Buenos Aires, Day Dos

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, Kim and Kenn write: Our friend Delores Cole (web guru for Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Ohio Young Birders Club) came in this morning, and walked out with us for another round at the Costanera Sur Nature Reserve. As indicated by the sign above, the reserve is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area.

A major Important Bird of this Area is the outlandish Guira Cuckoo. It looks weird enough standing still, but check out this video that Kim took of the bird calling and showing off (with authentic Latino music in the background):

A bird that we found foraging in the high traffic area along the edge of the reserve was the totally gorgeous Red-crested Cardinal. But, unlike most good-looking humans I've encountered, these doggone birds did NOT want to have their picture taken. I chased them up and down the sidewalk, generating ZERO good photos, but lots of laughs from Kenn & Delores, and the locals who delighted in watching the bird come in right next to me...until I raised the camera.

Eventually I got bored with the game and started people watching. That's how I spotted and photographed the much more cooperative Red-crested human, which looked remarkably like the bird that refused to have its picture taken! Here she is doing some foraging of her own:

Of course, as soon as I gave up and settled for a photo of a look-alike, the real thing came along and posed for me. Check out this stunner:

The Beautiful (and fussy!) Red-crested Cardinal

The most common hummingbird here was the Glittering-bellied Emerald (another name invented by museum ornithologists, trying to come up with something distinctive about yet another species of Chlorostilbon that looks pretty much like all the others). We often saw it feeding at the flowers of tree-tobacco (Nicotiana glauca). This is a great hummingbird plant in the southern USA and Mexico as well, but here in South America it's more likely to be a local native.

The trails through the park are filled with local people who come here to exercise. They certainly seem to enjoy the sun; Kenn was practically the only man there who was wearing a shirt. Some apparently come to exercise their bodies. Others appeared to be exorcizing any variety of demons.

Kenn had an interesting conversation with one of the locals who seemed to be doing a bit of both. A nice fella, who knew a bit about the birds, he, um, well, he didn't have much on in terms of clothing. But he sure knew a lot about Rufous Horneros! When he saw our binoculars, he stopped running, came straight over and pointed excitedly to a large nest above our heads. Kenn was too nice to tell him that we knew exactly what it was, and that we'd been standing there admiring it for several minutes. We're always thrilled when the locals seem to be aware and appreciative of their bird neighbors, and we didn't want to dampen his enthusiasm.

The conversation Kenn had with the guy was totally in Spanish, so I was pretty much out of the loop. After he jogged off, Kenn explained the conversation, referring to the guy as "The Naked Naturalist" which had me giggling like an idiot the rest of the day.

In case you don't remember the Rufous Hornero.....Here it is again.

And, here's its way cool nest.

See, it looks like an old oven, doesn't it?!

The Naked Naturalist moves on after giving us the lo-down on the
Rufous Hornero and its nest.


  1. Sounds like you are having a nice time on your trip. Are there any species you want to see above all the others?

  2. Thanks, Tucker. Here in northern Argentina, Kim really wants to see Rufescent Tiger-Heron. I'm hoping for Diademed Tanager, which I missed on previous trips. Once we get farther south and out to sea, I'm hoping to finally get a good look at Kerguelen Petrel, one of the fast-flying deep-sea birds that has eluded me (mostly) in the past. Kim is looking forward to Rockhopper Penguins in particular, but baby penguins of any sort are likely to be cause for excitement!

  3. Hahahaha, the Red-crested human looks soo much like the Red-crested Cardinal! lol That's awesome!

    Good luck on your target birds!
    I'd really love to get down to Central and South America someday. The birds down there are just amazing! (not that ours aren't of course. :D )

    Happy Birding! --Chris

  4. Thanks Chris. The birds here are pretty amazing! We're having a great time, trying to adjust to the heat after the brutal winter weather we left in Ohio, and getting pretty psyched about the Antarctic portion of the trip that's still ahead.

    We'e pretty wiped out tonight after another long day of birding, but we'll try to post an update tomorrow night.

    Thanks again!


  5. Love the comparison of the Red-crested Human and the Red-crested Cardinal. Very funny!

    The Rufous Hornero nest is way cool, but the story of the "Naked Naturalist" was the best part of this post.

    Have fun and take lots of pictures of baby penguins!


  6. LOL..some great observations...
    what amazingly colorful birds you are seeing1 Have a wonderful trip..i look forward to reading more about it.

  7. Hi Kathi & Dawn,

    Thanks for the comments! We're having such a blast. It's like, a million degress here. We're all sunburned and sweaty---and SOOO happy! It's great to be able to share these adventures with you.

    Kathi~ About the Naked Naturalist--omg, I was laughing so hard at Kenn when he said that! It still cracks me up--hmmm, maybe I shouldn't say "crack." : )

    Dawn, I could not believe my eyes when I saw that girl walk up looking exactly like the human version of the Red-crested Cardinal. I just couldn't resist getting a picture of her and sharing the comparison! Too funny!

    Birds are so fantastic, but it's people that make things fun for me!

    We're going to try and post something tonight about the last few days. Today we saw two Scarlet-headed Blackbirds, and I can't wait to tell you more about that! WOW!!

    Thanks again,

  8. Kim,
    I remember birding at Costanera Sur a few years ago and thinking that I should not wear shorts because the locals always seemed so dressed up and I didn't want to offend. Boy were we in for a surprise when we arrived. I about died in the heat and humidity (coming from Antarctica it was a bit of a shock)but the birds were great - one of my favorites was the Guira Cuckoo too. Hope you have a great trip.

  9. This is a fabulous post. The human counterpart to the Red-crested Cardinal is hilarious. I had a similarly tough time trying to get decent shots of Red-capped Cardinal in Guyana. Common everywhere but impossible to get an attractive shot. Yours rokks.


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