Descriptions of birds of prey in Torres del Paine National Park
In and Around Torres del Paine there are 105 Species of Bird, including Fifteen Birds of Prey. Here we mention 8 of the birds of prey you will more likely see during your trip.
English Name / Chilean Name
The Andean Condor / Condor
Found throughout Chile, this is the iconic bird of the Andes. The Condor can exceed 3mt from wing tip to wing tip, making it a massive bird. It can fly at 7,000mt high, gliding from thermal to thermal for hours on end as it scans, with laser-accurate eyesight, for food below. Usually a Condor will swoop down to feed on a carcass. However, if desperate it will eat eggs, small birds, and young animals. It is the largest, flying bird in the Southern Hemisphere and is easily recognisable from a white-coloured band of features around its neck, like a white collar. The life span of this bird is usually around 75 to 80 years.
Falco Sparverius Cinnamonis / Cernícalo
This is a hawk bird lives in the area from the Atacama Desert down to the Tierra del Fuego, usually found in fields, meadows, and mountain areas. It is a solitary bird, but one of the most common in Chile, that feeds on insects and small vertebrates such as rodents and also small birds.
It is brick red in colour, agile and quick in flight and can stop mid air in order to observe. This hawk can also be quite aggressive and is capable of evicting any other raptor that enters its territory. It is adaptable to live in any area except a forest.
recognisable from a white-coloured band of features around its neck, like a white collar. The life span of this bird is usually around 75 to 80 years.
Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle / Aguila Mora
This hawk is found all over Chile, but especially in the lower altitude zones of the Andes. It feeds on live animals, mainly mammals such as rabbits, mice, but also snakes and partridges. The bird will hunt by diving down on its prey and catching it with its claws. It can be identified in flight by its short, wedged-shaped tail.
Rufous-Tailed Hawk / Aguilucho de Cola Rojiza
This bird of prey is found mainly in Patagonia, in the low Andes, especially the temperate, Nothofagus Steppe and forest. Typically, its wingspan measures between 45-60cm. It will feed mainly on small birds as well as mammals such as mice, rabbits, and hares. Usually it will stalk its prey from a high point on land, or when it is gliding, and once it has established where the next meal is coming from it will swoop down and get it.
Cinereous Harrier / Vari
This Harrier is a species of Falcon, typically found throughout South America. The bird is “plain” looking with long legs, a long tail and slender body. They are usually around 50cm in length, with small beaks.
It will inhabit low, swampy terrain feeding on insects, reptiles, small birds, mammals and on a smaller scale on arachnids.
Both the male and female are able to puff out feathers around their necks to make them appear larger than they are, similar to what an owl will do. It will fly slowly and erratically, often remaining motionless in the air, gliding, as it searches for food.
Chimango Caracara / Tiuque
The Chimango is also part of the Falcon family, found throughout the southern half of South America, however, it has also been spotted as far east as the Falkland Islands. Typically it grows to between 37 to 40cm in length.
It is a sedentary bird, but with great ability to adapt to its environment. Usually it lives close to water, hills and in fields. It does not go into the mountains. It will feed on insects, slugs, worms and larvae, but will also consume small fish, toads and even the carcass of dead animals.
Magellanic Owl or Great Horned Owl / Tucuquere
The name “Tucuquere” alludes to its cry, which is notable for its deep hooting, consisting of a double-note followed by a loud, vibrating sound. This is the largest of the owl family to live in the region of Patagonia, reaching 45cm in length, and usually found living in forests.
Typically, during the day it will rest on a branch inside the forest. It then comes to life at night and with its incredible night vision it will seek out and feed on rodents, small mammals, birds, reptiles and some invertebrates.
Austral Pygmy Owl / Chuncho
This owl inhabits the Southern Cone of South America. It is a small bird that measures 20cm head to tail with a hooked beak, yellow legs and large, yellow eyes. However, its most distinguished feature is its pair of “fake” eyes that are drawn on the feathers of the neck and help to ward off attacks from predators. It is small in size and silent in flight. When it flies from branch to branch it will usually do so unnoticed.
The Chuncho has relatively diurnal customs, as does the Tucuquere, and can be quite aggressive and fierce with its prey. Furthermore, it will hunt larger animals than itself, quickly killing them with is small, but powerful claws. It feeds on birds, insects, mammals and reptiles.
Caracara Plancus / Carancho
You can find this bird throughout Chile, from Arica in the far north, down to Tierra del Fuego in the far south. It can be found specifically near forests, open fields or scrub land.
In Magellan it is quite common to find it standing on fences or light poles beside rural or interprovincial roads. It measures between 55 and 58cm in length and its height is 120cm. Typically it weighs up to 1.6kg.
On its head is a black crown of feathers, and its cheeks and neck are of a cream color. Then its loin and legs are dark brown and its breast also a dark brown, but with cross lines cream color. It has a yellowish bill with a bluish and orange base. This bird is carnivorous. The Carancho does not hunt in the same way as other birds of prey. Instead, it places itself at a certain distance from its prey, then it walks towards it and then charges at the prey as it gets closer. When live prey is not available it will feed on carcasses. Often it can be seen eating next to vultures and condors. It will eat mice, small birds, chickens, snakes, toads.
Eagle / Aguila Mora
The eagle lives in throughout Chile, from the Atacama to Tierra del Fuego. It lives anywhere but is seen more in the low areas of the mountain range, on vegetated slopes, shrubs and forests.
It is a large bird that measures up to 200cm in height and 80cm in length. Usually weighing around 2kg.
The upper part of its body is a bluish black. Its throat, abdomen and legs are white, but with thin dark veins. The wings are black with greyish parts. The Eagle has a hooked bill, which is bluish grey at the tip and yellowish at the base.
Females of this species are larger than males. The juvenile eagles have a different color to the adults such as dark almost black with reddish brown tones. However, when the young birds are about 4years of age they assume the color of an adult.
Its feeding is mainly based on live animals, such as small mammals (mice or rabbits), sometimes hunting snakes and partridges.
The hunting strategy is typical of birds of prey, which is to swoop down from above and catch the victim with its claws. Once in its clutches the bird will kill its prey by burying its talons into the body or pecking it to death with its beak. Once the prey is caught it will be taken to its nest where the young will be fed.
It is a bird very suspicious of anything getting close to it and will fly away if anyone tries to get near.