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Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina

Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa... Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 189-200 SHORTCOMMUNICATION June 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina 1,7,8,9 2,7,8 3,8 4,7 5,7,8 Ignacio Roesler , Santiago Imberti , Hernán E. Casañas , Pablo M. Hernández , Juan M. Klavins and 6,7 Luís G. Pagano IEGEBA-CONICET. Laboratorio de Ecología y Comportamiento Animal, Departamento de Ecología Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ambiente Sur. Rivadavia 780, Río Gallegos, Argentina. Aves Argentinas/AOP. Matheu 1246, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina. Ea. El Sauco, Provincial Road 41 s/n, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Av. Fundadores Bemberg s/n, Puerto Libertad (3378), Misiones, Argentina. Taller de Taxidermia. División Zoología de Vertebrados, Museo de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque s/n, La Plata (1900), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Grupo FALCO. www.grupofalco.com.ar. Proyecto Macá Tobiano / Hooded Grebe Project. www.salvemosalmacatobiano.org.ar. Corresponding author: roesler@ege.fcen.uba.ar Received on 12 November 2013. Accepted on 26 May 2014. ABSTRACT: Santa Cruz province is the second largest province in Argentina, and also the least populated. This province makes up the southern tip of continental Argentina. Althought it has low population density and is remote from big cities, in the past it received well-deserved attention from researchers. This was probably due to the presence of many interesting species, among them some threatened, with taxonomic singularities, and/or endemism. The goal of this work is to update knowledge of the distribution and natural history of 21 species from Santa Cruz, including five new to the province. KEYWORDS: Argentina, distribution, natural history, new records, Santa Cruz. INTRODUCTION habitat, the “monte desert” (Cabrera 1971). Most of the province is covered by Patagonian steppe, a known low Knowledge of the distribution and status of the birds of bird diversity habitat. The highest land bird diversity in Argentina has improved substantially since the 1990’s, these latitudes is found in the ecotone between the forest and the steppes, along the Andes. The Atlantic Ocean especially after the first edition of Narosky and Yzurieta’s (1987) guide “Birds of Argentina and Uruguay.” That coast is also important in contributing to biodiversity, improvement has had a noticeable impact on the quality with several species of Nearctic migrants that reach South and quantity of articles and short notes on distribution, America during the austral summer concentrating in the biology, and natural history, which increased even more area (Darrieu et al. 2008). This high coastal biodiversity tends to concentrate principally in rather small areas, like after the publication of the “Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Argentina” (Mazar Barnett and Pearman 2001). river estuaries or sheltered sites. These estuaries are also We base our work on the distribution of rare species important for austral migrants that spend their winter within the country on this last Checklist. there, including the critically endangered Hooded Grebe For Santa Cruz province, 229 species have been Podiceps gallardoi (Imberti et al. 2004; Roesler et al. 2012). Santa Cruz is the southernmost and second largest recorded (Darrieu et al. 2008, 2009a, 2009b). The diversity on the southern tip of the continent is a consequence of continental province of Argentina. Although it is the the mixture of several habitat types: Austral Nothofagus least populated region of the country and far away from forest, Patagonia steppe, Magellanic steppe, seashore, the city of Buenos Aires, where most of the important highland and lowland lakes and ponds, mountain top institutions for research and collections are located (e.g., Argentina Museum of Natural Sciences, the non-profit habitat, and the last remnants of the Argentinean endemic Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano Aves Argentinas/Asociación Ornitológica del Plata, etc.), This forest vanishes quickly to the east, giving way to a it has gained some attention regarding its fauna, mainly different ecotone of open and grassy habitat (for c. 20-30 because it holds some biologically important sites, like km), with scattered Nothofagus antarctica patches. Farther Los Glaciares National Park (hereafter NP), with the east, the rest of the province is dominated by a desert-like superb Perito Moreno Glacier and the Deseado River steppe, formed by a mosaic of short grasses, low bushes, estuary on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Another important and bare soil. In the southern portion (mostly below reason why Santa Cruz has managed to call the attention 51°S) the low elevation of the Andes allows the moisture of many naturalists and researchers from all over the of the winds to reach farther east, a factor that, combined world is the presence of populations of some of the most with lower temperatures and different soil conditions, threatened species in Argentina, for example, the critically favors a grassy (mostly Festuca sp.) steppe with no bare endangered Podiceps gallardoi, the national critically soil, known as Magellanic Steppe. endangered (and probably globally endangered) Ruddy- An important but little-known habitat is the steppe headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps, the long-thought- on the top of the sub-Andean basaltic plateaus (500 to to-be-extinct and nowadays globally vulnerable Austral 1,500 m.a.s.l.), present on the western portion of the Rail Rallus antarcticus, and the intriguing Magellanic province. Those plateaus form a parallel line east of the Plover Pluvianellus socialis, among others. All these rare Andes, and are dominated by grasslands, with important species have been the focus of several studies, most of them botanical influence from high Andean habitats. They regarding natural history, distribution, and conservation are considered part of the austral high Andes district trends (Fjeldså 1984, 1986; Beltran et al. 1992; Ferrari et (Cabrera 1971). Also, each plateau has a variable number al. 2008; Imberti et al. 2007; Roesler et al. 2012; Mazar of lakes and ponds, from just a few (i.e., Vizcachas, Barnett et al. 2013). Also, some important areas and even Viedma, and El Moro plateaus) up to over a thousand the complete province has been the focus of research (i.e., Strobel plateau). These wetlands also vary greatly (Imberti 2003; 2005; Darrieu et al. 2008; 2009a; 2009b), in size, and temporality; most of them are present just but its enormous size, the remoteness of the landscape, after the melting period, while others are permanent. The the inaccessibility of most of its sites, and the extreme lakes are used by a large number of water-bird species, climate conditions, still allow for gaps in the knowledge including Nearctic waders and flamingoes, but few of of rare taxa and natural history information of even more those species breed in the area (Lancelotti et al. 2009; IR, common species that are locally distributed or have low pers. obs.). In the past, the highland lakes were fishless, natural densities. but nowadays many of them have been stocked with at The goal of this work is to update the information least four species of exotic Salmonids, mostly Rainbow presented by Darrieu et al. (2008; 2009a; 2009b), and Trout Onchorhynchus mykiss (Lancelotti et al. 2009). improve the knowledge of the natural history of poorly Other important habitats are the valleys of the Santa known species. Among the information presented here Cruz, La Leona, Chico, Gallegos, and Deseado Rivers, are anecdotal data about breeding biology, seasonal among others. The flatlands of these valleys are temporarily movements, and habitat use. flooded after the melting period. This regular flooding cycle favors the presence of marshlands, some of them natural but some others are man made for cattle feeding. METHODS They are covered principally in lush grasses including occasional stands of taller rushes (Schoenoplectus sp.), and Study Area some other species of aquatic plants. They are of capital importance for the reproduction of many bird species, Santa Cruz province comprises the southernmost part including the vulnerable R. antarcticus (Mazar Barnett et of continental Argentina, located between 46° and 52°S al. 2013). These flatlands along rivers are also the chosen and 65° and 73°W. It is limited by the Atlantic Ocean sites where the local “estancias” (hereafter Ea.) have their to the east and the Andes mountain range on the west. houses, which are usually surrounded by planted trees, The climate is temperate cold with mean temperatures of also important for many bird species, even for northern 5°C. Precipitation varies from 100 to 250 mm in the drier vagrant species (i.e., Militello and Schieda 2011). steppes up to c. 3,000 mm along the Andes, and it occurs mainly during winter and spring seasons, falling as mostly Sampling Methods snow (Cabrera 1971). The Andes acts as a natural barrier for the predominant west and southwest wet winds from Within the context of the “Hooded Grebe Project” the Pacific Ocean, which release humidity mostly on the (“Proyecto Macá Tobiano”) we extensively monitored the western slopes. The little remnant moisture that reaches western half of Santa Cruz province (Fig. 1), between the eastern slopes favors the growth of Nothofagus forest January 2009 and October 2013. Most of the fieldwork along a fine strip (< 70 km) from the Chilean border. was conducted during the summer, from December Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano to March/April, but at least five winter campaigns and (2003), we found that the former published elevational many occasional outings where undertaken in May, range of 200 to 800 m.a.s.l. (Cabot 1992), or up to June, July, and August. During the five years of research 1,000 m.a.s.l. (Vuilleumier 1993), was underestimated, we accumulated over a 1,000 man/days of fieldwork. which could be a result of the difficulty accessing upper Also, regular winter censuses of Podiceps gallardoi on the plateau habitat. As mentioned for other tinamous, during three main estuaries of Santa Cruz allowed us to gather breeding season adult T. ingoufi seem to move in groups information about some migratory habits and some of three individuals (see records on Table 1). scattered records of uncommon species. We followed the systematic arrangement, taxonomy and English names Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi proposed by Remsen et al. (2013). On 10 February 2013 a group of 10 individuals (five breeding pairs) of the critically endangered Podiceps Species Accounts gallardoi was found at a 5-ha pond in Ea. Cerro Fortaleza, Mata Amarilla plateau (50°04'06"S, 71°13'42"W; 863 Patagonian Tinamou Tinamotis ingoufi m.a.s.l.; IR, LGP, PH, M. Bertinat). Four of the five nests Tinamotis ingoufi is uncommon but regular in Santa were successful and four chicks were seen on 5 April 2013 Cruz. Here we present 22 new records for the province (IR). This pond was the only one of the three suitable in (Table 1), most of them from the western part. The the area where the species was present, and was also the highest elevation records were obtained on the Buenos richest in water bird species. Aires plateau (northernmost plateau), at 1,220 m.a.s.l. Populations of Podiceps gallardoi seem to have on a grassy steppe (Table 1–13). Although many unique decreased greatly since the 1980’s (Roesler et al. 2012). records occurred in areas where we had done extensive After five years of research, the actual breeding range of fieldwork, we repeatedly gathered multiple observations Podiceps gallardoi is well known. During our fieldwork we from the same localities, which could indicate that this monitored over 400 suitable ponds and lakes on eleven species tends to live in established territories. Consistent plateaus and some extra-plateau lakes; this population at with Pozzi (1923), our data suggest that while courtship Mata Amarilla plateau was the only new site we found behavior may start as soon as September, the nesting where it was not recorded during the 1980’s and 1990’s period is mid-late November up to early-mid December (cf. Roesler et al. 2012; Codesido, unpubl. data). This (one couple in early December), with hatching in late record represents the second plateau east of National December and early January. The largest number of chicks Road (NR) 40 with a breeding population of Podiceps we detected was eight (the two adults with 15 young gallardoi, while the other plateau, Cerro Ventana, does could represent two independent groups), but most of the not hold individuals at present, given that most of the groups were 4-5 individuals. The biggest flock of adults lakes and ponds are dry (IR and PH, pers. obs.). Note was on the coastal area, during the winter period, which that the lake on Mata Amarilla plateau is less than 50 km could represent individuals from that area congregating away from the type locality of the species, Escarchados during the nonbreeding period, or an increase in the Lake, on Vizcachas plateau, where the species seems to number of individuals due to migration from the western have almost disappeared. part of the province, or even both phenomena combined. The occurrence of aggregations was mentioned by Pozzi Stripe-backed Bittern Ixobrychus involucris (1923), who reported groups of up to 50 individuals in On 16 January 2013, at 0650 h, one individual of autumn, also in the eastern part of the province (after Ixobrychus involucris was detected calling from the dense April). We did not record this species during our winter marshlands near the main houses of Ea. La Angostura surveys in western Santa Cruz province, nor on the slopes (48°37'43"S 70°38'50"W; 377 m.a.s.l.; LGP). Despite of the plateaus, but that could just be a consequence of the further searches in the same area, we failed to find it again low sampling effort put forth during that time of the year. (LGP, IR, JK). The latest inland record outside of the breeding season Accordingly to Darrieu et al. (2008) this represents was a medium/large flock of 17 individuals in mid-April the first record for the province. The marshland habitats (see Table 1–21), which could represent a winter group at Ea. La Angostura are extremely similar to those within similar to the ones observed on the coastal region. the known range of the bittern, and they hold most of This elusive species has been considered as the same species, so it is highly likely that the species uncommon but it is probably expanding due to the probably occurs at low densities, but is not a vagrant— expansion of the patches of “mata negra” (Verbena tridens) just overlooked. This is an important range extension of caused by overgrazing (Cabot 1992). Although we could nearly 1,000 km to the south from the regular known not fully support nor disclaim this hypothesis, it is range of the species, in La Pampa and Neuquén provinces interesting that groups were seen repeatedly in sites with (Narosky and Yzurieta 2010; Rodriguez Mata et al. 2006; large patches of mata negra. In concordance with Imberti Veiga et al. 2005). Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano TABLE 1. Observations of Patagonian Tinamou Tinamotis ingoufi in Santa Cruz province between 2009 and 2013. No. Elev. # Date Locality Coord. Comment Observer ind. (m.a.s.l.) 1 21/12/09 Ea. La Julia, 3 49°35'09"S 81 2 of them IR NR 288, Gdor. 69°34'12"W copulates Gregores. 2 03/01/10 NR 3, north of San 6 48°24'59"S 170 Adult and 5 IR, HC, H. Slongo Julian 67°43'50"W chicks 3 20/01/10 Ea. La Criolla, 12 47°46'44"S 770 Adults HC Asador plateau 71°01'34"W (Juveniles?) 4 10/12/10 Punta Gualichu, 3 50°17'36"S 190 Adults SI Calafate 72°11'37"W 5 06/01/11 Ea. Cerro Ventana, 2 48°54'20"S 450 Adults IR, HC, JK Cerro Ventana 70°21'50"W plateau 6 23/05/11 Puerto Deseado 23 47°21'06"S 162 Adults IR, SI, PH, D. Punta 66°51'30"W Fernández 7 13/10/11 RP 71, north 3 49°39'14"S 50 Adults SI of Gdor. L. 68°43'30"W Piedrabuena 8 12/10/11 Ea. La Estela, Lago 3 49°47'08''S 270 Adults SI Viedma 72°01'46''W 9 10/12/11 RP 71, north 3 49°39'14"S 50 Adults IR of Gdor. L. 68°43'30"W Piedrabuena 10 14/12/11 Ea. Las Coloradas, 9 48°47'42"S 800 Adult and 8 IR, PH, L. Fasola Strobel plateau 71°00'09"W chicks 11 11/02/12 Ea. La Criolla, 6 47°46'44"S 770 Adult and 5 IR, D.P. Fernández, Asador plateau 71°01'34"W chicks R. Lapido 12 16/02/12 Strobel plateau 3 48°27'26"S 943 Adult and 2 IR, HC 71°18'1"W young 13 15/01/12 Ea. 9 de Julio, 6 47°10'13"S 1,220 Adult and 5 IR, HC Buenos Aires plateau 71°12'26"W chicks 14 20/02/12 Ea. El Sauce, Buenos 7 47°14'18"S 770 Adult and 6 IR Aires plateau 71°11'03"W chicks 15 25/03/12 Ea. Las Coloradas, 5 48°47'42"S 800 Adults IR Strobel plateau 71°00'09"W (Juveniles?) 16 26/03/12 Ea. La Angostura 3 48°37'43"S 420 Adults IR 70°38'50"W 17 16/11/12 Strobel plateau 2 48°35'30"S 920 Adults IR, PH 71°14'06"W 18 Jan. 2013 Ea. 9 de Julio, 5 47°14'18"S 770 2 Adults; 3 chicks IR, PH Buenos Aires plateau 71°11'03"W 19 11/01/13 Strobel plateau 6 48°35'30"S 928 Adult and 5 IR, JK 71°14'06"W chicks 20 24/01/13 Asador plateau 17 47°46'44"S 770 2 adults and 15 LGP, L. Fasola 71°01'34"W young 21 31/01/13 RN 40, 10 km south 3 47°24'7"S 605 Adults IR, LGP, JK, S. of Bajo Caracoles 70°58'13"W Hardy, L. Fasola 22 17/04/13 Ea. El Sauco 17 47°20'41"S 520 Adults SI 71°14'19"W Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano Harris’s Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus Rallus antarcticus in only two new localities not reported One individual was observed on 9 February 2013, at the by Mazar Barnett et al. (2013). In January 2011 at least margins of La Lechuza Stream, next to where it flows one individual responded to playback on a marshland into the Santa Cruz River (50°11'57"S, 70°55'42"W; on provincial road (hereafter PR) 41, four km from the 145 m.a.s.l.; IR). The individual was in a patch of forest junction with NR 40 (47°20'58"S, 71°0'59"W; 455 dominated by Salix sp. and Populus sp. in an area of m.a.s.l.; SI, IR). In September 2013 one individual on abandoned houses of Ea. Condor Cliff. It was a first year a small marsh 20 km north of Río Gallegos on the side individual, with completely marked underparts, and no of NR 3 was observed (SI, PH). We visited the PR 41 rufous on the thighs. Further searches during the second marshland on several posterior occasions (seasons 2012 week of February didn’t detect the species (IR, LGP). and 2013) but no rails were ever detected (IR). The This observation represents the third record for Santa NR 3 marshland had rails at every successive visit (SI). Cruz province, the first being an individual photographed We also looked for the rail in several other suitable sites at Río Gallegos city (Alvarado et al. 2009) and another unsuccessfully (Table 2). individual (without details) at Ea. La Angostura (Darrieu Probably the most interesting finding during our et al. 2009b). The individual from Río Gallegos was also fieldwork was that all sites with adequate habitat (Table a juvenile and remained in that area for a long period. 2) hold populations of American mink Neovison vison Probably the species’ populations are spreading south (Fasola and Roesler, unpubl. data.). It is yet unknown following human-planted woodlands around ranches and the effect of this invasive predator on R. antarcticus cities. These individuals could represent a dispersal of populations, but it has been considered one of the main juveniles from nearby areas where the species is frequent, potential threats to populations for some time (Fraga most likely from southeastern Chubut and Río Negro 2000; Mazar Barnett et al. 2013). It is well known that the provinces (IR, pers. obs.). Parabuteo unicinctus seems to American mink has strong negative effects on species that be increasing its distributional range across Argentina, are already declining, being somehow the final stroke for following cities and other forested areas (IR and LGP, some weak populations, such as the Water Vole Arvicola pers. obs.; SH Seipke, pers. comm.). The only raptor amphibius (Barreto et al. 1998). The present distribution census conducted in the area did not mention the species of American mink is now known to be much more south of La Pampa province (Olrog 1979). extensive than previously thought (Fasola and Roesler, unpubl. data), thus proper research is urgently needed to Andean Gull Chroicocephalus serranus assess the real threat posed by N. vison. On 19 December 2009 two individuals of Chroicocephalus serranus in breeding plumage were observed flying over Picazuro Pigeon Patagioenas picazuro the marshes on the banks of the Chico River at Ea. La On 18 February 2013 one individual of Patagioenas Angostura (IR). These two individuals were part of a picazuro was observed in a poplar (Populus sp.) and mixed gull group including individuals of Brown-hooded willow (Salix sp.) implanted forest, next to the Chalía Gull C. maculipennis, allowing direct comparison in the River valley (49°29'3"S, 71°37'44"W – 262 m.a.s.l.), field. They differ from the previous species by the color 18 km (straight line) northwest of Tres Lagos town (IR). pattern of the wings, with almost entirely black primaries The individual was in a group of the more common and (which makes it look darker than in C. maculipennis) widespread Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata). with a white spot on the sub-terminal portion of the last Although the P. picazuro is one of the most abundant primaries. In later visits to the site (January 2010) we pigeon in open (and less open) habitats of central and failed to detect C. serranus (IR, HC). northern Argentina, this is the first observation for Santa There are no previous records of this species for Cruz province (Darrieu et al. 2008; 2009b). This species, Santa Cruz (Darrieu et al. 2008, 2009b) or Chubut and probably Z. auriculata, is expanding its range to (Schulenberg 2010) provinces; the nearest known the south, and becoming more abundant following the populations are on Neuquén province (Veiga et al. expansion of croplands and increase of grain production. 2005). On the western side of the Andes (Chile), the In Patagonia, vagrants or rare species from more humid species reaches further to the south, to the latitude of Río areas tend to be associated with human settlements, Negro province (Jaramillo 2003; Schulenberg 2010). It is normally with cities or man-made forest in ranches or probable that the Andean Gull is much more frequent in “puestos” (small houses in isolated areas of the ranches— lakes and marshlands of northern Patagonia, but might IR, pers. obs.). The observation of P. picazuro could either be overlooked because its plumage is similar to the much represent a sign of recent colonization in the area or just more common C. maculipennis. a vagrant individual. Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus Miners Geositta spp. After five seasons of fieldwork in Santa Cruz we found Three species of Miners inhabit western Santa Cruz Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano province. Their habitat is mostly well separated. The habitats, being common up to 800 m.a.s.l., mostly in Rufous-banded Miner G. rufipennis is common in rocky bushy habitats with less open ground. The populations places on the slopes of plateaus or in basaltic formations, of this species migrate to northern and central Argentina, principally around lakes or ponds. It seems to prefer areas disappearing from Santa Cruz by late April or early May. with higher cliffs, including sedimentary formations The Rufous-banded Miner has been previously between 400 to 900 m.a.s.l., becoming rarer both in recorded at just eight localities in Santa Cruz, including lower and higher elevations. The southernmost area one record in the El Turbio area, which represents the where the species is common is in the central part of Los southernmost record for the species (Darrieu et al. Glaciares NP, the access to the Guanaco area (49°20'01"S 2009a). The lack of other previous records is possibly due 72°52'55"W – 403 m.a.s.l.; SI). During early autumn to the inaccessibility of the upper plateau habitat, where and winter this species appears in open areas at lower the species is fairly common to common. The other two elevations in nearby areas of the plateaus, down to 300 species are well known for the province (Darrieu et al. m.a.s.l. The Short-billed Miner G. antarctica is the most 2009a), but there is scant information about habitat use common Miner on the higher parts of plateaus, up to and microhabitat preferences. 1,600 m.a.s.l., but also inhabits lower areas (down to sea level) during the breeding season and it is found there in Straight-billed Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus wintering flocks as well. It seems to prefer grassy and very ruficaudus open habitats, with few or no bushes, including areas The Ochetorhynchus ruficaudus was first detected in with almost no vegetation at all. In early March it forms the province on 6 January 2010 at El Moro plateau flocks of 100 (or more) individuals, which disappear (49°04'40"S 71°57'41"W – 1,126 m.a.s.l.), when at least from the highland plateaus by late march. Lastly, the two individuals were seen in a rocky gorge (HC, IR). On Common Miner G. cunicularia is more widespread than that occasion, a nest with similar characteristics to the the previous two species, and although it overlaps in ones described for the species was detected in the area (IR, distribution with both of them, it seems to prefer lowland pers. obs.). On 23 January 2011 another two individuals TABLE 2. List of sites where searches of Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus were unsuccessful between 2009-2013. Elev. # Date Locality Coord. Comment Obs. (a.s.l.) 15/03/09 Ea. La Federica, 49°01'16"S 260 Extremely good habitat. More searches are SI San Martín Lake 72°14'34"W necessary. American mink was detected. 05/01/11 Ea. Cerro Ventana 48°57'30"S 236 This place was searched successfully by Mazar HC, JK, 70°13'39"W Barnett et al. (2013). Mink found near this IR locality. 15/12/12 Ea. La Verde 48°26'47"S 455 Small fragment of habitat, but close to La IR, PH, L. 70°32'10"W Angostura, one of the most important spots Fasola for the rail. American mink (Neovison vison) was detected on the nearby Río Chico. 11/02/12 Ea. Valle 47°04'55"S 457 Although not in Argentina, this area holds HC, SI, IR Chacabuco, XI 72°23'37"W massive extentions of habitat next to the Región, Chile international border. The presence of American mink was detected. 23/12/12 Ea. El Sauco 47°20'41"S 278 Few patches of good habitat. We detected the IR 71°14'19"W presence of American mink. Some patches were overgrazed by cows and horses. 13/03/13 Ea. San Carlos, 46°36'01"S 490 Massive patch of good habitat. We detected IR, L. Deseado Valley 70°42'32"W the presence of American mink. Fasola 02/06/13 Ea. Las Tunas, 48°49'09"S 422 0.5 ha of good marshlands. The search was IR, J. Cardiel Lake 71°07'23"W made in early winter, but the marshland was Lancelotti. not frozen. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano were detected on a rocky area covered with small bushes ovenbird nest constructed with sticks, grasses, and had at the Cardiel Chico plateau (49°01'18"S 71°53'18"W – plastics on its interior (entrance opening diameter = 6 cm; 1,154 m.a.s.l.; IR, HC, SI, JK), a mere 10-km straight- tunnel and chamber length = 25 cm). The second nest line distance from the first locality. This plateau is was found at Ea. La Alice – at ‘El Galpón’ (50°20'57"S the western part of the greater Siberia plateau. On 13 72°31'32"W – 187 m.a.s.l.), on 26 September 2009. This December 2011 a pair was seen (and photographed) last was under construction and both individuals were on the Ea. Vega del Osco, along the Barrancoso River, carrying feathers. Single records of individuals far from the Strobel plateau (48°29'25"S 71°17'06"W – 911 m.a.s.l.; econtonal habitat are: one individual at Ea. La Angostura, IR, PH, L. Fasola). They were on a rocky wall covered 22 March 2011 (SI); one individual at ‘El Frigorífico’, with bushes of mata negra (Verbena tridens) and calafate Chico River estuary (49°55'45"S 68°35'15"W – 45 (Berberis spp.). On 7 March 2012 one individual was m.a.s.l.), 9 June 2011 (SI); and lastly, a single individual seen (and photographed) on a bare rocky wall at El Islote seen at the grasslands of Ea. Vega del Osco (48°29'14"S Lake, Strobel plateau (48°38'15"S 71°24'51"W – 1,100 71°17'6"W – 900 m.a.s.l.), 27 March 2013 (IR). m.a.s.l.; IR, G. Aprile). During January-March 2013 at Although the species is common in the ecotonal least one individual was detected on several occasions on a habitat of the western part of the province, these records rocky wall on the C199 Lake, Siberia plateau (49°01'29"S are at the edge of its formerly known distribution 71°44'00"W – 1,030 m.a.s.l.; JK, IR, LGP, SI). Lastly, on (Darrieu et al. 2009a). The biology of this canastero is 10 October 2013 a pair was observed on a rocky outcrop poorly known, therefore the information presented near provincial route 41 (47º15'52"S 71º42'17"W – 550 here, although anecdotal, adds some data that improves m.a.s.l.). That last record is the lowest elevation where our understanding on the breeding behavior of this it had been recorded within the study area, and may uncommon species. The observation at Ea. Vega del represent an elevational movement, considering the early Osco represents the first record in the grasslands of the date (SI). All localities are shown in Figure 2. highland plateaus. These records represent the first mentions for Santa Cruz province (Darrieu et al. 2009a). The distribution of Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola O. ruficaudus along the Andes is probably a continuum capistratus along the sub-Andean plateaus of western Patagonia. On 19 January 2011 a large flock of around 100 The lack of records may be a consequence of the individuals of Muscisaxicola capistratus was found at a large inaccessibility of this habitat. All (but one) of our records patch of grasslands in Perito Moreno NP (47°46'18"S were obtained in localities above (or just around) 1,000 72°05'25"W – 898 m.a.s.l.; IR, HC, JK). Principally m.a.s.l., indicating that it probably does not inhabit lower juveniles composed this flock. The juveniles were elevations during the breeding period. identified by the lack of the contrasting regular pattern of the adults, with less-intense cinnamon coloration on Thorn-tailed Raydito Aphrastura spinicauda the belly, less-defined black on the forehead, and smaller One individual was detected at Punta Bustamante, at the rufous patch on the crown. mouth of the Gallegos Estuary on the Atlantic Ocean Although this is a single record of a big flock, coast (51°36'36"S 69°00'39"W – 3 m.a.s.l.), feeding it is interesting due to the early date in the season around the base of some bushes on 18 May 2010 (SI). (mid summer). This tyrant seems to be one of the first Low Patagonian Steppe covers the site, with absence of migratory species that leaves the region, particularly the nearby patches of forest or any tree vegetation. highland plateaus where it breeds. Also it is interesting Although the species is fairly common in open the fact that this ground-tyrant is one of the species that steppe habitat in some parts of its distribution (Fjeldså moves farther north, reaching areas of central Andes, and Krabbe 1990), it does not have any known regular northwestern Argentina and Bolivia (Fjeldså and Krabbe movements or migration, and there are hardly any 1990). Although it is probably the most common tyrant records of the species away from this type of habitat in of the highland plateaus of western Santa Cruz, there is Santa Cruz (Darrieu et al. 2009a). This record is the first almost no information about movements and population for the eastern part of the province and the first published dynamics. for the continental Atlantic Ocean coast. Southern Martin Progne elegans Austral Canastero Asthenes anthoides During our fieldwork we found that Progne elegans is a Two nests were found in Santa Cruz province: one regular summer reproductive visitor of Perito Moreno (probably abandoned) at Reserva Costera Urbana, in and Bajo Caracoles towns, and within the town limits Río Gallegos (51°38'29"S 69°09'55"W – 4 m.a.s.l.), on the species seems to be present at abundances typical of 11 April 2009 in the bottom part of a ‘mata verde’ bush other localities in northern Patagonia (IR, pers. obs.). (Lepidophyllum cupressiforme). This nest was a typical In those localities it is found from mid/late November Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano FIGURE 1. Map of Santa Cruz province with important sites. Dark grey, plateaus of western Santa Cruz province: 1) Buenos Aires; 2) Asador (north, central, and southern); 3) Strobel; 4) Cerro Ventana; 5) Siberia; 6) El Moro; 7) Viedma or del Tobiano; 8) La Gringa Lake; 9) Mata Amarilla; 10) Vizcachas. Light grey, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Santa Cruz. Medium grey, major lakes. Black dots, important locations mentioned in the text: A) Los Antiguos; B) Perito Moreno; C) Ea. La Angostura; D) Gobernador Gregores; E) El Chaltén; F) La Lechuza Stream, Mata Amarilla plateau. FIGURE 2. Records of Straight-billed Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus ruficaudus, grey dots (arranged south-north): 1) El Moro plateau; 2) Cardiel Chico; 3) C199 Lake; 4) El Islote Lake; 5) Ea. Vega del Osco; 6) RP 41. Greater Yellow Finch Sicalis auriventris distribution: open line area shows the continuous distribution and black stars indicate isolated records: A) La Lechuza Stream, Mata Amarilla plateau; B) Los Baguales massif; C) Los Morros. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano to late March. It is also regular at the cliffs of the Ecker localities are shown in Figure 3. River valley, at Ea. La Vizcaína and Ea. Rincon de Piedra (47º07'21"S 70º53'25"W – 704 m.a.s.l.), but with no Bank Swallow Riparia riparia more than 2-3 pairs every season. We also obtained four One pair was observed at S94 Lake, on Strobel plateau records from three new localities: a pair at ‘puesto de (48°35'33"S 71°14'11"W – 916 m.a.s.l.; JK, HC, IR), veranda’ (‘puesto’ used during the summer season) in the on 11 January 2011 (Figure 3). The individuals were Ea. 9 de Julio (47°06'53"S 71°09'10"W – 1,196 m.a.s.l.), in a mixed group of swallows, which included Chilean on 15 January 2012 (IR, H. Slongo); one individual seen Swallow Tachycineta meyeni and Blue-and-White Swallow on 20 December 2012 (IR) and 18 January of 2013 Pygochelidon cyanoleuca. (probably the same; JK) at Ea. El Sauco; three individuals This observation represents the fourth published (two males and a female) seen on 16 January 2013 at Ea. record for the province (Darrieu et al. 2009a), although La Angostura (LGP, JK, IR); one male at a marshland there are several scattered unpublished observations next to the NR 40 (at the intersection with RP 41) (S. Sturzenbaun and A. Morgenthaler, pers. comm.). (47°21'00"S 71°00'32"W – 457 m.a.s.l.). It is interesting that R. riparia is also rare in northern The former known distribution of P. elegans in Santa Patagonian provinces, like Chubut and Río Negro, with Cruz province was restricted to the Deseado River valley, only one published record (Kirwan 2002). and cities north of it, with just three localities south of that area, mostly restricted to the eastern and central part Hellmayr’s Pipit Anthus hellmayri of the province. Our records suggest that it is actually During our fieldwork we detected this species on only widespread in the west, probably associated with wooded three occasions: one individual displaying at El Chaltén areas around ranches. The new southernmost record is (49°19'49"S 72°53'34"W – 950 m.a.s.l.) on 21 December that from Ea. La Angostura, but it probably can also be 2009 (IR); at least one individual displaying on several found at Gobernador Gregores town and other ranches occasions during December 2011 and January 2012 at farther south, along the Chico River valley. All the known Ea. La Vizcaína (47°07'29"S 70°56'31"W – 780 m.a.s.l.), FIGURE 3. Map showing the distribution of Southern Martin Progne elegans and Bank Swallow Riparia riparia in Santa Cruz province. Grey dots indicate localities previously mentioned for P. elegans by Darrieu et al (2009a). New localities for P. elegans (black stars): 1) Perito Moreno; 2) Bajo Caracoles; 3) Ecker River valley; 4) puesto at Ea. 9 de Julio; 5) Ea. El Sauco; 6) Ea. La Angostura; 7) marshland at RN 40. The white square indicates the locality of R. riparia at Strobel plateau. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano Buenos Aires plateau (IR); and at least two individuals south on the south side of Baguales massif, Viscachas displaying at Ea. La Victorina (48°59'43"S 71°30'28"W plateau (50°54'17"S 72°10'29"W – 328 m.a.s.l.) and at – 580 m.a.s.l.), La Siberia plateau, on November 2012 the volcanic formations known as ‘Los Morros’ in Ea. (IR, PH). Glencross (51°44'54"S 71°32'19"W – 244 m.a.s.l.; SI), Although Hellmayr’s Pipit has few published records near the border with Chile. Estimated distribution in for the province, most of them are from the southern and Santa Cruz is showed in Figure 2. eastern part. These records along the plateaus of western As mentioned above, the Sicalis auriventris is one of Santa Cruz may reflect that it is more widespread than the most common finches of the upper plateau habitat previously thought. All our records were obtained on in Santa Cruz province, being present in almost all the wet, tall (> 30 cm), dense grasslands, mostly on ‘vegas’ basaltic lakes, and in most rocky areas visited. Under 500 (small patches of wet areas with short vegetation) without m.a.s.l. it becomes much rarer, at least in the northern part cattle. Those ‘vegas’ could be either natural or artificial, of the province, and this could be the reason why it was and are created or maintained as important areas for first mentioned for the province in 2003 (Imberti 2003) cattle feeding. The repeated observation of displaying and only mentioned for six further localities (Darrieu et individuals may indicate that the species reproduces in al. 2009a), while much less abundant in western Santa those localities. Cruz, the Patagonian Yellow Finch Sicalis lebruni, is well known due to it inhabits lowlands steppes. The scarcity Blue-and-Yellow Tanager Pipraeidea bonariensis of past records is certainly due to the inaccessibility of the On 16 January 2013 one individual, probably a young habitat where S. auriventris mainly inhabits, being most male, was detected on the marshlands close to the houses of the places mentioned by Darrieu et al. (2009a) at low of Ea. La Angostura. Shortly after, it flew towards the elevation. It is interesting that the lowest records are the implanted woods around the houses of the ranch, and we ones in the southern part of the province. could not locate it again. Our conclusion about the age and sex was based on Grassland Yellow Finch Sicalis luteola the overall coloration, but especially due to head pattern, One individual was detected in a grassland habitat next which had a tinge of light blue, and the darker coloration to the extensive marshlands of Ea. La Angostura, on 19 on wings coverts. This record represents the first for Santa December 2009 (IR). Cruz province (Darrieu et al. 2009a). The fact that this The species is common elsewhere in northern probably was a young male may indicate that it was a Argentina, but it has only five previously known localities vagrant individual dispersing from its breeding grounds. in Santa Cruz province (Imberti 2003; Darrieu et al. 2009a), two of them close to the location of our record. It Greater Yellow Finch Sicalis auriventris is odd that we found a lonely individual of this gregarious This is one of the most common finch species in areas species, thus it could be a vagrant individual. over 700 m.a.s.l. principally around rocky cliffs. It is principally associated with plateau edges, basaltic lagoons, Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis and rocky formations. We found it on all the plateaus During our fieldwork we found this widespread we worked. Three juveniles were seen and photographed cowbird on three occasions: a pair observed flying over using a crevasse on 7 January 2013 at a lake on La Siberia the farmland area of Los Antiguos city (46°33'03"S plateau (49°05'27"S 71°34'71"W – 999 m.a.s.l.; SI, 71°36'44"W – 212 m.a.s.l.), on 24 January 2011 (IR); LGP, and H. Rodriguez Goñi). Apparently they were at least another two in Ea. El Rincón (46°56'24"S using it as a roosting place. Two nests were detected in 70°48'55"W – 725 m.a.s.l.), 23 January 2012 (SI); and early January 2013 on C199 Lake, also at Siberia plateau lastly, three individuals (two males and a female) observed (49°01'29"S 71°44'00"W – 1,030 m.a.s.l.; LGP, JK, SI, also in Los Antiguos city on 11 October 2013 (HC). IR). One of them was located 6 m above the ground on Molothrus bonariensis seems to be spreading south, a flat rock wedged inside a crevasse of a 17-m long cliff. and it has already reached the northern area of Los It was an open cup made with grass and it had 3 chicks. Glaciares NP (Imberti 2005; Darrieu et al. 2009a) where Fledglings left the nest on the 2 February 2013. The other it is now observed regularly. It is also regular on the nest was located on the same rocky outcrop wall, about Atlantic Ocean coast at Piedra Buena city (N. Moreno, 100 m from the first one. It contained two chicks, but pers. comm. 2009) and in Monte León NP (E. Militello, this one was not monitored. There are several scattered pers. comm.). There are also records further south in records on the southernmost plateaus, but during our Chile (Venegas and Sielfeld 1998). It seems that either research we only found the species in a gorge of La its population remains restricted to human settlements Lechuza Stream, in Ea. Cerro Fortaleza, Mata Amarilla or it has not succeeded establishing a regular population plateau (50°04'06"S 71°13'42"W – 863 m.a.s.l.) in in the province. Although we regularly visited farmlands February 2013 (IR). However, there are records further and towns during our surveys, we failed to obtain further Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano observations, including in those areas where the species M. McNamara, M. Figuera Tomas, N. Cossa, F. Idoeta, S. has already been seen (i.e., Perito Moreno NP). Further Sturzenbaun, and H. Rodriguez Goñi. Also, this fieldwork records will be necessary to assess the situation of the wouldn’t be possible without the friendship of Los Vascos species in Santa Cruz. Garitaonandia from Ea. La Vizcaína (including Norma and Piri), A.S. Jara, Pancho Chicaguara, E. Sandoval, J. Arriagada, Pajarito, A. Rojo (Ea. Punta del Lago), Tonchi DISCUSSION and María (Ea. La Angostura), Rubén and Silvia (Ea. Cerro Fortaleza), Ariela (Kau Yatun), L. Bernacchi, L. The observations presented here contribute to the Montenegro (APN), Celso (Ea. Las Tunas), Diego (Ea. La knowledge of the distribution and natural history of Silvina), and many others. the birds of Santa Cruz. We presented data of 21 rare This project was supported by the Neotropical or threatened species, five of which were new to the Bird Club, Pro-Natura Japan, Becas Conservar La province. Many of the observations of the poorly known Argentina (Aves Argentinas/AOP), Canadian Fish (or new) species for the province could represent actual and Wildlife Service, Conservation, Research and range expansions of their populations, principally Educational Opportunities International (CREOI), in the cases of the Molothrus bonariensis, Patagioenas Birder’s Exchange, Idea Wild, Secretaría de Ambiente picazuro, and Parabuteo unicinctus. The new localities y Desarrollo Sustentable de la Nación, Subsecretaría de for two threatened species, Podiceps gallardoi and Rallus Medio Ambiente de Santa Cruz, Fundación Flora y Fauna antarcticus, brings hope for the future, indicating that Argentina, Proyecto Jensen de Humedales Altoandinos perhaps there are still some other unknown localities. In and Birdlife International, Mohamed Bin Zayed the case of Podiceps gallardoi, the lake at Mata Amarilla Fundation, CONICET, International Conservation plateau is of capital importance because it is the closest to Fund of Canada, and Seriema Nature Tours. Canadian the almost extinct population that was initially found on Wildlife Service/Environment Canada provided funds the Vizcachas plateau (Roesler et al. 2012). In the case of for the surveys and also a special grant for publishing Rallus antarcticus, the relationship between unsuccessful this paper. This is the Hooded Grebe Project’s scientific searches in proper habitats and the presence of American publication #5. mink must be studied in a deeper way. The distribution of Lastly we wish to thank to Cathy Bechtoldt and the American mink seems to be much more extensive than another two anonymous reviewers for the comments previously thought within continental Patagonia (Fasola and suggestion that improved substantially this paper. and Roesler, unpubl. data), so the impact of this invasive We really want to thank to Luciano Naka who was an species on the rail’s population could be bigger than important part of this paper, with his support and his previously thought (Mazar Barnett et al. 2013). Further understanding, and for the commitment to work on this studies on the avifauna of Santa Cruz will clarify the special issue in honor to our loved friend, Juan. situation of several of the species mentioned in this article, but we consider that special emphasis must be given to those areas that still support rare and threatened species. REFERENCES Alvarado, S.; López, R.; Asueta, R.; McNamara, M. & Imberti, S. 2009. 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Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina

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Abstract

Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 189-200 SHORTCOMMUNICATION June 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina 1,7,8,9 2,7,8 3,8 4,7 5,7,8 Ignacio Roesler , Santiago Imberti , Hernán E. Casañas , Pablo M. Hernández , Juan M. Klavins and 6,7 Luís G. Pagano IEGEBA-CONICET. Laboratorio de Ecología y Comportamiento Animal, Departamento de Ecología Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ambiente Sur. Rivadavia 780, Río Gallegos, Argentina. Aves Argentinas/AOP. Matheu 1246, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina. Ea. El Sauco, Provincial Road 41 s/n, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Av. Fundadores Bemberg s/n, Puerto Libertad (3378), Misiones, Argentina. Taller de Taxidermia. División Zoología de Vertebrados, Museo de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque s/n, La Plata (1900), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Grupo FALCO. www.grupofalco.com.ar. Proyecto Macá Tobiano / Hooded Grebe Project. www.salvemosalmacatobiano.org.ar. Corresponding author: roesler@ege.fcen.uba.ar Received on 12 November 2013. Accepted on 26 May 2014. ABSTRACT: Santa Cruz province is the second largest province in Argentina, and also the least populated. This province makes up the southern tip of continental Argentina. Althought it has low population density and is remote from big cities, in the past it received well-deserved attention from researchers. This was probably due to the presence of many interesting species, among them some threatened, with taxonomic singularities, and/or endemism. The goal of this work is to update knowledge of the distribution and natural history of 21 species from Santa Cruz, including five new to the province. KEYWORDS: Argentina, distribution, natural history, new records, Santa Cruz. INTRODUCTION habitat, the “monte desert” (Cabrera 1971). Most of the province is covered by Patagonian steppe, a known low Knowledge of the distribution and status of the birds of bird diversity habitat. The highest land bird diversity in Argentina has improved substantially since the 1990’s, these latitudes is found in the ecotone between the forest and the steppes, along the Andes. The Atlantic Ocean especially after the first edition of Narosky and Yzurieta’s (1987) guide “Birds of Argentina and Uruguay.” That coast is also important in contributing to biodiversity, improvement has had a noticeable impact on the quality with several species of Nearctic migrants that reach South and quantity of articles and short notes on distribution, America during the austral summer concentrating in the biology, and natural history, which increased even more area (Darrieu et al. 2008). This high coastal biodiversity tends to concentrate principally in rather small areas, like after the publication of the “Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Argentina” (Mazar Barnett and Pearman 2001). river estuaries or sheltered sites. These estuaries are also We base our work on the distribution of rare species important for austral migrants that spend their winter within the country on this last Checklist. there, including the critically endangered Hooded Grebe For Santa Cruz province, 229 species have been Podiceps gallardoi (Imberti et al. 2004; Roesler et al. 2012). Santa Cruz is the southernmost and second largest recorded (Darrieu et al. 2008, 2009a, 2009b). The diversity on the southern tip of the continent is a consequence of continental province of Argentina. Although it is the the mixture of several habitat types: Austral Nothofagus least populated region of the country and far away from forest, Patagonia steppe, Magellanic steppe, seashore, the city of Buenos Aires, where most of the important highland and lowland lakes and ponds, mountain top institutions for research and collections are located (e.g., Argentina Museum of Natural Sciences, the non-profit habitat, and the last remnants of the Argentinean endemic Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano Aves Argentinas/Asociación Ornitológica del Plata, etc.), This forest vanishes quickly to the east, giving way to a it has gained some attention regarding its fauna, mainly different ecotone of open and grassy habitat (for c. 20-30 because it holds some biologically important sites, like km), with scattered Nothofagus antarctica patches. Farther Los Glaciares National Park (hereafter NP), with the east, the rest of the province is dominated by a desert-like superb Perito Moreno Glacier and the Deseado River steppe, formed by a mosaic of short grasses, low bushes, estuary on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Another important and bare soil. In the southern portion (mostly below reason why Santa Cruz has managed to call the attention 51°S) the low elevation of the Andes allows the moisture of many naturalists and researchers from all over the of the winds to reach farther east, a factor that, combined world is the presence of populations of some of the most with lower temperatures and different soil conditions, threatened species in Argentina, for example, the critically favors a grassy (mostly Festuca sp.) steppe with no bare endangered Podiceps gallardoi, the national critically soil, known as Magellanic Steppe. endangered (and probably globally endangered) Ruddy- An important but little-known habitat is the steppe headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps, the long-thought- on the top of the sub-Andean basaltic plateaus (500 to to-be-extinct and nowadays globally vulnerable Austral 1,500 m.a.s.l.), present on the western portion of the Rail Rallus antarcticus, and the intriguing Magellanic province. Those plateaus form a parallel line east of the Plover Pluvianellus socialis, among others. All these rare Andes, and are dominated by grasslands, with important species have been the focus of several studies, most of them botanical influence from high Andean habitats. They regarding natural history, distribution, and conservation are considered part of the austral high Andes district trends (Fjeldså 1984, 1986; Beltran et al. 1992; Ferrari et (Cabrera 1971). Also, each plateau has a variable number al. 2008; Imberti et al. 2007; Roesler et al. 2012; Mazar of lakes and ponds, from just a few (i.e., Vizcachas, Barnett et al. 2013). Also, some important areas and even Viedma, and El Moro plateaus) up to over a thousand the complete province has been the focus of research (i.e., Strobel plateau). These wetlands also vary greatly (Imberti 2003; 2005; Darrieu et al. 2008; 2009a; 2009b), in size, and temporality; most of them are present just but its enormous size, the remoteness of the landscape, after the melting period, while others are permanent. The the inaccessibility of most of its sites, and the extreme lakes are used by a large number of water-bird species, climate conditions, still allow for gaps in the knowledge including Nearctic waders and flamingoes, but few of of rare taxa and natural history information of even more those species breed in the area (Lancelotti et al. 2009; IR, common species that are locally distributed or have low pers. obs.). In the past, the highland lakes were fishless, natural densities. but nowadays many of them have been stocked with at The goal of this work is to update the information least four species of exotic Salmonids, mostly Rainbow presented by Darrieu et al. (2008; 2009a; 2009b), and Trout Onchorhynchus mykiss (Lancelotti et al. 2009). improve the knowledge of the natural history of poorly Other important habitats are the valleys of the Santa known species. Among the information presented here Cruz, La Leona, Chico, Gallegos, and Deseado Rivers, are anecdotal data about breeding biology, seasonal among others. The flatlands of these valleys are temporarily movements, and habitat use. flooded after the melting period. This regular flooding cycle favors the presence of marshlands, some of them natural but some others are man made for cattle feeding. METHODS They are covered principally in lush grasses including occasional stands of taller rushes (Schoenoplectus sp.), and Study Area some other species of aquatic plants. They are of capital importance for the reproduction of many bird species, Santa Cruz province comprises the southernmost part including the vulnerable R. antarcticus (Mazar Barnett et of continental Argentina, located between 46° and 52°S al. 2013). These flatlands along rivers are also the chosen and 65° and 73°W. It is limited by the Atlantic Ocean sites where the local “estancias” (hereafter Ea.) have their to the east and the Andes mountain range on the west. houses, which are usually surrounded by planted trees, The climate is temperate cold with mean temperatures of also important for many bird species, even for northern 5°C. Precipitation varies from 100 to 250 mm in the drier vagrant species (i.e., Militello and Schieda 2011). steppes up to c. 3,000 mm along the Andes, and it occurs mainly during winter and spring seasons, falling as mostly Sampling Methods snow (Cabrera 1971). The Andes acts as a natural barrier for the predominant west and southwest wet winds from Within the context of the “Hooded Grebe Project” the Pacific Ocean, which release humidity mostly on the (“Proyecto Macá Tobiano”) we extensively monitored the western slopes. The little remnant moisture that reaches western half of Santa Cruz province (Fig. 1), between the eastern slopes favors the growth of Nothofagus forest January 2009 and October 2013. Most of the fieldwork along a fine strip (< 70 km) from the Chilean border. was conducted during the summer, from December Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano to March/April, but at least five winter campaigns and (2003), we found that the former published elevational many occasional outings where undertaken in May, range of 200 to 800 m.a.s.l. (Cabot 1992), or up to June, July, and August. During the five years of research 1,000 m.a.s.l. (Vuilleumier 1993), was underestimated, we accumulated over a 1,000 man/days of fieldwork. which could be a result of the difficulty accessing upper Also, regular winter censuses of Podiceps gallardoi on the plateau habitat. As mentioned for other tinamous, during three main estuaries of Santa Cruz allowed us to gather breeding season adult T. ingoufi seem to move in groups information about some migratory habits and some of three individuals (see records on Table 1). scattered records of uncommon species. We followed the systematic arrangement, taxonomy and English names Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi proposed by Remsen et al. (2013). On 10 February 2013 a group of 10 individuals (five breeding pairs) of the critically endangered Podiceps Species Accounts gallardoi was found at a 5-ha pond in Ea. Cerro Fortaleza, Mata Amarilla plateau (50°04'06"S, 71°13'42"W; 863 Patagonian Tinamou Tinamotis ingoufi m.a.s.l.; IR, LGP, PH, M. Bertinat). Four of the five nests Tinamotis ingoufi is uncommon but regular in Santa were successful and four chicks were seen on 5 April 2013 Cruz. Here we present 22 new records for the province (IR). This pond was the only one of the three suitable in (Table 1), most of them from the western part. The the area where the species was present, and was also the highest elevation records were obtained on the Buenos richest in water bird species. Aires plateau (northernmost plateau), at 1,220 m.a.s.l. Populations of Podiceps gallardoi seem to have on a grassy steppe (Table 1–13). Although many unique decreased greatly since the 1980’s (Roesler et al. 2012). records occurred in areas where we had done extensive After five years of research, the actual breeding range of fieldwork, we repeatedly gathered multiple observations Podiceps gallardoi is well known. During our fieldwork we from the same localities, which could indicate that this monitored over 400 suitable ponds and lakes on eleven species tends to live in established territories. Consistent plateaus and some extra-plateau lakes; this population at with Pozzi (1923), our data suggest that while courtship Mata Amarilla plateau was the only new site we found behavior may start as soon as September, the nesting where it was not recorded during the 1980’s and 1990’s period is mid-late November up to early-mid December (cf. Roesler et al. 2012; Codesido, unpubl. data). This (one couple in early December), with hatching in late record represents the second plateau east of National December and early January. The largest number of chicks Road (NR) 40 with a breeding population of Podiceps we detected was eight (the two adults with 15 young gallardoi, while the other plateau, Cerro Ventana, does could represent two independent groups), but most of the not hold individuals at present, given that most of the groups were 4-5 individuals. The biggest flock of adults lakes and ponds are dry (IR and PH, pers. obs.). Note was on the coastal area, during the winter period, which that the lake on Mata Amarilla plateau is less than 50 km could represent individuals from that area congregating away from the type locality of the species, Escarchados during the nonbreeding period, or an increase in the Lake, on Vizcachas plateau, where the species seems to number of individuals due to migration from the western have almost disappeared. part of the province, or even both phenomena combined. The occurrence of aggregations was mentioned by Pozzi Stripe-backed Bittern Ixobrychus involucris (1923), who reported groups of up to 50 individuals in On 16 January 2013, at 0650 h, one individual of autumn, also in the eastern part of the province (after Ixobrychus involucris was detected calling from the dense April). We did not record this species during our winter marshlands near the main houses of Ea. La Angostura surveys in western Santa Cruz province, nor on the slopes (48°37'43"S 70°38'50"W; 377 m.a.s.l.; LGP). Despite of the plateaus, but that could just be a consequence of the further searches in the same area, we failed to find it again low sampling effort put forth during that time of the year. (LGP, IR, JK). The latest inland record outside of the breeding season Accordingly to Darrieu et al. (2008) this represents was a medium/large flock of 17 individuals in mid-April the first record for the province. The marshland habitats (see Table 1–21), which could represent a winter group at Ea. La Angostura are extremely similar to those within similar to the ones observed on the coastal region. the known range of the bittern, and they hold most of This elusive species has been considered as the same species, so it is highly likely that the species uncommon but it is probably expanding due to the probably occurs at low densities, but is not a vagrant— expansion of the patches of “mata negra” (Verbena tridens) just overlooked. This is an important range extension of caused by overgrazing (Cabot 1992). Although we could nearly 1,000 km to the south from the regular known not fully support nor disclaim this hypothesis, it is range of the species, in La Pampa and Neuquén provinces interesting that groups were seen repeatedly in sites with (Narosky and Yzurieta 2010; Rodriguez Mata et al. 2006; large patches of mata negra. In concordance with Imberti Veiga et al. 2005). Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano TABLE 1. Observations of Patagonian Tinamou Tinamotis ingoufi in Santa Cruz province between 2009 and 2013. No. Elev. # Date Locality Coord. Comment Observer ind. (m.a.s.l.) 1 21/12/09 Ea. La Julia, 3 49°35'09"S 81 2 of them IR NR 288, Gdor. 69°34'12"W copulates Gregores. 2 03/01/10 NR 3, north of San 6 48°24'59"S 170 Adult and 5 IR, HC, H. Slongo Julian 67°43'50"W chicks 3 20/01/10 Ea. La Criolla, 12 47°46'44"S 770 Adults HC Asador plateau 71°01'34"W (Juveniles?) 4 10/12/10 Punta Gualichu, 3 50°17'36"S 190 Adults SI Calafate 72°11'37"W 5 06/01/11 Ea. Cerro Ventana, 2 48°54'20"S 450 Adults IR, HC, JK Cerro Ventana 70°21'50"W plateau 6 23/05/11 Puerto Deseado 23 47°21'06"S 162 Adults IR, SI, PH, D. Punta 66°51'30"W Fernández 7 13/10/11 RP 71, north 3 49°39'14"S 50 Adults SI of Gdor. L. 68°43'30"W Piedrabuena 8 12/10/11 Ea. La Estela, Lago 3 49°47'08''S 270 Adults SI Viedma 72°01'46''W 9 10/12/11 RP 71, north 3 49°39'14"S 50 Adults IR of Gdor. L. 68°43'30"W Piedrabuena 10 14/12/11 Ea. Las Coloradas, 9 48°47'42"S 800 Adult and 8 IR, PH, L. Fasola Strobel plateau 71°00'09"W chicks 11 11/02/12 Ea. La Criolla, 6 47°46'44"S 770 Adult and 5 IR, D.P. Fernández, Asador plateau 71°01'34"W chicks R. Lapido 12 16/02/12 Strobel plateau 3 48°27'26"S 943 Adult and 2 IR, HC 71°18'1"W young 13 15/01/12 Ea. 9 de Julio, 6 47°10'13"S 1,220 Adult and 5 IR, HC Buenos Aires plateau 71°12'26"W chicks 14 20/02/12 Ea. El Sauce, Buenos 7 47°14'18"S 770 Adult and 6 IR Aires plateau 71°11'03"W chicks 15 25/03/12 Ea. Las Coloradas, 5 48°47'42"S 800 Adults IR Strobel plateau 71°00'09"W (Juveniles?) 16 26/03/12 Ea. La Angostura 3 48°37'43"S 420 Adults IR 70°38'50"W 17 16/11/12 Strobel plateau 2 48°35'30"S 920 Adults IR, PH 71°14'06"W 18 Jan. 2013 Ea. 9 de Julio, 5 47°14'18"S 770 2 Adults; 3 chicks IR, PH Buenos Aires plateau 71°11'03"W 19 11/01/13 Strobel plateau 6 48°35'30"S 928 Adult and 5 IR, JK 71°14'06"W chicks 20 24/01/13 Asador plateau 17 47°46'44"S 770 2 adults and 15 LGP, L. Fasola 71°01'34"W young 21 31/01/13 RN 40, 10 km south 3 47°24'7"S 605 Adults IR, LGP, JK, S. of Bajo Caracoles 70°58'13"W Hardy, L. Fasola 22 17/04/13 Ea. El Sauco 17 47°20'41"S 520 Adults SI 71°14'19"W Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano Harris’s Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus Rallus antarcticus in only two new localities not reported One individual was observed on 9 February 2013, at the by Mazar Barnett et al. (2013). In January 2011 at least margins of La Lechuza Stream, next to where it flows one individual responded to playback on a marshland into the Santa Cruz River (50°11'57"S, 70°55'42"W; on provincial road (hereafter PR) 41, four km from the 145 m.a.s.l.; IR). The individual was in a patch of forest junction with NR 40 (47°20'58"S, 71°0'59"W; 455 dominated by Salix sp. and Populus sp. in an area of m.a.s.l.; SI, IR). In September 2013 one individual on abandoned houses of Ea. Condor Cliff. It was a first year a small marsh 20 km north of Río Gallegos on the side individual, with completely marked underparts, and no of NR 3 was observed (SI, PH). We visited the PR 41 rufous on the thighs. Further searches during the second marshland on several posterior occasions (seasons 2012 week of February didn’t detect the species (IR, LGP). and 2013) but no rails were ever detected (IR). The This observation represents the third record for Santa NR 3 marshland had rails at every successive visit (SI). Cruz province, the first being an individual photographed We also looked for the rail in several other suitable sites at Río Gallegos city (Alvarado et al. 2009) and another unsuccessfully (Table 2). individual (without details) at Ea. La Angostura (Darrieu Probably the most interesting finding during our et al. 2009b). The individual from Río Gallegos was also fieldwork was that all sites with adequate habitat (Table a juvenile and remained in that area for a long period. 2) hold populations of American mink Neovison vison Probably the species’ populations are spreading south (Fasola and Roesler, unpubl. data.). It is yet unknown following human-planted woodlands around ranches and the effect of this invasive predator on R. antarcticus cities. These individuals could represent a dispersal of populations, but it has been considered one of the main juveniles from nearby areas where the species is frequent, potential threats to populations for some time (Fraga most likely from southeastern Chubut and Río Negro 2000; Mazar Barnett et al. 2013). It is well known that the provinces (IR, pers. obs.). Parabuteo unicinctus seems to American mink has strong negative effects on species that be increasing its distributional range across Argentina, are already declining, being somehow the final stroke for following cities and other forested areas (IR and LGP, some weak populations, such as the Water Vole Arvicola pers. obs.; SH Seipke, pers. comm.). The only raptor amphibius (Barreto et al. 1998). The present distribution census conducted in the area did not mention the species of American mink is now known to be much more south of La Pampa province (Olrog 1979). extensive than previously thought (Fasola and Roesler, unpubl. data), thus proper research is urgently needed to Andean Gull Chroicocephalus serranus assess the real threat posed by N. vison. On 19 December 2009 two individuals of Chroicocephalus serranus in breeding plumage were observed flying over Picazuro Pigeon Patagioenas picazuro the marshes on the banks of the Chico River at Ea. La On 18 February 2013 one individual of Patagioenas Angostura (IR). These two individuals were part of a picazuro was observed in a poplar (Populus sp.) and mixed gull group including individuals of Brown-hooded willow (Salix sp.) implanted forest, next to the Chalía Gull C. maculipennis, allowing direct comparison in the River valley (49°29'3"S, 71°37'44"W – 262 m.a.s.l.), field. They differ from the previous species by the color 18 km (straight line) northwest of Tres Lagos town (IR). pattern of the wings, with almost entirely black primaries The individual was in a group of the more common and (which makes it look darker than in C. maculipennis) widespread Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata). with a white spot on the sub-terminal portion of the last Although the P. picazuro is one of the most abundant primaries. In later visits to the site (January 2010) we pigeon in open (and less open) habitats of central and failed to detect C. serranus (IR, HC). northern Argentina, this is the first observation for Santa There are no previous records of this species for Cruz province (Darrieu et al. 2008; 2009b). This species, Santa Cruz (Darrieu et al. 2008, 2009b) or Chubut and probably Z. auriculata, is expanding its range to (Schulenberg 2010) provinces; the nearest known the south, and becoming more abundant following the populations are on Neuquén province (Veiga et al. expansion of croplands and increase of grain production. 2005). On the western side of the Andes (Chile), the In Patagonia, vagrants or rare species from more humid species reaches further to the south, to the latitude of Río areas tend to be associated with human settlements, Negro province (Jaramillo 2003; Schulenberg 2010). It is normally with cities or man-made forest in ranches or probable that the Andean Gull is much more frequent in “puestos” (small houses in isolated areas of the ranches— lakes and marshlands of northern Patagonia, but might IR, pers. obs.). The observation of P. picazuro could either be overlooked because its plumage is similar to the much represent a sign of recent colonization in the area or just more common C. maculipennis. a vagrant individual. Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus Miners Geositta spp. After five seasons of fieldwork in Santa Cruz we found Three species of Miners inhabit western Santa Cruz Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano province. Their habitat is mostly well separated. The habitats, being common up to 800 m.a.s.l., mostly in Rufous-banded Miner G. rufipennis is common in rocky bushy habitats with less open ground. The populations places on the slopes of plateaus or in basaltic formations, of this species migrate to northern and central Argentina, principally around lakes or ponds. It seems to prefer areas disappearing from Santa Cruz by late April or early May. with higher cliffs, including sedimentary formations The Rufous-banded Miner has been previously between 400 to 900 m.a.s.l., becoming rarer both in recorded at just eight localities in Santa Cruz, including lower and higher elevations. The southernmost area one record in the El Turbio area, which represents the where the species is common is in the central part of Los southernmost record for the species (Darrieu et al. Glaciares NP, the access to the Guanaco area (49°20'01"S 2009a). The lack of other previous records is possibly due 72°52'55"W – 403 m.a.s.l.; SI). During early autumn to the inaccessibility of the upper plateau habitat, where and winter this species appears in open areas at lower the species is fairly common to common. The other two elevations in nearby areas of the plateaus, down to 300 species are well known for the province (Darrieu et al. m.a.s.l. The Short-billed Miner G. antarctica is the most 2009a), but there is scant information about habitat use common Miner on the higher parts of plateaus, up to and microhabitat preferences. 1,600 m.a.s.l., but also inhabits lower areas (down to sea level) during the breeding season and it is found there in Straight-billed Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus wintering flocks as well. It seems to prefer grassy and very ruficaudus open habitats, with few or no bushes, including areas The Ochetorhynchus ruficaudus was first detected in with almost no vegetation at all. In early March it forms the province on 6 January 2010 at El Moro plateau flocks of 100 (or more) individuals, which disappear (49°04'40"S 71°57'41"W – 1,126 m.a.s.l.), when at least from the highland plateaus by late march. Lastly, the two individuals were seen in a rocky gorge (HC, IR). On Common Miner G. cunicularia is more widespread than that occasion, a nest with similar characteristics to the the previous two species, and although it overlaps in ones described for the species was detected in the area (IR, distribution with both of them, it seems to prefer lowland pers. obs.). On 23 January 2011 another two individuals TABLE 2. List of sites where searches of Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus were unsuccessful between 2009-2013. Elev. # Date Locality Coord. Comment Obs. (a.s.l.) 15/03/09 Ea. La Federica, 49°01'16"S 260 Extremely good habitat. More searches are SI San Martín Lake 72°14'34"W necessary. American mink was detected. 05/01/11 Ea. Cerro Ventana 48°57'30"S 236 This place was searched successfully by Mazar HC, JK, 70°13'39"W Barnett et al. (2013). Mink found near this IR locality. 15/12/12 Ea. La Verde 48°26'47"S 455 Small fragment of habitat, but close to La IR, PH, L. 70°32'10"W Angostura, one of the most important spots Fasola for the rail. American mink (Neovison vison) was detected on the nearby Río Chico. 11/02/12 Ea. Valle 47°04'55"S 457 Although not in Argentina, this area holds HC, SI, IR Chacabuco, XI 72°23'37"W massive extentions of habitat next to the Región, Chile international border. The presence of American mink was detected. 23/12/12 Ea. El Sauco 47°20'41"S 278 Few patches of good habitat. We detected the IR 71°14'19"W presence of American mink. Some patches were overgrazed by cows and horses. 13/03/13 Ea. San Carlos, 46°36'01"S 490 Massive patch of good habitat. We detected IR, L. Deseado Valley 70°42'32"W the presence of American mink. Fasola 02/06/13 Ea. Las Tunas, 48°49'09"S 422 0.5 ha of good marshlands. The search was IR, J. Cardiel Lake 71°07'23"W made in early winter, but the marshland was Lancelotti. not frozen. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano were detected on a rocky area covered with small bushes ovenbird nest constructed with sticks, grasses, and had at the Cardiel Chico plateau (49°01'18"S 71°53'18"W – plastics on its interior (entrance opening diameter = 6 cm; 1,154 m.a.s.l.; IR, HC, SI, JK), a mere 10-km straight- tunnel and chamber length = 25 cm). The second nest line distance from the first locality. This plateau is was found at Ea. La Alice – at ‘El Galpón’ (50°20'57"S the western part of the greater Siberia plateau. On 13 72°31'32"W – 187 m.a.s.l.), on 26 September 2009. This December 2011 a pair was seen (and photographed) last was under construction and both individuals were on the Ea. Vega del Osco, along the Barrancoso River, carrying feathers. Single records of individuals far from the Strobel plateau (48°29'25"S 71°17'06"W – 911 m.a.s.l.; econtonal habitat are: one individual at Ea. La Angostura, IR, PH, L. Fasola). They were on a rocky wall covered 22 March 2011 (SI); one individual at ‘El Frigorífico’, with bushes of mata negra (Verbena tridens) and calafate Chico River estuary (49°55'45"S 68°35'15"W – 45 (Berberis spp.). On 7 March 2012 one individual was m.a.s.l.), 9 June 2011 (SI); and lastly, a single individual seen (and photographed) on a bare rocky wall at El Islote seen at the grasslands of Ea. Vega del Osco (48°29'14"S Lake, Strobel plateau (48°38'15"S 71°24'51"W – 1,100 71°17'6"W – 900 m.a.s.l.), 27 March 2013 (IR). m.a.s.l.; IR, G. Aprile). During January-March 2013 at Although the species is common in the ecotonal least one individual was detected on several occasions on a habitat of the western part of the province, these records rocky wall on the C199 Lake, Siberia plateau (49°01'29"S are at the edge of its formerly known distribution 71°44'00"W – 1,030 m.a.s.l.; JK, IR, LGP, SI). Lastly, on (Darrieu et al. 2009a). The biology of this canastero is 10 October 2013 a pair was observed on a rocky outcrop poorly known, therefore the information presented near provincial route 41 (47º15'52"S 71º42'17"W – 550 here, although anecdotal, adds some data that improves m.a.s.l.). That last record is the lowest elevation where our understanding on the breeding behavior of this it had been recorded within the study area, and may uncommon species. The observation at Ea. Vega del represent an elevational movement, considering the early Osco represents the first record in the grasslands of the date (SI). All localities are shown in Figure 2. highland plateaus. These records represent the first mentions for Santa Cruz province (Darrieu et al. 2009a). The distribution of Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola O. ruficaudus along the Andes is probably a continuum capistratus along the sub-Andean plateaus of western Patagonia. On 19 January 2011 a large flock of around 100 The lack of records may be a consequence of the individuals of Muscisaxicola capistratus was found at a large inaccessibility of this habitat. All (but one) of our records patch of grasslands in Perito Moreno NP (47°46'18"S were obtained in localities above (or just around) 1,000 72°05'25"W – 898 m.a.s.l.; IR, HC, JK). Principally m.a.s.l., indicating that it probably does not inhabit lower juveniles composed this flock. The juveniles were elevations during the breeding period. identified by the lack of the contrasting regular pattern of the adults, with less-intense cinnamon coloration on Thorn-tailed Raydito Aphrastura spinicauda the belly, less-defined black on the forehead, and smaller One individual was detected at Punta Bustamante, at the rufous patch on the crown. mouth of the Gallegos Estuary on the Atlantic Ocean Although this is a single record of a big flock, coast (51°36'36"S 69°00'39"W – 3 m.a.s.l.), feeding it is interesting due to the early date in the season around the base of some bushes on 18 May 2010 (SI). (mid summer). This tyrant seems to be one of the first Low Patagonian Steppe covers the site, with absence of migratory species that leaves the region, particularly the nearby patches of forest or any tree vegetation. highland plateaus where it breeds. Also it is interesting Although the species is fairly common in open the fact that this ground-tyrant is one of the species that steppe habitat in some parts of its distribution (Fjeldså moves farther north, reaching areas of central Andes, and Krabbe 1990), it does not have any known regular northwestern Argentina and Bolivia (Fjeldså and Krabbe movements or migration, and there are hardly any 1990). Although it is probably the most common tyrant records of the species away from this type of habitat in of the highland plateaus of western Santa Cruz, there is Santa Cruz (Darrieu et al. 2009a). This record is the first almost no information about movements and population for the eastern part of the province and the first published dynamics. for the continental Atlantic Ocean coast. Southern Martin Progne elegans Austral Canastero Asthenes anthoides During our fieldwork we found that Progne elegans is a Two nests were found in Santa Cruz province: one regular summer reproductive visitor of Perito Moreno (probably abandoned) at Reserva Costera Urbana, in and Bajo Caracoles towns, and within the town limits Río Gallegos (51°38'29"S 69°09'55"W – 4 m.a.s.l.), on the species seems to be present at abundances typical of 11 April 2009 in the bottom part of a ‘mata verde’ bush other localities in northern Patagonia (IR, pers. obs.). (Lepidophyllum cupressiforme). This nest was a typical In those localities it is found from mid/late November Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano FIGURE 1. Map of Santa Cruz province with important sites. Dark grey, plateaus of western Santa Cruz province: 1) Buenos Aires; 2) Asador (north, central, and southern); 3) Strobel; 4) Cerro Ventana; 5) Siberia; 6) El Moro; 7) Viedma or del Tobiano; 8) La Gringa Lake; 9) Mata Amarilla; 10) Vizcachas. Light grey, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Santa Cruz. Medium grey, major lakes. Black dots, important locations mentioned in the text: A) Los Antiguos; B) Perito Moreno; C) Ea. La Angostura; D) Gobernador Gregores; E) El Chaltén; F) La Lechuza Stream, Mata Amarilla plateau. FIGURE 2. Records of Straight-billed Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus ruficaudus, grey dots (arranged south-north): 1) El Moro plateau; 2) Cardiel Chico; 3) C199 Lake; 4) El Islote Lake; 5) Ea. Vega del Osco; 6) RP 41. Greater Yellow Finch Sicalis auriventris distribution: open line area shows the continuous distribution and black stars indicate isolated records: A) La Lechuza Stream, Mata Amarilla plateau; B) Los Baguales massif; C) Los Morros. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano to late March. It is also regular at the cliffs of the Ecker localities are shown in Figure 3. River valley, at Ea. La Vizcaína and Ea. Rincon de Piedra (47º07'21"S 70º53'25"W – 704 m.a.s.l.), but with no Bank Swallow Riparia riparia more than 2-3 pairs every season. We also obtained four One pair was observed at S94 Lake, on Strobel plateau records from three new localities: a pair at ‘puesto de (48°35'33"S 71°14'11"W – 916 m.a.s.l.; JK, HC, IR), veranda’ (‘puesto’ used during the summer season) in the on 11 January 2011 (Figure 3). The individuals were Ea. 9 de Julio (47°06'53"S 71°09'10"W – 1,196 m.a.s.l.), in a mixed group of swallows, which included Chilean on 15 January 2012 (IR, H. Slongo); one individual seen Swallow Tachycineta meyeni and Blue-and-White Swallow on 20 December 2012 (IR) and 18 January of 2013 Pygochelidon cyanoleuca. (probably the same; JK) at Ea. El Sauco; three individuals This observation represents the fourth published (two males and a female) seen on 16 January 2013 at Ea. record for the province (Darrieu et al. 2009a), although La Angostura (LGP, JK, IR); one male at a marshland there are several scattered unpublished observations next to the NR 40 (at the intersection with RP 41) (S. Sturzenbaun and A. Morgenthaler, pers. comm.). (47°21'00"S 71°00'32"W – 457 m.a.s.l.). It is interesting that R. riparia is also rare in northern The former known distribution of P. elegans in Santa Patagonian provinces, like Chubut and Río Negro, with Cruz province was restricted to the Deseado River valley, only one published record (Kirwan 2002). and cities north of it, with just three localities south of that area, mostly restricted to the eastern and central part Hellmayr’s Pipit Anthus hellmayri of the province. Our records suggest that it is actually During our fieldwork we detected this species on only widespread in the west, probably associated with wooded three occasions: one individual displaying at El Chaltén areas around ranches. The new southernmost record is (49°19'49"S 72°53'34"W – 950 m.a.s.l.) on 21 December that from Ea. La Angostura, but it probably can also be 2009 (IR); at least one individual displaying on several found at Gobernador Gregores town and other ranches occasions during December 2011 and January 2012 at farther south, along the Chico River valley. All the known Ea. La Vizcaína (47°07'29"S 70°56'31"W – 780 m.a.s.l.), FIGURE 3. Map showing the distribution of Southern Martin Progne elegans and Bank Swallow Riparia riparia in Santa Cruz province. Grey dots indicate localities previously mentioned for P. elegans by Darrieu et al (2009a). New localities for P. elegans (black stars): 1) Perito Moreno; 2) Bajo Caracoles; 3) Ecker River valley; 4) puesto at Ea. 9 de Julio; 5) Ea. El Sauco; 6) Ea. La Angostura; 7) marshland at RN 40. The white square indicates the locality of R. riparia at Strobel plateau. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano Buenos Aires plateau (IR); and at least two individuals south on the south side of Baguales massif, Viscachas displaying at Ea. La Victorina (48°59'43"S 71°30'28"W plateau (50°54'17"S 72°10'29"W – 328 m.a.s.l.) and at – 580 m.a.s.l.), La Siberia plateau, on November 2012 the volcanic formations known as ‘Los Morros’ in Ea. (IR, PH). Glencross (51°44'54"S 71°32'19"W – 244 m.a.s.l.; SI), Although Hellmayr’s Pipit has few published records near the border with Chile. Estimated distribution in for the province, most of them are from the southern and Santa Cruz is showed in Figure 2. eastern part. These records along the plateaus of western As mentioned above, the Sicalis auriventris is one of Santa Cruz may reflect that it is more widespread than the most common finches of the upper plateau habitat previously thought. All our records were obtained on in Santa Cruz province, being present in almost all the wet, tall (> 30 cm), dense grasslands, mostly on ‘vegas’ basaltic lakes, and in most rocky areas visited. Under 500 (small patches of wet areas with short vegetation) without m.a.s.l. it becomes much rarer, at least in the northern part cattle. Those ‘vegas’ could be either natural or artificial, of the province, and this could be the reason why it was and are created or maintained as important areas for first mentioned for the province in 2003 (Imberti 2003) cattle feeding. The repeated observation of displaying and only mentioned for six further localities (Darrieu et individuals may indicate that the species reproduces in al. 2009a), while much less abundant in western Santa those localities. Cruz, the Patagonian Yellow Finch Sicalis lebruni, is well known due to it inhabits lowlands steppes. The scarcity Blue-and-Yellow Tanager Pipraeidea bonariensis of past records is certainly due to the inaccessibility of the On 16 January 2013 one individual, probably a young habitat where S. auriventris mainly inhabits, being most male, was detected on the marshlands close to the houses of the places mentioned by Darrieu et al. (2009a) at low of Ea. La Angostura. Shortly after, it flew towards the elevation. It is interesting that the lowest records are the implanted woods around the houses of the ranch, and we ones in the southern part of the province. could not locate it again. Our conclusion about the age and sex was based on Grassland Yellow Finch Sicalis luteola the overall coloration, but especially due to head pattern, One individual was detected in a grassland habitat next which had a tinge of light blue, and the darker coloration to the extensive marshlands of Ea. La Angostura, on 19 on wings coverts. This record represents the first for Santa December 2009 (IR). Cruz province (Darrieu et al. 2009a). The fact that this The species is common elsewhere in northern probably was a young male may indicate that it was a Argentina, but it has only five previously known localities vagrant individual dispersing from its breeding grounds. in Santa Cruz province (Imberti 2003; Darrieu et al. 2009a), two of them close to the location of our record. It Greater Yellow Finch Sicalis auriventris is odd that we found a lonely individual of this gregarious This is one of the most common finch species in areas species, thus it could be a vagrant individual. over 700 m.a.s.l. principally around rocky cliffs. It is principally associated with plateau edges, basaltic lagoons, Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis and rocky formations. We found it on all the plateaus During our fieldwork we found this widespread we worked. Three juveniles were seen and photographed cowbird on three occasions: a pair observed flying over using a crevasse on 7 January 2013 at a lake on La Siberia the farmland area of Los Antiguos city (46°33'03"S plateau (49°05'27"S 71°34'71"W – 999 m.a.s.l.; SI, 71°36'44"W – 212 m.a.s.l.), on 24 January 2011 (IR); LGP, and H. Rodriguez Goñi). Apparently they were at least another two in Ea. El Rincón (46°56'24"S using it as a roosting place. Two nests were detected in 70°48'55"W – 725 m.a.s.l.), 23 January 2012 (SI); and early January 2013 on C199 Lake, also at Siberia plateau lastly, three individuals (two males and a female) observed (49°01'29"S 71°44'00"W – 1,030 m.a.s.l.; LGP, JK, SI, also in Los Antiguos city on 11 October 2013 (HC). IR). One of them was located 6 m above the ground on Molothrus bonariensis seems to be spreading south, a flat rock wedged inside a crevasse of a 17-m long cliff. and it has already reached the northern area of Los It was an open cup made with grass and it had 3 chicks. Glaciares NP (Imberti 2005; Darrieu et al. 2009a) where Fledglings left the nest on the 2 February 2013. The other it is now observed regularly. It is also regular on the nest was located on the same rocky outcrop wall, about Atlantic Ocean coast at Piedra Buena city (N. Moreno, 100 m from the first one. It contained two chicks, but pers. comm. 2009) and in Monte León NP (E. Militello, this one was not monitored. There are several scattered pers. comm.). There are also records further south in records on the southernmost plateaus, but during our Chile (Venegas and Sielfeld 1998). It seems that either research we only found the species in a gorge of La its population remains restricted to human settlements Lechuza Stream, in Ea. Cerro Fortaleza, Mata Amarilla or it has not succeeded establishing a regular population plateau (50°04'06"S 71°13'42"W – 863 m.a.s.l.) in in the province. Although we regularly visited farmlands February 2013 (IR). However, there are records further and towns during our surveys, we failed to obtain further Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014 Noteworthy records and natural history comments on rare and threatened bird species from Santa Cruz province, Patagonia, Argentina Ignacio Roesler, Santiago Imberti, Hernán E. Casañas, Pablo M. Hernández, Juan M. Klavins and Luís G. Pagano observations, including in those areas where the species M. McNamara, M. Figuera Tomas, N. Cossa, F. Idoeta, S. has already been seen (i.e., Perito Moreno NP). Further Sturzenbaun, and H. Rodriguez Goñi. Also, this fieldwork records will be necessary to assess the situation of the wouldn’t be possible without the friendship of Los Vascos species in Santa Cruz. Garitaonandia from Ea. La Vizcaína (including Norma and Piri), A.S. Jara, Pancho Chicaguara, E. Sandoval, J. Arriagada, Pajarito, A. Rojo (Ea. Punta del Lago), Tonchi DISCUSSION and María (Ea. La Angostura), Rubén and Silvia (Ea. Cerro Fortaleza), Ariela (Kau Yatun), L. Bernacchi, L. The observations presented here contribute to the Montenegro (APN), Celso (Ea. Las Tunas), Diego (Ea. La knowledge of the distribution and natural history of Silvina), and many others. the birds of Santa Cruz. We presented data of 21 rare This project was supported by the Neotropical or threatened species, five of which were new to the Bird Club, Pro-Natura Japan, Becas Conservar La province. Many of the observations of the poorly known Argentina (Aves Argentinas/AOP), Canadian Fish (or new) species for the province could represent actual and Wildlife Service, Conservation, Research and range expansions of their populations, principally Educational Opportunities International (CREOI), in the cases of the Molothrus bonariensis, Patagioenas Birder’s Exchange, Idea Wild, Secretaría de Ambiente picazuro, and Parabuteo unicinctus. The new localities y Desarrollo Sustentable de la Nación, Subsecretaría de for two threatened species, Podiceps gallardoi and Rallus Medio Ambiente de Santa Cruz, Fundación Flora y Fauna antarcticus, brings hope for the future, indicating that Argentina, Proyecto Jensen de Humedales Altoandinos perhaps there are still some other unknown localities. In and Birdlife International, Mohamed Bin Zayed the case of Podiceps gallardoi, the lake at Mata Amarilla Fundation, CONICET, International Conservation plateau is of capital importance because it is the closest to Fund of Canada, and Seriema Nature Tours. Canadian the almost extinct population that was initially found on Wildlife Service/Environment Canada provided funds the Vizcachas plateau (Roesler et al. 2012). In the case of for the surveys and also a special grant for publishing Rallus antarcticus, the relationship between unsuccessful this paper. This is the Hooded Grebe Project’s scientific searches in proper habitats and the presence of American publication #5. mink must be studied in a deeper way. The distribution of Lastly we wish to thank to Cathy Bechtoldt and the American mink seems to be much more extensive than another two anonymous reviewers for the comments previously thought within continental Patagonia (Fasola and suggestion that improved substantially this paper. and Roesler, unpubl. data), so the impact of this invasive We really want to thank to Luciano Naka who was an species on the rail’s population could be bigger than important part of this paper, with his support and his previously thought (Mazar Barnett et al. 2013). Further understanding, and for the commitment to work on this studies on the avifauna of Santa Cruz will clarify the special issue in honor to our loved friend, Juan. situation of several of the species mentioned in this article, but we consider that special emphasis must be given to those areas that still support rare and threatened species. REFERENCES Alvarado, S.; López, R.; Asueta, R.; McNamara, M. & Imberti, S. 2009. 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Waterbird occurrence and abundance in the Strobel reproductive isolation in steppe birds of Patagonia. Ornitología Lake Plateau, Patagonia, Argentina. Hornero, 24: 13–20. Neotropical, 4: 1–41. Mazar Barnett, J. & Pearman, M. 2001. Lista comentada de las aves argentinas. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. Mazar Barnett, J.; Imberti, S. & Roesler, I. 2013. Distribution and habitat use of the Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus and perspectives on its conservation. Bird Conservation International, 24: 114–125. Associate Editor: Luciano N. Naka Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 22(2), 2014

Journal

Ornithology ResearchSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 1, 2014

Keywords: Argentina; distribution; natural history; new records; Santa Cruz

References