Bird fauna in Argentina: sea birds

Bird fauna in Argentina: sea birds

Several species of sea birds can be seen in Argentina. Among them: penguins, cormorants or oystercatchers.

Southern Rockhopper Penguin, Pingüino de penacho amarillo (Eudyptes chrysocome)

Southern rockhopper Penguin, in the penguin’s family, is characterized by its long yellow eyelashes ending in a crest of feather. Its remaining feather is black in the dorsal part and white in the ventral part. It devotes most of its time to fishing, except for the molt and reproduction period (from October to April). After that, it returns to solid ground to build its nest, usually on a cliff which climbs by small jumps. After thirty days of paternal protection, the calves are grouped in “nursery schools” and parents can return to the sea in search for food. This vulnerable specie may be found in Argentina in the Penguin Island, opposite Puerto Deseado.

Magellan penguin
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Magellan Penguin, Pingüino de Magallanes (Spheniscus magellanicus)

Although it belongs to a bird family, the Patagonian penguin-or Magellanic- cannot fly. It is not too tall (about 75 cm). While it behaves clumsy on solid ground, it is remarkably agile in water when in search for food (mollusks and crustaceans) to feed them and their calves. It has a black back and a white chest with two black stripes. Patagonian penguins live in pairs or in colonies to get more protection. Every year, from September to March, penguins return to Punta Tombo, south of Trelew and Península Valdés to give birth to two calves in November. The male arrives first to prepare the nest of the previous year under a shrub or a in an underground cave. The female arrives later and lays one or two eggs in October which are incubated for forty days. The couple takes turns to hatch and protect the nest from pedrators. The calves are born in November and in January start to molt and walk towards the sea. Once calves learn to swim and eat, the penguin family leaves toward the North, around March. Men and pollution, especially that of crude, are their main enemies. This specie is almost under threat.

Sooty Oystercatcher, Ostrero (Haematopus)

This small wading bird, is easily identifiable by its long red-orange beak in spatula shape, black and white plumage and pink paws. It may be found along the Patagonian coast, where it feeds on crustaceans. The sooty oystercatcher has yellow eyes and may also be found in the plateaus, close to water sources.

Cormorant, Cormorán (Phalacrocorax)

This sea bird, excellent swimmer and fish catcher, feeds on fish, crustaceans and seaweeds. It has a black back, a white chest and a long neck with an S shape. The female lays four blue eggs. The guano from the Patagonian cormorant’s colonies is recycled as fertilizer. A surprising event: a group has also been established in the Nahuel Huapi park, far from the sea.

Kelp Gull, Gaviota dominicana (Larus Dominicanus)

This white sea bird with black wings live in colonies along the Patagonian coasts, in Tierra del Fuego and in the lakes’ region. Its varied diet is composed of: fish, eggs and chicks…The gull sometimes lands on the southern right whales’ back to eat part of its skin. It has a funny call.

Petrel, Petrel (Procellariidae)

Closely related to albatross, petrels are sea animals easily adapted to cold weather and can travel long distances. It feeds on fish and crustaceans, usually moving around the ships’ wakes. The giant petrel is the most common in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. It is also a scavenger.