Magellanic Plover – Birding the Patagonian Steppe


Vast grassy rolling hills, that at first sight seem empty and more like lifeless deserts, are actually, upon a closer look, full of birds scurrying between the grasses. In breaks in the wind you’ll hear a multitude of species singing their hearts out and doing arial displays. This is the predominante landscape along the Magellan Straight in which we’ll be immersed for the day, searching steppe lagoons for the Magellanic Plover.

The vast steppe is the perfect environment if you are a good runner, as in the case of the Darwin’s (Lesser) Rhea; over 1,5 meters tall, and a symbol of Patagonian culture. Small depressions between the grassy hills hide small lagoons that attract a variety of species, such as Silver Teal, Red Shoveler, Cinnamon Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, Buff-winged Cinclodes, and Chilean Flamingo.

One of the main targets for the day is the enigmatic Magellanic Plover, the only species in its family. It fairly localized to a specific type of lagoon and still little is known of its biology. We’ll visit one of its known breeding sites to enjoy this plump gray shorebird, with bright pink legs.

We’ll also visit the coastline of the Magellan Straight, looking for Magellanic Oystercatcher, Dolphin Gull, Chilean Skua, Flightless Steamer Duck and more.

During the afternoon we’ll visit a park close to the Argentine border, where a slight change in the steppe will produce species like Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Tawny-throated Dottorel, Austral Canastero, and Least Seedsnipe.

The itinerary of this day tour is quite flexible, ideal for people with limited time in Punta Arenas.

If you have more time, we also offer a more comprehensive tour of Patagonian birds.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
  • Activity Level Birding

Private trips can be organized on any day from October to March.



  • The enigmatic Magellanic Plover
  • Wide open Patagonian landscapes
  • A chance to see a great variety of steppe specialist species



  • Relaxed pace; short easy walks


 Ease of Birding

  • Most species show easily, with some trickier skulking species


  • Transport (1-3 SUV, 4-6 minivan)
  • Pick up/drop off at your hotel in Punta Arenas
  • English speaking guide with birding equipment
  • Snack (water, fruit, nuts, cereal bars)
  • Picnic
  • Park entrance fee
  • eBird checklists for the day’s stops

    Starting time: pick-up at your hotel in Punta Arenas around 6:30 a.m.

    Note that starting time may vary depending on time of sunrise.

    See map insert for an overview of the route and main hotspots visited during the tour.

    Ending time: drop-off at your hotel in Punta Arenas around 5:30 p.m.