Birdwatching Tours in Uruguay
Birding With Me invites you to meet the birds of Uruguay, the land that lies to the east of the river that the Guaraní indians named "the river of the colorful birds". This territory has an interesting richness of birds, as a result of a great diversity of environments. Birdwatching in Uruguay is very enjoyable and productive; this country is home to 50% of the birds of Argentina and 25% of the birds of Brazil, and they can be seen in short distances and in a short time.
Come to discover the birds of Uruguay!
Download the itineraries to learn more about the tours and the birds. Click here to get the bird list for Uruguay Get in contact with Birding With Me to learn about different options of accommodations and prices. We will be glad to organize a custom tour based on your preferences.
East wetlands and ravines
In the east of the country there is a large reserve of wetlands that are integrated in the international RAMSAR Convention and are crucial not only for their great richness of bird species, but also support a significant abundance of individuals and several bird species that are globally threatened; for this they are also recognized as Important Bird Areas. In the same region is found the Crows Ravines Protected Area, another Important Bird Area where special birds can be seen in a beautiful landscape of hills and valleys covered by dense forests.
Montevideo/Punta del Este
Full day tours
If you are coming to Montevideo or Punta del Este for business or vacationing on a cruise ship, these are special itineraries that with a bird guide you will be able to see more than 80 species in a full day near these cities. Out of the capital city of Montevideo are found several natural reserves that are important for migrant terns, gulls, plovers and sandpipers that arrive in large numbers. Punta del Este has one of the most important wetland reserves in Uruguay and is the only place where the Chilean Flamingo occurs in the country.
This tour has 13 destinations including every National Park and the most remarkable Important Bird Areas. You will bird in a variety of habitats and in Rincón de Franquía and Paso del Centurion, two protected areas that are still underexplored by science. This tour has the largest bird list of all tours and, counting even globally endangered species and tropical bird species in their southernmost distribution. You will travel all around the country.
On this tour you will bird in the west of the country, in Esteros de Farrapos National Park. This area is located along the Uruguay River and protects two kinds of native forests and some of the most important wetlands in the country. It is also an Important Bird Area where globally endangered bird species like the Chestnut Seedeater and the Saffron-cowled Blackbird are present.
Why Birdwatching in Uruguay?
Uruguay brings several important features that make birdwatching very enjoyable and productive. The west region is dominated by the Pampas ecological system, and the north and northeast environments show a clear influence of the Atlantic Forest. In a small area, many different environments are involved, and that is why the diversity of birds is so great. The territory of Uruguay is 48 times smaller than Brazil but contains 25% of its bird species, and is 15 times smaller than Argentina but 50% of its species are represented in this small country. Of the total of 455 bird species that are recorded for Uruguay, a hundred can be seen in a single day! Moreover, the coastline and wetlands here are very important for migrant species that arrive every year, during summer and winter, from the north and south of the continent.
If you are interested in southern South American bird species, consider visiting Uruguay! Click here for more information.
Some information about Uruguay
Uruguay is a democratic country located in South America, at 33ºS, 56ºW. It borders with Brazil to north and east and with Argentina to the west, along the Uruguay River. It has a surface of 176,214 square kilometers and a population of three and a half million inhabitants, of which half live in the capital city of Montevideo, where the Montevideo International Airport is located. The low population density is evident in the countryside and also in the natural areas that are good for birding.
Uruguay is politically divided in 19 departments. The official language is Spanish and Portuguese can be spoken as a second language in the departments that border with Brazil.
The weather is mild, with temperatures between 17 to 28ºC (62 to 82ºF) in summer (December to March), and 6 to 14ºC (42 to 57ºF) in winter (July to September).
Since 2000, Uruguay has had a National System of Protected Areas that includes 15 ecosystems, totalling about 280,000 hectares, and more areas are in the process of being included. These natural areas are chosen for their special biodiversity and include many different environments such as wetlands, grasslands, native woods and coasts. Moreover, the NGO Aves Uruguay, in collaboration with BirdLife International, runs the IBAs Program that has delimited up to 22 Important Bird Areas.
Uruguay's commitment to conservation is also reflected in its production of energy; 95% comes from renewable sources: windfarms, solar panels and dams.
These are some of the natural areas for birdwatching in Uruguay. All of them are IBAs and are integrated in the Protected Areas National System.
Wetlands of Rocha
In the east of the country, in the Department of Rocha, there is this Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO in 1976, integrating several lagoons, ocean coasts and wetlands. It also preserves the peculiar forests of the palm tree Butia capitata, known for its edible fruits used by local people to prepare jams and liquors. In these wetlands is present the largest rodent in the world, the Capybara. Here are also frequently seen some threatened bird species like the Marsh Seedeater, Black-and-white Monjita, Straight-billed Reedhaunter and Saffron-cowled Blackbird. Other nice birds to see are many species of Rails, like the Spotted Rail, Spot-flanked Rail, Giant Wood-Rail or the Plumbeous Rail.
Farrapos Wetlands and Islands of the Uruguay River
This National Park is located in the west of the country, in the Department of Río Negro. It protects an area of 20,205 hactares that includes islands, wetlands and native woods along the Uruguay River. It is a good place to watch different species of ducks like the Ringed Teal, Silver Teal or the Chiloe Wigeon; many members of the Furnariidae family (Oven Birds), the threatened Chestnut Seedeater; and a special tiny woodpecker, the White-barred Piculet.
At a bit more than 300 kms from Montevideo, in the Department of Treinta y Tres, in the Northeast of the territory, there is this Protected Landscape of pristine valleys where several streams converge and, due to topography, produce beautiful waterfalls of clear water. The vegetation is exuberant; trees grow in high density up to more than 20 meters and palm trees stand out over the top of the foliage. There are some marshes and grasslands around, so that increases the diversity of bird species.
Lunarejo Valley and Laureles Ravine
These are landscapes totally different from the rest of the country. Rivers flow through the highlands and abruptly fall into the ravines as beautiful waterfalls. The diversity of flora species is greater than any other place. There are many special bird species that can be observed here, like the Crane Hawk, Bicolored Hawk, Crested Black-Tyrant, Short-billed Canastero, or the Blue-tufted Starthroat.
Just against the border with Brazil, in the Department of Cerro Largo, there is an area of forests that present similar characteristics of the Atlantic Forests of this neighbour country. It has been recently added to the National System of Protected Areas. Many biological researches have been taking place here, resulting in some surprising records, like the feline Puma yagouaroundi. In terms of birds, it can be found here the Highland Elaenia, Yellow-billed Elaenia, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Brown Tinamou, Maroon-billed Parakeet, and many other species that belong to this special environment that finds its southern limit in this territory.
Rincón de Franquía
Right in the north of the country, in the triple border with Argentina and Brazil, there is this reserve where many new bird species have been recorded in recent years, and most of them are not found in other parts of the country. Among them are the Red-rumped Caciqu, Purple-throated Euphonia, Rufous Casiornis, Short-crested Flycatcher and Pearly-vented TodyTyrant. Other special birds found here are the Cream-backed Woodpecker and the Greater Ani.
Recommended book guides
Narosky & Yzurieta.
975 species illustrated, with 3-4 on each page, with multiple views. A short text is given to range or habitat, physical description and vocalization of the bird. Range maps: 1x2cm. Status data. Spanish or English.
A. B. Azpiroz.
Over 500 species of birds: Pampas birds of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, and all birds of Uruguay. Photographs with multiple views or plumages. 450 distribution maps; texts with diagnostic features, vocalizations, status, habitat and other relevant data. Spanish and English texts.
461 photographs of the total bird species recorded for Uruguay, with one view and fe-male additional photograph.
Distribution and general biological data. Not physical description of the birds is given. Updated taxonomy. Spanish and English texts.