Birding the Americas Trip Report and Planning Repository
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20 November 1991 -- 18 January 1992

by Rolf de By

Site report -- Part 2

[Click Here to Return to Part 1 of this report.]

The following sites were visited for one or more days. One can use the links provided here for a direct jump:

The Complete Bird List is in Part 3 of this report.

Coroico Road

This Section includes birds observed along the road from La Paz to Coroico (Nor Yungas road), dpto. La Paz, 24-29 December 1991. Our main movements can be traced on the following map.

Map of Coroico Road

Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

The Nor Yungas road (``The Most Dangerous Road in the World,'' according to the Miami Herald) drops from La Cumbre, a 4600 m mountain pass at 25 km east of La Paz, down to Yolosa, a village at 1200 m below the little town of Coroico. Meanwhile, the road winds through rich bird habitats, from the barren, wind swept mountain pass down to the tropical habitats around Yolosa.

Since our car was in La Paz for repairs, we covered the road by public transport, hitchhiking and on foot. We watched birds in the following locations:

During this trip we had much rain and fog, which is only normal in this area, and even more so in the rainy season. However, we had some quite nice weather as well. In Coroico the weather was warm and sunny most of the time.

Bird lists


On 24th December we watched birds on the La Paz (western) side of La Cumbre. Most of the time we spent on an extensive peat bog, searching for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Phegornis mitchellii and Grey-Breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus, but we found neither. The bog is about 2 or 3 km west of the pass, south of the road, and is not visible from the road. It is at an altitude of about 4500 m.

On the pass itself was fog, but on the bog the sky was rather clear. We did not have any snow or rain. However, when we returned to La Paz we found cars covered in snow and rivers flowing down the streets!

Andean Goose Chloephaga melanoptera. One pair on the bog.

Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris. A total of 13 individuals, including a party of 5.

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus. One.

Puna Hawk Buteo poecilochrous. One light phase.

Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus. One.

Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis. A pair was chasing an Andean Swallow Hirundo andecola, and actually captured it! The chase happened high up in the air, the two falcons alternately stooping on the swallow from above, after which they immediately ascended again for the next stoop. It was as if the falcons circled around in rather small vertical circles, around a swallow which fluttered around in desperation. Somewhat later we saw the two falcons sitting on the ground, the male eating the swallow. The female sat at a distance of about 10 m.

Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens. Altogether about 15.

South American (Puna) Snipe Gallinago (paraguaiae) andina. Two pairs on the bog.

Andean Gull Larus serranus. Altogether about 4. All were alarming.

Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola. One pair.

Common Miner Geositta cunicularia. At least 10.

Slender-billed Miner Geositta tenuirostris. One party of 3.

Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus. Many.

Streak-throated Canastero Asthenes humilis. One pair.

White-fronted Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons. At least 50 on the bog.

Puna Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola juninensis. Two or three.

Andean Rufous-backed (White-winged) Negrito Lessonia oreas. One female on the bog.

Andean Swallow Hirundo andecola. Several; one was caught by a pair of Aplomado Falcons Falco femoralis!

White-winged Diuca-finch Diuca speculifera. Several.

Bright-rumped Yellow-finch Sicalis uropygialis. One flock of about 25.


On our way back from Coroico we stayed one night at Pongo, to see if we could find birds from high-elevation scrub habitats. We arrived in the afternoon of January 2nd, and left at about noon on January 3rd (that is, we tried to, old hitch-hiking memories revived as we waited for a long four hours for some form of public transport to take us to La Paz! All buses and trucks were full!).

The tiny settlement of Pongo is found between La Cumbre and the road-block of Unduavi, at an altitude of 3500 m. It is at the bottom of the valley, the river flows through it. There used to be a trout project here, funded by the Japanese. The village is easily missed: look out for a row of 21 tiny shops on the south side of the road, the take-off to Pongo is just after the last shop. On the 3rd we watched birds around Pongo itself, in the short periods between rain showers. On the 4th we climbed up into a little valley above the main road, opposite the 21 roadside shops, i.e. north of it.

In and around the village there is much interesting looking scrub, which did not have any spectacular birds, however. Unfortunately we don't know much about plants, but we do know that there was no Polylepis. We found a more interesting area in the valley above the main road. At an elevation of around 3750 m we found a slope with very mossy (and slippery) boulders, on which scrub was growing, much of it Polylepis. This scrub area probably remains because the otherwise ubiquitous cattle cannot enter this bouldery and slippery area. The area had some good birds.

We camped in the centre of the settlement of Pongo, near the river. On the afternoon of January 3rd we had lots of rain. On the morning of the 4th it was dry, although clouds moved in already quite early. It started raining continuously just after we had packed our tent. Luckily there were roadside shops for shelter.

Andean Condor Vultur gryphus. One.

Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus. Several.

Andean Hillstar Oreotrochilus estella. Two females in the scrub of the side valley.

Great Sapphirewing Pterophanes cyanoptera. One in the scrub of the side valley.

Blue-mantled Thornbill Chalcostigma stanleyi. Possibly one in the scrub of the side valley at 3650 m. Spending quite a bit of time on the ground, and hovering just above it.

Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus. Very common.

Tawny Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura yanacensis. Several near the roadside shops, below the main road.

Streak-throated Canastero Asthenes humilis. One.

Scribble-tailed Canastero Asthenes maculicauda. Two in the side valley at 3600 m. However, they were not in scrub: one was in high grass between potato fields, the other was nearby, in high grass interspersed with boulders. Both showed themselves well, and had a conspicuous call, which we sound-recorded.

Line-fronted Canastero Asthenes urubambensis. One on the boulders between the Polylepis scrub of the side valley at around 3650 m.

Stripe-headed Antpitta Grallaria andicola. One adult on the boulder field in the side valley at 3700 m. Rolf saw it for some 15 minutes, popping up on a boulder and disappearing again, turning up a few meters beyond somewhat later, and so on. In [2] it is not listed for Bolivia, although it notes that Jon Fjeldså observed it in the Zongo valley. Sjoerd also saw it on the Takesi trek.

Andean Tapaculo Scytalopus (magellanicus) simonsi. Common. Some birds were carrying food, so presumably they had young.

Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus. Rather common below the main road.

Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca fumicolor. Two 1 km downstream from Pongo.

D' Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca oenanthoides. Two in the Polylepis scrub of the side valley.

Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola alpina. One.

Cinereous Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola cinerea. Two in the side valley at 3700 m. It should be noted that we never saw Spot-billed GT M. maculirostris, so we are not absolutely certain that we can discern between these two species.

Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina. Regularly one or 2, all the way from the river up into the side valley.

Chiguanco/Great Thrush Turdus chiguanco/fuscater. Common. We did not bother to differentiate between the two.

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis. Abundant.

Olive-backed (Peruvian) Sierra-Finch Phrygilus punensis. Common.

Plumbeous Sierra-finch Phrygilus unicolor. At least one at 3600 m.

Ash-breasted Sierra-finch Phrygilus plebejus. Common.

Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis. Common.

Plain-coloured Seedeater Catamenia inornata. Several.

Carbonated Flowerpiercer Diglossa carbonaria.

Apparently, this is one of the few places of inter-gradation between the two.

White-browed Conebill Conirostrum ferrugineiventre. Rather common below the main road. Always in pairs.


On 25th December we went by bus from La Paz to Cotapata, where we stayed for two days, from the 25th at noon until the 27th at noon.

Cotapata is at an elevation of about 3150 m. It is halfway between the road-block (`tranca') of Unduavi and the little restaurants of Chuspipata, and is almost on top of the long mountain-ridge which is followed by the road until Chuspipata. Cotapata consists of a petrol station and a few houses. On the northern side of Cotapata a little motor-able track leads over the ridge and down the northern slope to what may have been a mine (distance some 3-5 km). The track starts at the petrol station, and forks after 200 m. The left fork is an old road dead end, the right goes over the ridge all the way into the lush valley and forks after some 4 km. We spent most of our time on the ridge, say the first 2 km of the right hand track. The whole area is covered with dense and low cloud-forest. On the ridge, some patches where the forest has been cut are covered with dense bamboo and other plants. Later we found out that this same location is the only known site for Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii in Bolivia!

We pitched our tent beside the track on the northern side of the ridge, where we had a great view over almost undisturbed and very green mountains and valleys, when not obstructed by clouds. This was roughly at km 2 of the right hand track. Finding a camp site in this area is not easy; we simply camped on the outer side of a hairpin in the track. It is just after where the track bends to the left and goes down (there is a chopped slope, the only one in the area, above and to the left of you). Just 50 m further down is the hairpin to the right where you can put your tent. Extremely beautiful views can be had from here under good conditions. One should be warned that with heavy rain the track itself can become a stream, so care should be taken in positioning the tent. We put up our nets between the main road and the tent.

We put up three nets:

Captured birds were photographed, and we took blood samples for DNA-research.

The weather was a quick and unpredictable succession of sunshine, fog and (sometimes torrential) rain showers.

Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus. One near the road.

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata. Common.

Parrot spec. Several heard, but never seen! It seemed as if they would call only when there was fog between the observer and the bird.

Great Sapphirewing Pterophanes cyanoptera. One was probably this species.

Violet-throated Starfrontlet Coeligena violifer. One. The whitish band on the breast was broader than on Plate XXVIII of [1].

Scaled Metaltail Metallura aenocauda. One.

Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina. Several. We captured 1.

Bar-bellied Woodpecker Veniliornis nigriceps. One.

Light-crowned Spinetail Cranioleuca albiceps. Several, usually in mixed flocks. This was the ``white-crowned'' version.

Black-throated Thistletail Schizoeaca harterti. Rather common. Noisy. Sound recorded.

Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger. Common. We captured 1.

Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula. Several heard calling and singing. One was seen. Sound recorded.

Sierran Elaenia Elaenia pallatangae. One was possibly this species.

White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys. Rather common.

Tufted Tit-tyrant Anairetes parulus. We captured 1. It came probably from scrub near the road.

Ochraceous-breasted Tyrannulet Myiophobus ochraceiventris. Several. We captured a pair.

Crowned Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca frontalis. Several. We captured 1.

Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis. Several. We captured 1.

Great Thrush Turdus fuscater. Common. We captured 1.

Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus. Possibly present, not found in the notebook.

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis. Common along the road.

Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis. Several along the road.

Rufous-naped Brush-finch Atlapetes rufinucha. Common.

Plush-capped Finch Catamblyrhynchus diadema. Several in mixed flocks.

Orange-browed Hemispingus Hemispingus calophrys. Rather common in mixed flocks.

Three-striped Hemispingus Hemispingus trifasciatus. Common in mixed flocks.

Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala. Two.

Hooded Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis montana. Rather common. In small flocks.

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus igniventris. Common. We captured 3.

Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager Delothraupis castaneoventris. Several in mixed flocks.

Blue-and-black Tanager Tangara vassorii. Several in mixed flocks.

Moustached Flowerpiercer Diglossa mystacalis. Several. We captured 3.

Spectacled Whitestart Myioborus melanocephalus. Common.

Citrine Warbler Basileuterus luteoviridis. Common, often singing. Sound recorded.

Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor. Common in mixed flocks.


On the afternoon of 27th December we walked down from Chuspipata, through very steep cloud forest, until we found a camping spot a few kilometers beyond at about 2940 m, close to the road, on a hill where the forest had been cut. Here we stayed for a day, walking around a bit, hitchhiking up to Chuspipata and walking down again. On December 29th we packed our tent and walked down to an elevation of about 1750 m. From here we got a ride to Yolosa and later on to Coroico.

Chuspipata is at an elevation of about 3100 m, on the top of a ridge, and is windy and foggy. From here the narrow unpaved road drops down along very steep forested slopes, until the slopes become less steep at an elevation of about 2700 m (this is a rough estimate). At an elevation of about 2500 m there is another spectacular stretch of road.

The steepest slopes have undisturbed forest, but further down along the road the forest is mostly secondary. However, away from the road the forest seemed to be less disturbed. At lower elevations there are some houses.

We placed three nets near our tent. However, we did not capture any exciting species. Near Chuspipata we captured two Pale-footed Swallows Notiochelidon flavipes, see under that species.

The weather was less unpleasant than at Cotapata. Along the higher parts it was still often foggy and rainy, but lower down we were no longer inside the clouds, it rained less and (of course) it was warmer.

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris. Two at 2400-2500 m.

Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus. Three at about 2500 m.

Black-and-Chestnut Eagle Oroaetus isidori. One adult at about 2500 m.

Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus. At least two at Chuspipata.

Guan Penelope spec.. One heard at about 2500 m.

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata. Common down to about 2400 m.

Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea. Several singing from about 2500 m down to about 2300 m were probably this species.

Pionus Parrot spec. Several heard, but never seen. At all elevations.

Collared Inca Coeligena torquata. Common from 2950 down to about 2500 m.

Amethyst-throated Sunangel Heliangelus amethysticollis. Several from 3000 down to about 2700 m.

Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina. At least two at 2950 m.

Long-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus kingi. One at 2700 m. Two at about 2300 m.

Blue-banded Toucanet Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis. One at about 2200 m.

Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Piculus rivolii. One at about 2600 m.

Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae. Several at 2950 m.

Light-crowned Spinetail Cranioleuca albiceps. Several, usually in mixed flocks, down to about 2800 m.

Black-throated Thistletail Schizoeaca harterti. Possibly seen at 2950 m.

Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger. Common down to about 2800 m.

Streaked Tuftedcheek Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii. One above Chuspipata at 3150 m, and one at 2700 m in a mixed flock.

Variable Antshrike Thamnophilus caerulescens. One bird heard at about 2500 m was possibly this species.

White-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena leuconota. At least two singing in roadside scrub at about 2100 m. Sound recorded.

Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula. One was singing at 2950 m.

Rufous-faced Antpitta Grallaria erythrotis. At least three were heard singing between 3000 and 2800 m.

Bolivian Tyrannulet Zimmerius bolivianus. One at 2800 m.

Sierran Elaenia Elaenia pallatangae. One possibly at about 2100 m.

White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys. Rather common.

White-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus stictopterus. One or two at 3050 m.

Streak-necked Flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis. One or two in a mixed flock at 2700 m.

Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant Phylloscartes ophthalmicus. A single bird at 2700 m.

Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum plumbeiceps. One pair at about 2100 m.

Ochraceous-breasted Tyrannulet Myiophobus ochraceiventris. At least two at 2900 m.

Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea. Common from 2900 m all the way down.

Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris. Several from 2800 m down to 2600 m.

Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis. Several. We did not make notes about the altitudinal distribution.

Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea. Several from 3000 m down to about 2500 m.

Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus. Three at about 2000 m.

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus. Two at about 2500 m.

Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor. Several from about 2900 m down to about 2500 m.

Chestnut-crested Cotinga Ampelion rufaxilla. We saw one at 2550 m. It was sitting in top of a tree in rather secondary forest, close to the road, and `singing'.

Barred Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata. Fairly common from Chuspipata down to about 2800 m.

Yungas Manakin Chiroxiphia boliviana. We heard several at about 2200 m.

Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca. Common from 2700 m downwards. Some had nests in rock crevices with calling young.

Pale-footed Swallow Notiochelidon flavipes. When we walked down from Chuspipata on the afternoon of the 27th, a small flock of about 5 was flying back and forth very low over the road. This was where the slope is steepest, at an elevation of about 3050 m, some 300 m beyond the big hairpin with waterfall after Chuspipata, where the road curves to the right, parallel to the valley. One can see this curve when looking down from Chuspipata. The next day we came back with a mist net, and within 10 minutes we had captured two birds. We did this by holding the net low over the road, and then raising the net quickly when a bird was almost between us--this is called ``swallow-flapping'' in Holland. Both birds had brood patches. According to [2], there are only sight records for the country so far. Unfortunately, our pictures came out much too dark: the birds are only just identifiable on them.

Sepia-brown Wren Cinnycerthia peruana. We saw one singing bird at 2900 m.

Moustached Wren Thryothorus genibarbis. It was probably this species which we heard frequently from about 2300 m. downwards.

Mountain Wren Troglodytes solstitialis. We saw a few from 2900 m. down to about 2300 m.

Grey-breasted Wood-wren Henicorhina leucophrys. Common. Heard singing from 2500 m. down to about 2000 m.

Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides. One near Chuspipata. Several were singing along the stretch of road where the waterfalls are falling on and over it, at about 2500 m.

Great Thrush Turdus fuscater. Rather common down to about 2600 m.

Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus. One near Chuspipata at 3180 m.

Purplish Jay Cyanocorax cyanomelas. At least two at 1900 m.

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis. Common along the road.

Rufous-naped Brush-finch Atlapetes rufinucha. Common.

Plush-capped Finch Catamblyrhynchus diadema. Several in a mixed flock at 2900 m.

Grass-green Tanager Chlorornis riefferii. A party of about five in a mixed flock at 2700 m.

Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus. Common from 2700 m downwards.

Orange-browed Hemispingus Hemispingus calophrys. Rather common in mixed flocks down to 3000 m.

Superciliaried Hemispingus Hemispingus superciliaris. Rather common in mixed flocks down to 2800 m.

Drab Hemispingus Hemispingus xanthophthalmus. At least three in a mixed flock at 2900 m.

Three-striped Hemispingus Hemispingus trifasciatus. Several in mixed flocks down to 3000 m.

Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala. Common from 2950 m downwards. We captured one.

Hooded Mountain-tanager Buthraupis montana. Common. In small flocks down to 2950 m.

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager Anisognathus igniventris. Common down to 2800 m, maybe further down. We captured one.

Blue-winged Mountain-tanager Anisognathus flavinuchus. One singing at about 2600 m. A little flock at about 2500 m.

Golden-collared Tanager Iridosornis jelskii. Fairly common along one short section of road: from a few hundred meters beyond Chuspipata where the road crosses a stream, until a few hundred meters beyond where the road makes a sharp turn to the right around the mountain, where we trapped Pale-footed Swallow. The elevation here is about 3050 m.

Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanager Delothraupis castaneoventris. Several in mixed flocks down to about 3050 m.

Blue-and-black Tanager Tangara vassorii. Several in mixed flocks, down to about 2700 m.

Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossa cyanea. Common down to about 2600 m. Often singing. We captured one.

Spectacled Whitestart Myioborus melanocephalus. Common.

Citrine Warbler Basileuterus luteoviridis. Common, often singing.

Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus. Two at about 2300 m. One at about 2100 m.

Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor. Common in mixed flocks down to about 2700 m.

Dusky-green Oropendola Psarocolius atrovirens. Common from about 2500 m. downwards.

Mountain Cacique Cacicus leucoramphus. Two at 3000 m.


From December 29th until January 2nd we stayed in Hostal Kory in Coroico (1650 m). Although Coroico is a nice little town with a pleasant climate, its surroundings are not too special for birds (meaning: we didn't see much). However, the better birds are listed here:

Red-backed Hawk Buteo polyosoma. A very dark buteo hovering over the slopes above the village was probably this species. It had the right silhouette to be Red-backed Hawk.

Speckled Chachalaca Ortalis motmot. Common and sometimes noisy around Coroico.

Tropical Screech-owl Otus choliba. One evening we heard two singing along the road which passes by Motel Don Quijote, east of Coroico.

Chestnut-collared Swift Cypseloides rutilus. We saw several little flocks near the village.

Blue-tailed Emerald Chlorostilbon mellisugus. One close to the village.

White-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster. Several near the village.

Versicoloured Barbet Eubucco versicolor. Two in a mixed flock close to Coroico.

Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus One just south of Yolosa.

Pale-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis albescens. Three were in scrub along the river downstream from Yolosa, near the bridge straight below Coroico. Sound recorded.

Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans. One in a mixed flock, close to Coroico.

Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper Lochmias nematura. One at a stream which crosses the Yolosa-La Paz road, a few hundred meters up from Yolosa.

White-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena leuconota. Two were singing along the Coroico-Yolosa road, just outside Coroico.

Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea. One or two at the river downstream from Yolosa, near the bridge straight below Coroico.

Pewee spec. Contopus spec. One possible Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus was seen just east of Coroico.

Pale-edged Flycatcher Myiarchus cephalotes. At least three just below Coroico.

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris. One near Coroico.

Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor. One near Coroico.

Chestnut-crowned Becard Pachyramphus castaneus. Two near Coroico.

Pale-breasted Thrush Turdus leucomelas. One near Yolosa.

White-necked Thrush Turdus albicollis. At least three birds singing were sound-recorded near Yolosa and identified from the tape afterwards.

Red-crested Finch Coryphospingus cucullatus. Several near Coroico.

Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris. Some near the bridge right below Coroico.

Swallow Tanager Tersina viridis. One little flock on the slopes below Coroico.

Two-banded Warbler Basileuterus bivittata. At least four birds identified as this species were seen just below Coroico in mixed plantations (mainly coffee and bananas). Sound recordings were made. We first mis-identified this species as Pale-legged Warbler (Basileuterus signatus), but Guy Cox identified the species from our tape.

Bobolink Doliychonyx oryzivorus. One female on the soccer field of Coroico.

Yellow-bellied Siskin Carduelis xanthogastra. A flock of about 10 near Coroico.

Oruro and vicinity

Location, Habitat, Weather ...

We drove from Oruro along the western side of the lake until the village of El Choro, close to Lake Poopo. The road first crosses the (normally) very shallow lake, then passes a village, shortly later followed by a bridge over the Rio Desaguadero. Immediately after the bridge we took a side road to the left which led us to the village of El Choro. This side road follows the Rio Desaguadero for some distance. The lake had almost completely dried up. Only the following places had some water: The lake itself was transformed into bare clay with scattered rush beds. On the Oruro side are some low rocky hills. On the other (southwestern) side, all the way to El Choko, the landscape is completely flat with scattered houses. The vegetation is rather desolate: bushes of some kind of grass and other low vegetation. There are large patches of bare earth, but also some areas with very short grass. Some shallow pools held water, presumably from rains.

All birding was done along the road, with an occasional short walk.

The weather was fine and sunny, but in the late afternoon we just managed to stay ahead of an impressive rainstorm.

Bird list

White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland. Several near the Oruro tranca.

Titicaca Flightless Grebe Rollandia microptera. Five to ten near the Oruro tranca.

Silvery Grebe Podiceps occipitalis. Two near the Oruro tranca.

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. Two.

Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi. One party of about ten.

Crested Duck Anas specularioides. Altogether about 20, always in pairs.

Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris. Altogether about 50 (rough estimate).

Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica. About ten.

Silver (Puna) Teal Anas versicolor (puna). Several.

Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera. Several.

Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis. Several.

Red-backed/Puna Hawk Buteo polyosoma/poecilochrous. One, probably Puna H.

American Kestrel Falco sparverius. Several.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. One.

Plumbeous Rail Rallus sanguinolentus. One.

Andean Coot Fulica ardesiaca. Several.

Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens. Altogether about 25.

Two-banded (Puna) Plover Charadrius falklandicus (alticola). One.

Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina. Several along the Rio Desaguadero.

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca. At least one.

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes. Several.

Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii. One party of three.

Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus. Two pairs, one pair was calling.

Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus. One pair in an area with even less vegetation than where the Grey-breasted S. were seen.

Andean Gull Larus serranus. Altogether about 40.

Bare-faced Ground-dove Metropelia ceciliae. About five on rocky hills on the Oruro side of the lake.

Golden-spotted Ground-dove Metropelia aymara. Altogether about 25.

Mountain Parakeet Bolborhynchus aurifrons. About six on rocky hills on the Oruro side of the lake.

Burrowing Owl Speotyto cunicularia. Altogether about five. One was constantly hovering, like a kestrel.

Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola. One pair.

Common Miner Geositta cunicularia. Common.

Wren-like Rushbird Phleocryptes melanops. Abundant on the banks of the few patches of water left.

Many-coloured Rush-tyrant Tachuris rubrigastra. One.

Andean Rufous-backed (White-winged) Negrito Lessonia oreas. Common.

Andean Swallow Hirundo andicola. Rather common.

Short-billed Pipit Anthus furcatus. A party of two.

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis. Several.

Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus. Altogether about 25.

Puna Yellow-finch Sicalis lutea. Several.

Bright-rumped Yellow-finch Sicalis uropygialis. Common.

Greenish Yellow-finch Sicalis olivascens. At least one.

Yellow-winged Blackbird Agelaius thilius. Rather common.


The birding area near Siberia, which is a tiny settlement, lies on the border of dptos. Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. We visited this area on the 8th and 9th January 1992. The topographical coordinates of our ringing site are 64.42.19W 17.50.12S. The following map gives a general impression of the area.

Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

We were very lucky that we found an excellent camping spot in the night of January 7th, in dense fog in which we were barely able to keep the car on the road. The tent was pitched on a meadow about five kilometers east of the village of Siberia, about one and a half kilometers southwest of a tiny settlement which is indicated on the 1:50.000 map as El Empalme (it is in this tiny settlement where the road to Khara Huasi forks off). The meadow is on the southern side of the road, on the top of a ridge. The elevation is about 2500 meters. The man-made meadow is surrounded by shrub and mossy forest with glades. The whole area is grazed by cattle. Although the vegetation indicates that much rain falls during the year, the weather was warm and sunny during our stay! We left on January 9th at about noon.


We put up three mist nets: Much of the time we spent extracting birds from the nets, and taking blood samples and photographs of them. We had little time to do proper birdwatching.

Map of Siberia

Bird list

Brown Tinamou Crypturellus obsoletus Calls similar to (but not quite the same as) Tataupa Tinamou C. tataupa were heard frequently.

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura. Several.

Hawk Accipiter spec. One, probably Sharp-shinned H. A. striatus.

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris. Two along the road, calling loudly.

Black-and-Chestnut Eagle Oroaetus isidori. One soaring low over the forest.

Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus. One.

Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata. Common.

Scaly-naped Parrot Amazona mercenaria. Common.

Owl spec. One or two unidentified species were heard calling at dawn.

Swift spec. Two noisy flocks.

Green Violetear Colibri thalassinus. Very common, we captured three.

White-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster. We captured one.

Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys. One seen, which we captured.

Violet-throated Starfrontlet Coeligena violifer. At least two seen, we captured one male.

Scaled Metaltail Metallura aenocauda. Not certain, we saw several birds which were possibly this species.

Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina. Common, we captured three.

Bar-bellied Woodpecker Picumnus aurifrons. We captured a female (it hurt!).

Light-crowned Spinetail Cranioleuca albiceps. We captured one.

Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger. One in a mixed flock.

Rufous-faced Antpitta Grallaria erythrotis. Several birds were calling.

Unicoloured Tapaculo Scytalopus (unicolor) parvirostris. Rather common. We captured a pair. We made sound recordings of this same pair duetting, wherein one bird produced the song, and the other bird produced a call which was presumably an alarm call.

Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet Phyllomyias uropygialis. We captured one. On no other occasion have we seen this species!

Elaenia spec. At least one.

White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys. Common. We captured three.

Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea. One.

Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis. Common. We captured three.

Plumbeous Tyrant Knipolegus signatus. Common, several males making display flights. We captured three.

Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rufocristatus. Common.

Pale-footed Swallow Notiochelidon flavipes. We saw several birds which were probably this species.

House Wren Troglodytes aedon. One.

Mountain Wren Troglodytes solstitialis. Two.

Great/Chiguanco Thrush Turdus fuscater/chiguanco. Several.

Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus. Common. We captured a female.

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis. Common.

Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis. One.

Rufous-naped Brush-finch Atlapetes rufinucha. Common. We captured two.

Common Bush-tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus. Rather common, we captured one.

Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala. One.

Blue-winged Mountain-tanager Anisognathus flavinuchus. Rather common. Some were singing. We captured one.

Chestnut-bellied Mountain-tanager Delothraupis castaneoventris. One or two.

Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossa cyanea. At least one. Singing all day.

Spectacled Whitestart Myioborus melanocephalus. Several.

Citrine/Pale-legged Warbler Basileuterus luteoviridis/signatus. One.

White-browed Conebill Conirostrum ferrugineiventre. Rather common.


This Section includes birds observed around the village of Comarapa, dpto. Santa Cruz, by SM on August 1st-3rd, 1991 and by both of us on January 9th-10th, 1992. The map below gives a simplified overview of the area that we visited. The topographical coordinates of Comarapa are 64.32W 17.55S.

Map of Comarapa

Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

The little town of Comarapa is located halfway on the southern road (the `old' road, as it is known) between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, at an altitude of about 1700 m. Because the long mountain ridge of the Yungas of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz forms an effective rain barrier, Comarapa is in a dry area which forms part of the region known as the Bolivian Valles. The immediate surroundings of Comarapa consist of irrigated fields and orchards on the valley floor, and remnants of dry forest and much scrubby and thorny habitat on the hillsides. To the east, along the road to Santa Cruz, the habitat reminds one of Arizona because of all the giant cactuses.

Comarapa is a convenient place for birding, because it is easy to reach, has good accommodation, and good birding starts only five minutes from the hotel. Besides, the cloud forests of Siberia are not far away.

All birding was done NW of Comarapa, along the little river which runs west of town, and along the road which starts just over the river, on the right. However, other areas around town look interesting as well.

SM was in Comarapa from 1st-3rd August 1991, RdB and SM were there on 9th-10th January 1992. Hotel Central can be recommended.

Bird List

Blue-crowned Parakeet Aratinga acuticaudata. In August feeding in the orchards. In January seen flying overhead. Common along the road to Santa Cruz.

Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia. One was calling in January.

Blue-tailed Emerald Chlorostilbon mellisugus. Several in January.

Glittering-bellied Emerald Chlorostilbon aureoventris. One or more in August. A female in January.

White-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster. One in January.

Red-tailed Comet Sappho sparganura. Common in August.

Spot-backed Puffbird Nystalus maculatus. One in August.

Striped Woodpecker Picoides lignarius. One in August.

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes angustirostris. Several in August.

Bolivian Earthcreeper Upucerthia harterti. A pair was alarming noisily along the road which starts behind the river, at about 500 meters from its start, in August.

Lesser or Short-tailed Canastero Asthenes spec. One bird, glimpsed on the 9th January, may well have been either of these two species.

Azara's or Sooty-fronted Spinetail Synallaxis azarae or frontalis. Rather common in January. Because the habitat was dry thorn-scub, this species was probably Sooty-fronted Spinetail S. frontalis.

Stripe-crowned Spinetail Cranioleuca pyrrhophia. At least three in January near San Isidro, E of Comarapa.

Rufous-capped Antshrike Thamnophilus rufocapillus. One or more in August.

Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet Phaeomyias murina. Several pairs of what was probably this species, in January.

Scrub Flycatcher Sublegatus modestus. One in August.

Suiriri Flycatcher Suiriri suiriri. Several in August.

Small-billed Elaenia Elaenia parvirostris. Common in January.

White-bellied Tyrannulet Serpophaga munda. Several in August.

Greater Wagtail-tyrant Stigmatura butydoides. Several in August.

Pearly-vented Tody-tyrant Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer. One was singing in August.

Bran-coloured Flycatcher Myiophobus fasciatus. Several in January.

Yellow-browed Tyrant Satrapa icterophrys. Several in January.

White-tipped Plantcutter Phytotoma rutila. Several, in August and January.

Masked Gnatcatcher Polioptila dumicola. Several, in both periods.

Rufous-bellied Thrush Turdus rufiventris. Fairly common, in both periods; always close to the river, or actually on the river banks.

Grey-crested Finch Lophospingus griseocristatus. Fairly common, in both periods.

Black-and-rufous Warbling-finch Poospiza nigrorufa. One in August and one in January.

Ringed Warbling-finch Poospiza torquata. Fairly common, in both periods.

Black-capped Warbling-finch Poospiza melanoleuca. Common, especially so in August.

Stripe-headed Brush-finch Atlapetes torquatus. A party of three in August.

Great Pampa-finch Embernagra platensis. Fairly common, in both periods.

Ultramarine Grosbeak Cyanocompsa brissonii. A male in January. A female also then near San Isidro, E of Comarapa.

Hepatic Tanager Piranga flava. Fairly common, in both periods.

Rusty Flowerpiercer Diglossa sittoides. One in August.

Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis. One in January.

Other species: Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura, Roadside hawk Buteo magnirostris, Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata, Picui Ground-dove Columbina picui, White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi, Guira Cuckoo Guira guira, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum, White-winged Black-tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus, Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea, Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus, Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus, Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleauca, House Wren Troglodytes aedon, Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco, Creamy-bellied Thrush Turdus amaurochalinus, Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus, Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis, Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola, Double-collared Seedeater Sporophila caerulescens, Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis, Black-backed Grosbeak Pheuctitus aureoventris, Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris, Sayaca Tanager Thraupis sayaca, Blue-and-yellow Tanager Thraupis bonariensis, Brown-capped Whitestart Myioborus brunniceps, Epaulet Oriole Icterus cayanensis, Bay-winged Cowbird Molothrus badius, Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanicus

See also: Clarke, R.O.S., 1991: Field survey of the Comarapa Valley and the cloud forests of Siberia, dpto. Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Unpublished?


We would like to express our gratitude to Jon Fjeldså for even more raising our interest in the birds of Bolivia, for his useful suggestions, and for his hospitality in Copenhagen. We want to thank Saul Arias for giving us directions on birds around Cochabamba. We are much indebted to Guy and Jane Cox for many a pleasant evening in Santa Cruz, for useful hints, and for correcting some of our mis-identifications. Finally, we thank Jeroen de By for being such a fine travel companion during the first four weeks of this trip. Life with birdwatchers can be tough!