday Parakeet, Red-billed Scythebill, Rufous Hornero, Greater Thornbird, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, White Monjita, Rufous Casiornis, Crowned Slaty Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Plush-crested Jay, Solitary Cacique, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Masked Gnatcatcher, Chestnut-capped Blackbird, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Red Pileated Finch, Pampa Finch, Double-collared and Rusty-collared Seedeaters.
The bizarre-looking Red-billed Scythebill.
An exciting moment happened when we saw the elusive Pheasant Cuckoo fly in front of us. Even though our views were brief and might not have been ideal for photographers (as the bird remained concealed in the bush), we were still pleased to get scope views of this rare species.
Other birds seen before we left our first stop included Blue-crowned Parakeet (here of the nominate race acuticaudatus), Golden-green Woodpecker, Crested Caracara, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, the uncommon Tawny-headed Swallow, Picui Ground Dove, and Zone-tailed Hawk which is always a pleasure to see. The name Nanday comes from the Guarani Amerindian (Paraguayan) name ñendáy for the Black-hooded Conure, known today as Nanday Parakeet while the name Picui (of the above dove) comes from the Guarani name picúi for a small dove.
Near midday, we stopped at our stakeout to look for the sought-after Strange-tailed Tyrant. The day turned windy which was not a good sign. Oscar, our local guide and driver of one of the vehicles, took us to a place where we scanned the grasslands for the tyrant. It didn’t take long until we spotted a male, which although distant, provided great scope views. At the same spot, we added Plumbeous and Buff-necked Ibises, Maguari Stork, Cattle Tyrant, White-rumped Swallow and Tawny-bellied Seedeater.
It was great to find the sought-after Strange-tailed Tyrant (photo Oscar Rodriguez).
We then continued our long drive to Loma de Plata and as the day was ending, we arrived at some freshwater ponds. This stop added Giant Wood Rail, Collared Plover, Pectoral, and Solitary Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Greyish Baywing, Great Kiskadee, Great Pampa Finch, Plain Inezia, Black-backed Water Tyrant, our first Crested Hornero and included great views of White and Checkered Woodpeckers.
We arrived at Loma de Plata to check in at our hotel, ending the day on a positive note as we anticipated the exciting experiences that awaited us in the Chaco the following morning.
Day 3, 27th October 2022. Loma de Plata, Laguna Capitan to Iparoma Ranch
We started the day birding the surroundings of Loma de Plata on our way to Iparoma Ranch. Our first sightings of the day included species such as White-tailed Hawk, a classic Buteo from the savannas and Cerrado, White-browed Blackbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Many-colored Chaco Finch, and Golden-billed Saltator. Laguna Capitan and its surroundings produced great birds including our first Spotted Nothura, here of the race chacoensis, which some authorities suggest may be a different species, Chaco Nothura. We also had Picazuro Pigeon, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Great Antshrike, White-barred Piculet, White-fronted Woodpecker, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Chaco Puffbird, Short-billed Canastero, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Straneck’s Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Cinereous Tyrant, Black-capped Warbling Finch, Variable Oriole, Chivi Vireo, Barred Antshrike, the incredible Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, and one of the highlights of the trip was getting unreal, super, and ripper views of the elusive Stripe-backed Antbird. I have previously seen this species skulking in thick Chaco and Chiquitania forest in Bolivia and Paraguay, but never as close as on this occasion, giving us an amazing performance.
At a nearby lake we saw Coscoroba Swan, Brazilian Teal, Roseate Spoonbill, Southern Lapwing, Jabiru, and Large-billed Tern. In the surroundings of the lake we found Great Horned Owl at a daytime roost and also saw our first Ferruginous Pygmy Owl of the trip.
The feisty Ferruginous Pygmy Owl was seen near Loma de Plata.
In the afternoon we birded near Boqueron where we had Chaco Chachalaca, Picui Ground Dove, Picazuro Pigeon, White-fronted, White, Golden-green and Green-barred Woodpeckers, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Crested Hornero, Lark-like Brushrunner, Little Thornbird, Stripe-crowned and Chotoy Spinetails, White-winged Becard, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Suiriri Flycatcher, White Monjita, Spectacled Tyrant, Many-colored Chaco Finch, Giant Wood Rail, White-tipped Dove and Sick’s Swift. Here we had our first encounter with the Chacoan Mara, a medium- to large-sized rodent, which together with the Patagonian Mara, is endemic to southern South America. These rabbit-like rodents are members of the Caviidae family which includes an assortment of rodents from the smaller guinea pigs to the large Capybara. Picazuro (of the abovementioned pigeon) comes from the Guarani name picazuró, which means sour pigeon, from the taste of its flesh after it has eaten certain fruits. Sick’s Swift is named after Helmut Sick (1910 – 1991), the German ornithologist, collector and author who visited Brazil.
We arrived at Iparoma Ranch before dusk where we managed to find the nocturnal Azara’s Night Monkey in the lodge vicinity. During our supper Oscar alerted us to the presence of a couple Chaco Owls – we were extremely happy to find this highly desirable owl species.After dinner at the end of a long day, only a couple of the participants decided to join Oscar and I on the night drive in the Iparoma Ranch vicinity. We drove for an hour and were amazed to find Crab-eating Raccoon, Lowland Tapir, and had glimpses of Ocelot. We also had views of the secretive Geoffroy’s Cat,proving that the haciendas in the Chaco is the best place in the world to see this small and secretive cat.
Day 4, 28th October 2022. Iparoma Ranch to Teniente Enciso National Park
Today we left Iparoma and birded in the general area which produced species we had previously seen such as Masked Gnatcatcher, Chaco Puffbird, White-barred Piculet, White and White-fronted Woodpeckers, Monk and Blue-crowned Parakeets, Crested Hornero, Swainson’s and Brown-crested Flycatchers, White-browed Blackbird, Screaming Cowbird, Chaco Chachalaca and Spotted Nothura.
We began the long journey to Mariscal Estigarribia, which is the closest town to Teniente Enciso National Park with suitable accommodation. Bearing in mind the long distances ahead, we decided to stop at a fuel station and to replenish our supplies. This freed us up to skip supper and to not have to return in a rush as this park offers good opportunities for some of our target species and mammals, including large cats. By doing this we took advantage of the best time for birds and wildlife which is in the afternoon.
We arrived at the park where we were greeted by the local park guard who escorted us along the trails of the thick and dense national park. It was still hot by 4 p.m. and although there was not much bird activity, we saw a few classic species such as Chaco Chachalaca, Picazuro Pigeon, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Brown Cacholote, and Monk Parakeet. We also added new species such as Laughing Falcon, Harris’s Hawk, American Kestrel, Turquoise-fronted Amazon and Sick’s Swift. We found fresh Puma tracks and some day-old Jaguar tracks. Amazingly, a Six-banded Armadillo appearedon the trail as it had beenscared by the group. Alarmed by the noise, it ran straight at me as I stood at the end of the line and came to a halt right at my feet.
Black-legged Seriema at Teniente Enciso National Park.
Despite these great sightings we remained focused on our main target, the highly desirable Black-legged Seriema. According to the park guard, two of these birds were heard that very morning, between the entrance and the first few meters of the trail. We looked for ages until we found one of the two individuals from this morning and it was a great moment for everyone.
We waited until dusk, and while driving, we all got great views of American Barn Owl and Tropical Screech Owl. Once we left the park and drove along the dirt road, we found Little Nightjar. Mammal sightings included Crab-eating Fox, Lowland Tapir (two individuals) and the uncommon and seldom-seen Southern Three-banded Armadillo.
Day 5, 29th October 2022. Fortin Toledo and transfer to Neuland
We explored the Fortin Toledo area early in the morning where we tried for the elusive Crested Gallito.Unfortunately, no matter how hard we tried, the bird did not cooperate and would not show itself for the group, however the guides got glimpses of it through the thick, thorny bush. Despite this, we had other good encounters to make up for our dip such as Brushland Tinamou, Great Black and Roadside Hawks, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Crested Hornero, Lark-like Brushrunner, Southern Scrub Flycatcher, Large and Small-billed Elaenia, and Turquoise-fronted Amazon.
We then made a quick visit to the rehabilitation and breeding center of the endangered Chacoan Peccary. Here, we managed to see some animals in captivity, including Collared Peccary. Unfortunately, we never managed to encounter any of the rare Chacoan Peccaries in the wild. Interestingly, this species was discovered in 1930 and was believed to be extinct up until 1970 when it was found to exclusively inhabit the Chaco of Paraguay, extreme southeastern Bolivia and north-central Argentina.
We continued to try for Crested Gallito, and made our first attempt at finding the rare Black-bodied Woodpecker, but we unfortunately could not find any of these targets. We did however manage to find White-bellied Nothura, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Streaked Flycatcher, Plush-crested Jay, and White-tipped Dove. It was quite hot and the birding was quiet, so we decided to continue with the drive, in order to give participants a break from the heat. We then visited Neuland Museum where we had the chance to see examples of Paraguayan fauna, and good didactic maps to explain the geography of the Chaco and Paraguay. This was helpful to better understand the distribution of the fauna in the country. We also had an introduction to the history of the Mennonites who had established themselves in Paraguay over a century ago. This turned out to be more interesting and emotional than we anticipated, with the Mennonite speaker doing a wonderful job at immersing us in the local history.
We returned to the hotel in Neuland to get ready for an afternoon of birding back in the woods. Although we had seen these species previously on the trip, exploring before dusk produced species such as Golden-billed Saltator, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, White-fronted and Cream-backed Woodpeckers, Vermilion Flycatcher, Large Elaenia, Crowned Slaty Flycatcher, Plush-crested Jay, Red-crested Cardinal, and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and White-tailed Hawk and a Dark-billed Cuckoo. After this we visited some freshwater springs in the Chaco, where crepuscular wildlife often come to drink. As well as increasing our chances of great animal viewing, this also provided an opportunity for nightbirds, including Scissor-tailed Nightjar. We sat on the edge of the ponds and waited quietly. After a while, we had our first sighting of a couple of Pampas Foxes, which gave us brilliant views. The foxes came relatively close until they detected us, but gave us excellent views before they left. This species isonly found in southern South Americaand was a lifer foreveryone. At the same time we got the Scissor-tailed Nightjar (female) and we heard Common Potoo and Tropical Screech Owl. We could have waited for the male Scissor-tailed Nightjar, but we decided to leave a bit earlier. Watching wildlife and birds requires patience, especially when waiting in stakeouts, hides and ponds of water, and particularly in an environment like the Chaco.
Just before we left, we had an interesting and unusual experience when we spotted a Red-tailed Boa on the road.We stopped the car to move it away from the road to prevent it from being run over. This is especially important based on the high numbers of roadkill in Paraguay and because many locals do not like snakes. The snake was startled by our attempts to move it and crawled under our vehicle and into the engine, so we had to work together to remove it. As the removal looked like it might take a while, I decided to send people who could not wait with Chris to the hotel in one of the vehicles. Eventually we succeeded and returned the snake to the bush, back where it belonged. Once we had returned to the hotel, we toasted the boa’s rescue with a cold beer.
Oscar and Eduardo removing the Red-tailed Boa from the vehicle.
Day 6, 30th October 2022. Birding the Chaco
This morning we had an early start to be in the bush at first light. This rewarded us with an excellent view of a Giant Anteater, one of the Big Five of South America. After this sighting we started looking for the Black-bodied Woodpecker, one of the rarest birds in South America, and a major target for the trip. We looked for it at several strategic spots, but we didn’t get any response from the bird. Although we were in the right habitat, and searched in the right type of old trees, the bird did not respond. Only a week later, Oscar managed to find and photograph an adult in the same spot that we had tried, perhaps this later sighting could perhaps be explained by the nesting behavior of this particular pair.
The star of the day, and highlight for several participants, was the beautiful Olive-crowned Crescentchest which showed amazingly well for everybody. Other birds found this morning included species such as Plain Inezia, Chaco Earthcreeper, Fulvous-crowned Scrub Tyrant, (a recent split from Tawny-crowned Pygmy Tyrant), Crested Hornero, Many-colored Chaco Finch, Black-capped Warbling Finch, Narrow-billed and Great Rufous Woodcreeper, White-fronted, Checkered and Cream-backed Woodpeckers, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Turquoise-fronted Amazon, and some of the group managed to get glimpses of the elusive Crested Gallito.
Our Paraguay birding tour was great for woodpeckers including this Cream-backed
This was our last morning in this amazing and unique, but poorly understood ecosystem. We left the Chaco with mixed feelings: gratitude for the experience, but also longing for the birds we had not seen, in particular, Black-bodied Woodpecker and Quebrancho Crested Tinamou. It was sad and shocking to see the extent of the habitat destruction in the Chaco, as a result of charcoal production and other factors, which makes the task of finding Chaco specials even trickier.
We started driving out of the Chaco towards Santa Rosa de Aguaray, and en route we located an ideal spot for the handsome Red-legged Seriema, which showed well for us. It was awesome being able to see both of the world’s two species of seriemas in a single trip – another bird family ticked off.
Red-legged Seriema was seen well on our trip.
Day 7, 31st October 2022. Transfer to Santa Rosa del Aguaray
Today we experienced one of the longest days of the trip as we drove from the Chaco towards Santa Rosa del Aguaray, the nearest town with access to Cerrado habitat. Along the drive, we made strategic stops for better photographic opportunities of birds which we had seen previously.
Day 8, 1st November 2022. Rio Verde Forest Reserve and transfer to the Mbaracayú Reserve
We left Santa Rosa del Aguaray and drove towards the Rio Verde Forest Reserve which contains some nice Cerrado habitat, and here we tried to see as many specials as possible. We soon found Burrowing Owl, White Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Peach-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-bellied and Lesser Elaenias and an Aplomado Falcon. We continued driving deep into the Cerrado when I suddenly stopped the vehicle as I spotted a Common Potoo roosting which I thought could provide good photo opportunities. We didn’t waste much time and soon found Grassland Sparrow, Black-throated Saltator, Curl-crested Jay, Wedge-tailed Grass Finch, Blue-black Grassquit, and Rusty-collared Seedeater. The birding continued nicely until we finally got two Cerrado targets, White-rumped Tanager and Shrike-like Tanager (which is also known as White-banded Tanager).
We next had Savanna Hawk and our first Hook-billed Kite, withmuch excitement when we found the beautiful Cock-tailed Tyrant (male) which displayed nicely for us, as well as the other highly prized Tyranidae (New World flycatcher), the pretty Streamer-tailed Tyrant, with all our targets showing well for us here. However, soon the temperature started to heat up quickly and the birding activity slowed down, so we decided to head out and started our drive to the Mbaracayú Reserve near the Brazilian border. We arrived in the late afternoon with a whole new set of birds waiting for us.
Burrowing Owl is always a crowd-favorite.
Day 9, 2nd November 2022. Birding Mbaracayú Reserve
Today we had a full day to explore the impressive Mbaracayú Reserve. This 64,505-hectare reserve, protects two main ecosystems; Atlantic Forest and the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest. These forests were originally inhabited by two ethnic groups, the Guaraní and the Aché (the latter of which has a population of fewer than 2,000 individuals). Some families inhabit the borders of the reserve and are a real anthropological treasure, providing endless cultural knowledge and a deep understanding of the forest. We didn’t have much time and we started birding the trails and the lodge’s clearings, finding species such as Scaled Pigeon, Blue Ground Dove, Surucua Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot, Blue Manakin, Scaly-headed Parrot, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Spot-backed Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Crested Becard, and Southern Antpipit. Grey-hooded Flycatcher did not respond for us, but after some extra work and with a different strategy, Chris and I managed to see this forest skulker. In addition, we saw Sibilant Sirystes, Squirrel Cuckoo, Boat-billed, Piratic, Variegated and Social Flycatchers, Purple-throated and Violaceous Euphonias, Thrush-like Wren, Pale-breasted Thrush, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Plush-crested Jay, Red-rumped Cacique, Magpie Tanager, and Chestnut-vented Conebill.
In the afternoon we heard the bad news that the recent rains in the reserve had completely washed away the wooden bridge that connects the main reserve road with the Cerrado habitat behind the reserve. This unfortunately meant that our chances for the White-winged Nightjar, one of our main targets and a Vulnerable species, were also washed away. Although this was the main disappointment of the trip, there was nothing we could do about it, as accessing the site was literally impossible.
Despite the disappointment, we birded the reserve finding White-throated Woodcreeper, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Band-tailed Manakin, Black-crowned and Masked Tityra, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Grey-headed, Plumbeous, and Swallow-tailed Kites and Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle. The elusive Spotted Wood Quail was heard distantly.
After dark we tried for some night birds and were rewarded with incredible views of Rufous Nightjar, Pauraque, Short-tailed Nighthawk, American Barn Owl and Black-capped Screech Owl.
Maroon-bellied Parakeet is always a pleasure to see in the Atlantic Forest.
Day 10, 3rd November 2022. Mbaracayú, Arroyos y Esteros and transfer to Asunción
Early in the morning we started birding the lodge clearing finding Surucua Trogon, Spot-billed Toucanet, Ochre-collared Piculet, Turquoise-fronted Amazon, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Toco Toucan, King Vulture, Chopi Blackbird, Buff-bellied Puffbird and then total madness hit when Chris spotted the highly desirable Robust Woodpecker. It was great finding all these bird species in a single day and especially in just one morning. The only two species that evaded us here were Helmeted Woodpecker and White Bellbird. The name Surucua Trogon (Trogon surrucura) comes from the Guaraní name surucúa which refers to a trogon or similarly sized bird.
We then started the long drive back towards Asunción. We sadly arrived late at the Arroyos y Esteros Reserve outside Asunción and even though it was possible to stay a little longer, some participants were keen to return to the hotel, so we only spent a short time birding these wetlands. Although there was not enough time for the Ibera Seedeater, which we were hoping for, we instead got views of Southern Screamer, White-faced Ibis, Greater Ani, Maguari Stork, Snail Kite, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-capped Donacobius, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Brown-chested Martin, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Rusty-collared Seedeater, Amazon Kingfisher, Striped Cuckoo, and Brazilian Teal among the other usual suspects.
We then entered Asunción and after dealing with the traffic, we arrived at our hotel. It was great to be back, have our last supper as a group, work on the checklist and get some well-deserved rest. We then said goodbye to some of the participants that were leaving early the following morning, with most of the group only leaving after breakfast.
Day 11, 4th November 2022. Transfer to the airport and departure
I spent most of the day in Asunción ensuring everyone was picked up at the airport and transferred to the hotel to catch their connecting international flights home. The trip was an amazing experience indeed. I really enjoyed Paraguay and it would be a pleasure to guide there again soon. Despite some long drives and the lack of home comforts, the facilities are reasonable to allow us to enjoy the real bush of South America. The Chaco is truly a place where anything is possible, especially at dawn and dusk, adding to the magic of Paraguay as a unique birding destination.
Bird List – Following IOC (13.1)
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Greater Rhea||Rhea americana|
|Brushland Tinamou||Nothoprocta cinerascens|
|White-bellied Nothura||Nothura boraquira|
|Spotted Nothura||Nothura maculosa|
|Southern Screamer||Chauna torquata|
|Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)|
|Black-bellied Whistling Duck||Dendrocygna autumnalis|
|Coscoroba Swan||Coscoroba coscoroba|
|Brazilian Teal||Amazonetta brasiliensis|
|Ringed Teal||Callonetta leucophrys|
|Chachalacas, Curassows, Guans (Cracidae)|
|Chaco Chachalaca||Ortalis canicollis|
|Short-tailed Nighthawk||Lurocalis semitorquatus|
|Little Nightjar||Setopagis parvula|
|Scissor-tailed Nightjar||Hydropsalis torquata|
|Rufous Nightjar||Antrostomus rufus|
|Common Potoo||Nyctibius griseus|
|Grey-rumped Swift||Chaetura cinereiventris|
|Sick’s Swift||Chaetura meridionalis|
|Blue-tufted Starthroat||Heliomaster furcifer|
|Glittering-bellied Emerald||Chlorostilbon lucidus|
|Guira Cuckoo||Guira guira|
|Greater Ani||Crotophaga major|
|Smooth-billed Ani||Crotophaga ani|
|Striped Cuckoo||Tapera naevia|
|Pheasant Cuckoo||Dromococcyx phasianellus|
|Squirrel Cuckoo||Piaya cayana|
|Dark-billed Cuckoo||Coccyzus melacoryphus|
|Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)|
|Scaled Pigeon||Patagioenas speciosa|
|Picazuro Pigeon||Patagioenas picazuro|
|Ruddy Ground Dove||Columbina talpacoti|
|Picui Ground Dove||Columbina picui|
|Blue Ground Dove||Claravis pretiosa|
|White-tipped Dove||Leptotila verreauxi|
|Eared Dove||Zenaida auriculata|
|Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)|
|Giant Wood Rail||Aramides ypecaha|
|Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)|
|White-backed Stilt||Himantopus melanurus|
|Southern Lapwing||Vanellus chilensis|
|Collared Plover||Charadrius collaris|
|Wattled Jacana||Jacana jacana|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Buff-breasted Sandpiper||Calidris subruficollis|
|Pectoral Sandpiper||Calidris melanotos|
|Spotted Sandpiper||Actitis macularius|
|Solitary Sandpiper||Tringa solitaria|
|Lesser Yellowlegs||Tringa flavipes|
|Greater Yellowlegs||Tringa melanoleuca|
|Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)|
|Large-billed Tern||Phaetusa simplex|
|Wood Stork||Mycteria americana|
|Maguari Stork||Ciconia maguari|
|Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)|
|Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)|
|Neotropic Cormorant||Nannopterum brasilianum|
|Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)|
|Plumbeous Ibis||Theristicus caerulescens|
|Buff-necked Ibis||Theristicus caudatus|
|Bare-faced Ibis||Phimosus infuscatus|
|White-faced Ibis||Plegadis chihi|
|Roseate Spoonbill||Platalea ajaja|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Rufescent Tiger Heron||Tigrisoma lineatum|
|Striated Heron||Butorides striata|
|Western Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis|
|Cocoi Heron||Ardea cocoi|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba|
|Whistling Heron||Syrigma sibilatrix|
|New World Vultures (Cathartidae)|
|King Vulture||Sarcoramphus papa|
|Black Vulture||Coragyps atratus|
|Turkey Vulture||Cathartes aura|
|Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture||Cathartes burrovianus|
|Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)|
|Grey-headed Kite||Leptodon cayanensis|
|Hook-billed Kite||Chondrohierax uncinatus|
|Swallow-tailed Kite||Elanoides forficatus|
|Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle||Spizaetus melanoleucus|
|Long-winged Harrier||Circus buffoni|
|Plumbeous Kite||Ictinia plumbea|
|Black-collared Hawk||Busarellus nigricollis|
|Snail Kite||Rostrhamus sociabilis|
|Savanna Hawk||Buteogallus meridionalis|
|Great Black Hawk||Buteogallus urubitinga|
|Roadside Hawk||Rupornis magnirostris|
|Harris’s Hawk||Parabuteo unicinctus|
|White-tailed Hawk||Geranoaetus albicaudatus|
|Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle||Geranoaetus melanoleucus|
|Zone-tailed Hawk||Buteo albonotatus|
|Barn Owls (Tytonidae)|
|American Barn Owl||Tyto furcata|
|Burrowing Owl||Athene cunicularia|
|Ferruginous Pygmy Owl||Glaucidium brasilianum|
|Great Horned Owl||Bubo virginianus|
|Tropical Screech Owl||Megascops choliba|
|Black-capped Screech Owl||Megascops atricapilla|
|Chaco Owl||Strix chacoensis|
|Surucua Trogon||Trogon surrucura|
|Amazon Kingfisher||Chloroceryle amazona|
|Rufous-capped Motmot||Baryphthengus ruficapillus|
|Buff-bellied Puffbird||Notharchus swainsoni|
|Caatinga Puffbird||Nystalus maculatus|
|Spot-billed Toucanet||Selenidera maculirostris|
|Toco Toucan||Ramphastos toco|
|White-barred Piculet||Picumnus cirratus|
|Ochre-collared Piculet||Picumnus temminckii|
|White Woodpecker||Melanerpes candidus|
|White-fronted Woodpecker||Melanerpes cactorum|
|Checkered Woodpecker||Veniliornis mixtus|
|Golden-green Woodpecker||Piculus chrysochloros|
|Green-barred Woodpecker||Colaptes melanochloros|
|Campo Flicker||Colaptes campestris|
|Robust Woodpecker||Campephilus robustus|
|Cream-backed Woodpecker||Campephilus leucopogon|
|Red-legged Seriema||Cariama cristata|
|Black-legged Seriema||Chunga burmeisteri|
|Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)|
|Crested Caracara||Caracara plancus|
|Yellow-headed Caracara||Milvago chimachima|
|Laughing Falcon||Herpetotheres cachinnans|
|American Kestrel||Falco sparverius|
|Aplomado Falcon||Falco femoralis|
|African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)|
|Monk Parakeet||Myiopsitta monachus|
|Yellow-chevroned Parakeet||Brotogeris chiriri|
|Scaly-headed Parrot||Pionus maximiliani|
|Turquoise-fronted Amazon||Amazona aestiva|
|Cobalt-rumped Parrotlet||Forpus xanthopterygius|
|Maroon-bellied Parakeet||Pyrrhura frontalis|
|Peach-fronted Parakeet||Eupsittula aurea|
|Nanday Parakeet||Aratinga nenday|
|Blue-crowned Parakeet||Thectocercus acuticaudatus|
|White-eyed Parakeet||Psittacara leucophthalmus|
|White-throated Woodcreeper||Xiphocolaptes albicollis|
|Great Rufous Woodcreeper||Xiphocolaptes major|
|Red-billed Scythebill||Campylorhamphus trochilirostris|
|Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper||Drymornis bridgesii|
|Narrow-billed Woodcreeper||Lepidocolaptes angustirostris|
|Chaco Earthcreeper||Tarphonomus certhioides|
|Rufous Hornero||Furnarius rufus|
|Crested Hornero||Furnarius cristatus|
|Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner||Dendroma rufa|
|Little Thornbird||Phacellodomus sibilatrix|
|Greater Thornbird||Phacellodomus ruber|
|Lark-like Brushrunner||Coryphistera alaudina|
|Short-billed Canastero||Asthenes baeri|
|Stripe-crowned Spinetail||Cranioleuca pyrrhophia|
|Brown Cacholote||Pseudoseisura lophotes|
|Yellow-chinned Spinetail||Certhiaxis cinnamomeus|
|Chotoy Spinetail||Schoeniophylax phryganophilus|
|Sooty-fronted Spinetail||Synallaxis frontalis|
|Stripe-backed Antbird||Myrmorchilus strigilatus|
|Plain Antvireo||Dysithamnus mentalis|
|Barred Antshrike||Thamnophilus doliatus|
|Great Antshrike||Taraba major|
|Spot-backed Antshrike||Hypoedaleus guttatus|
|White-shouldered Fire-eye||Pyriglena leucoptera|
|Crested Gallito||Rhinocrypta lanceolata|
|Olive-crowned Crescentchest||Melanopareia maximiliani|
|Tyrant Flycatchers, Calyptura (Tyrannidae)|
|Grey Elaenia||Myiopagis caniceps|
|Greenish Elaenia||Myiopagis viridicata|
|Yellow-bellied Elaenia||Elaenia flavogaster|
|Large Elaenia||Elaenia spectabilis|
|Small-billed Elaenia||Elaenia parvirostris|
|Lesser Elaenia||Elaenia chiriquensis|
|Southern Beardless Tyrannulet||Camptostoma obsoletum|
|Suiriri Flycatcher||Suiriri suiriri|
|White-crested Tyrannulet||Serpophaga subcristata|
|Straneck’s Tyrannulet||Serpophaga griseicapilla|
|Southern Antpipit||Corythopis delalandi|
|Fulvous-crowned Scrub Tyrant||Euscarthmus meloryphus|
|Greater Wagtail-Tyrant||Stigmatura budytoides|
|Grey-hooded Flycatcher||Mionectes rufiventris|
|Southern Scrub Flycatcher||Sublegatus modestus|
|Plain Inezia||Inezia inornata|
|Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant||Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer|
|Vermilion Flycatcher||Pyrocephalus obscurus|
|Spectacled Tyrant||Hymenops perspicillatus|
|Cinereous Tyrant||Knipolegus striaticeps|
|White Monjita||Xolmis irupero|
|Grey Monjita||Nengetus cinereus|
|Streamer-tailed Tyrant||Gubernetes yetapa|
|Black-backed Water Tyrant||Fluvicola albiventer|
|Cock-tailed Tyrant – VU||Alectrurus tricolor|
|Strange-tailed Tyrant – VU||Alectrurus risora|
|Cattle Tyrant||Machetornis rixosa|
|Piratic Flycatcher||Legatus leucophaius|
|Social Flycatcher||Myiozetetes similis|
|Great Kiskadee||Pitangus sulphuratus|
|Streaked Flycatcher||Myiodynastes maculatus|
|Boat-billed Flycatcher||Megarynchus pitangua|
|Variegated Flycatcher||Empidonomus varius|
|Crowned Slaty Flycatcher||Griseotyrannus aurantioatrocristatus|
|Tropical Kingbird||Tyrannus melancholicus|
|Fork-tailed Flycatcher||Tyrannus savana|
|Sibilant Sirystes||Sirystes sibilator|
|Rufous Casiornis||Casiornis rufus|
|Swainson’s Flycatcher||Myiarchus swainsoni|
|Brown-crested Flycatcher||Myiarchus tyrannulus|
|Blue Manakin||Chiroxiphia caudata|
|White-bearded Manakin||Manacus manacus|
|Band-tailed Manakin||Pipra fasciicauda|
|Tityras, Becards, Sharpbill (Tityridae)|
|Black-crowned Tityra||Tityra inquisitor|
|Masked Tityra||Tityra semifasciata|
|Chestnut-crowned Becard||Pachyramphus castaneus|
|Crested Becard||Pachyramphus validus|
|Vireos, Greenlets, (Vireonidae)|
|Rufous-browed Peppershrike||Cyclarhis gujanensis|
|Chivi Vireo||Vireo chivi|
|Crows, Jays (Corvidae)|
|Purplish Jay||Cyanocorax cyanomelas|
|Curl-crested Jay||Cyanocorax cristatellus|
|Plush-crested Jay||Cyanocorax chrysops|
|Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)|
|Sand Martin||Riparia riparia|
|White-rumped Swallow||Tachycineta leucorrhoa|
|Tawny-headed Swallow||Alopochelidon fucata|
|Brown-chested Martin||Progne tapera|
|Grey-breasted Martin||Progne chalybea|
|Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobiidae)|
|Black-capped Donacobius||Donacobius atricapilla|
|Thrush-like Wren||Campylorhynchus turdinus|
|House Wren||Troglodytes aedon|
|Masked Gnatcatcher||Polioptila dumicola|
|Mockingbirds, Thrashers (Mimidae)|
|Chalk-browed Mockingbird||Mimus saturninus|
|Creamy-bellied Thrush||Turdus amaurochalinus|
|Pale-breasted Thrush||Turdus leucomelas|
|Rufous-bellied Thrush||Turdus rufiventris|
|Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)|
|Hooded Siskin||Spinus magellanicus|
|Blue-naped Chlorophonia||Chlorophonia cyanea|
|Purple-throated Euphonia||Euphonia chlorotica|
|Violaceous Euphonia||Euphonia violacea|
|New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)|
|Grassland Sparrow||Ammodramus humeralis|
|Oropendolas, Orioles, Blackbirds (Icteridae)|
|White-browed Blackbird||Leistes superciliaris|
|Solitary Cacique||Cacicus solitarius|
|Red-rumped Cacique||Cacicus haemorrhous|
|Variable Oriole||Icterus pyrrhopterus|
|Screaming Cowbird||Molothrus rufoaxillaris|
|Shiny Cowbird||Molothrus bonariensis|
|Scarlet-headed Blackbird||Amblyramphus holosericeus|
|Chopi Blackbird||Gnorimopsar chopi|
|Greyish Baywing||Agelaioides badius|
|Chestnut-capped Blackbird||Chrysomus ruficapillus|
|Yellow-rumped Marshbird||Pseudoleistes guirahuro|
|Cardinals & Allies (Cardinalidae)|
|Ultramarine Grosbeak||Cyanoloxia brissonii|
|Tanagers & Allies (Thraupidae)|
|Pampa Finch||Embernagra platensis|
|Wedge-tailed Grass Finch||Emberizoides herbicola|
|Many-colored Chaco Finch||Saltatricula multicolor|
|Black-throated Saltator||Saltatricula atricollis|
|Bluish-grey Saltator||Saltator coerulescens|
|Golden-billed Saltator||Saltator aurantiirostris|
|Blue-black Grassquit||Volatinia jacarina|
|Red Pileated Finch||Coryphospingus cucullatus|
|Double-collared Seedeater||Sporophila caerulescens|
|Chestnut-bellied Seed Finch||Sporophila angolensis|
|Rusty-collared Seedeater||Sporophila collaris|
|Tawny-bellied Seedeater||Sporophila hypoxantha|
|White-rumped Tanager||Cypsnagra hirundinacea|
|Black-capped Warbling Finch||Microspingus melanoleucus|
|Chestnut-vented Conebill||Conirostrum speciosum|
|Saffron Finch||Sicalis flaveola|
|Shrike-like Tanager||Neothraupis fasciata|
|Magpie Tanager||Cissopis leverianus|
|Red-crested Cardinal||Paroaria coronata|
|Yellow-billed Cardinal||Paroaria capitata|
|Sayaca Tanager||Thraupis sayaca|
|Burnished-buff Tanager||Stilpnia cayana|
|Common name||Scientific name|
|Guinea pigs and cavies (Caviidae)|
|Chacoan Mara||Pediolagus salinicola|
|Brazilian Guinea Pig||Cavia aperea|
|Six-banded Armadillo||Euphractus sexcinctus|
|Southern Three-banded Armadillo||Tolypeutes matacus|
|Giant Anteater||Myrmecophaga tridactyla|
|Raccoons and allies (Procyonidae)|
|Crab-eating Raccoon||Procyon cancrivorus|
|Crab-eating Fox||Cerdocyon thous|
|Pampas Fox||Lycalopex gymnocercus|
|Geoffroy’s Cat||Leopardus geoffroyi|
|Lowland Tapir||Tapirus terrestris|
|Brown Brocket||Mazama gouazoubira|
|Night Monkeys (Aotidae)|
|Azara’s Night Monkey||Aotus azarae|
|Common name||Scientific name|
|Black-and-white Tegu||Salvator merianae|
|Red Tegu||Salvator rufescens|
|Alligators and caimans (Alligatoridae)|
|Red-tailed Boa||Boa constrictor|
|Cope’s Mabuya (Chaco Skink)||Notomabuya frenata|
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PARAGUAY: AMAZING BIRDS AND WILDLIFE OF THE CHACO TOUR-SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Although Paraguay has a relatively modest country list of 742 bird species, it is the quality of birds and other wildlife that makes this small (the size of the US state of California), landlocked country so appealing to adventurous wildlife travelers. Perhaps one of the least visited countries in South America, Paraguay has a great deal to offer intrepid birders who are willing to explore the remote wilderness of the Chaco and the Atlantic Forest. On this tour we will look for some of the continent’s rarest birds such as Robust Woodpecker, Helmeted Woodpecker, White-winged Nightjar, Vinaceous-breasted Amazon, and Saffron-cowled Blackbird. Additionally, we stand a good chance of tracking down all the Chaco bird endemics and could find high quality wildlife species such as Geoffroy’s Cat, Jaguarundi, and Chacoan Peccary.
This tour will begin and end in Paraguay’s capital city, Asunción, at the Internacional Silvio Pettirossi Airport (ASU) which can be reached by direct flights from the US, Spain, Panama, Brazil, and several other Latin American countries. You might wish to consult your travel agent to book your most convenient flight (and contact us if you need any guidance). Please e-mail us before you book any flights, as the information shown here is just an initial guide. Your tour leader will be waiting for you at Asunción Airport (with the Birding Ecotours logo clearly displayed) and will then transfer you to your hotel. Please remember to keep your luggage tags, as they are required to exit the terminal at the airport. If you arrive in Asunción around midday, we can spend the afternoon birding the nearby Asuncion Bay. In case you arrive on an early flight, you will be transferred to the hotel but may have to wait until check-in is available. For an early check-in you might be charged extra directly by the hotel; this cost is not included in the overall tour price.
When filling out the customs declaration form, please use the below address for the hotel:
Hotel Bourbon Convention Center, Avenida Sudamericana con Atilano Cáceres, 3104, Asunción
Our tour will end in Asunción after an exciting eleven days in Paraguay. On the last day, your tour leader, or one of our tour representatives will transfer you to Asunción Airport from where you can connect with your international departure or join our Bolivia birding tour which follows immediately after our Paraguay tour.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS AND PACE
This trip ranks as one of our more difficult birding tours and will involve long days of birding and large distances between birding destinations. There will be some strenuous walking on this trip as well as a number of long drives. We will have early morning starts every day of the trip and a few late finishes (looking for nocturnal birds and animals).
The habitat in the Chaco and the Cerrado is open but we will do some forest trail birding in the Atlantic Forest which is more enclosed and not as easy to spot birds and wildlife.
We ask you to exchange US dollars to Paraguayan Guaraní at Asunción Airport. After we leave Asunción, we will spend several days in the remote countryside without access to ATMs, with the only other place to draw money on this tour being at Ciudad Del Este on Day 11. Some of the lodges and family haciendas where we will be staying do not accept credit cards for extra expenses not included in the tour, such as bar bills, gratuities and souvenirs. We ask you to draw enough cash in local currency and/or US dollars to cover any personal expenses.
Altitude should not be an issue in Paraguay as it is a relatively low-lying country with the country’s highest point being just 2,672 feet (842 meters) above sea level.
The weather throughout the trip will be hot, reaching temperatures between 77°F (25°C) and 91°F (33°C), although early mornings may be on the chilly side. The Chaco ranges from humid to dry areas and the Atlantic Forest will be hot and humid. Even though Paraguay’s rainy season only begins in late November and December (after our scheduled trip), we are likely to experience some rain in the Chaco and the Atlantic Forest.
Laundry is available at Iparoma Ranch, Hotel Concepción, and Mbaracayú Lodge however please note that laundry fees are not included in the tour price.
The accommodation standard on this trip varies from very good, such as in Asunción, to fairly basic in some of the haciendas we will be using. In the most basic places, you will at least have a clean room with an en suite bathroom, however hot showers may not be available in one of the lodges in the Chaco. In some of the basic haciendas, there will be no other extra services, other than dinner and accommodation.
In some areas, we may have to use double rooms, as several establishments have a limited number of rooms and it will depend on how long in advance we can make reservations, to provide single supplements. The earlier you book, the more likely we can secure a single supplement and private bathroom for you. If you are a light sleeper, we suggest you bring earplugs along.
We will use a single 4×4 vehicle for groups of up to three people, and two 4×4 vehicles for groups of 4-6 people. Occasionally we may use a third vehicle, for a group of 7-8. When we do have to travel in two (or three) vehicles, your tour leader will be switching between the vehicles with the vehicles driven by local English-speaking guides. Please note that this is one of the few Neotropical Birding Ecotours trips where we don’t provide a large and spacious van, due to the poor quality of the roads in Paraguay.
We ask you to travel with as little luggage as possible and to please limit yourself to one piece of large luggage per person, plus a small personal backpack/daypack, as space is limited in the vehicles.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO CONSIDER BEFORE JOINING OUR PARAGUAY BIRDING TOURS
We always try to provide the highest quality birding and wildlife tours at Birding Ecotours, which has been of utmost importance to us for almost two decades now (as per the July 2021 publication date of this piece). We normally receive excellent feedback from our clients and friends on the overall quality of our trips. This positive feedback normally pertains to the destination and overall birding experience, as well as to our tour leaders and the great facilities such as vehicles, accommodation, and meals that we use. Clients frequently mention that the service offered on our tours is better than what they were expecting and better than they have received with other tour companies. It is our goal to maintain this high standard of birding with the help of our excellent continent managers and ground partners.
However, for our new Paraguay tours, we would like to inform our clients about certain tour details which you will want to consider before booking this tour, as we have to lower our tour standard slightly for this particular destination. Paraguay is a great birding and wildlife destination and our tour is a serious birding and wildlife orientated trip, rather than a more relaxed birding holiday. This will mean that we will have many early departures (on almost every morning of the tour) and long days out in the field. Paraguay’s infrastructure (outside the capital Asunción) is not well-developed and for large portions of the trip we will have to take roads which are poorly maintained and could be a little uncomfortable to travel on.
We will always ensure the best accommodation possible, however in the more remote areas it will be fairly basic but clients should still be able to have private and clean rooms with en suite bathrooms. At some of the more basic ranches and haciendas, the rooms might be small and lacking air conditioning, despite the hot temperatures. Single supplements are often available but due to the reduced capacity of many of the family haciendas, where we will be staying, we ask you to consider booking your trip well in advance, to help secure a single supplement. If single supplements are not available you may have to share rooms with another tour participant. When staying in larger towns and cities, the accommodation is of a good standard and single supplements are not normally an issue to organise.
For the transport on this tour, a minibus is not logistically possible, especially for the roads in the Chaco, and so we will use two 4×4 vehicles. Each vehicle will take three passengers only, which will ensure everybody has their own window. Thankfully, the roads in Paraguay are generally flat and so we will not have to drive up long, winding mountain roads. However, you will have to be prepared for long drives on almost every day of the tour, sometimes as much as eight hours of driving in a single day, as we move from one destination to the next. There is just so much to see and experience in Paraguay and unfortunately this is the only way we can squeeze it all in!
For our meals on tour, we will have breakfasts at some of the lodges, while on other days we will have to take breakfasts out into the field and enjoy it in between the birding. Downtime and socialising after breakfast at the lodges will unfortunately be very limited, as time is of the essence on this trip. Lunches will generally be at road restaurants while traveling between destinations, while some lunches will be picnic lunches in the field. Dinners will be in hotel restaurants or at our lodges. We will have late dinners on a couple of days on the trip, as we will only be arriving quite late at our accommodation on these days.
It is possible for us to arrange vegetarian meal options but the vegetarian menu will generally be limited to just one or two options. Paraguayan food is not very diverse and beef is included in almost every meal – good news for those who enjoy beef though! Most of the meals will be fixed menus. Please let us know if you have any specific dietary requirements and we will enquire if this is possible on this tour, although meal options are often very limited in Paraguay and special dietary requirements may not be possible at all our destinations.
Our Paraguay tour is recommended for serious birders who are building a world list and are looking for South American rarities, or for those with a love for adventure and exploration in remote wilderness areas. There are excellent chances for photography on this tour but, as always (unless you are on a private photographic tour), we cannot spend large amounts of time for photographing, as the focus of this tour is birding, rather than bird photography.
We do not recommend this tour for people who would prefer a relaxed birding holiday with high quality service. You should be willing to spend long days (and some nights) out birding and looking for wildlife. For those of who enjoy this type of holiday though, this trip will be perfect for you!
Please let us know if you have any specific questions about the tour, we would love to have you along on this birding adventure with us!