There are approximately 448 avifauna species in Uruguay. Seven of the species have been introduced while 39 species are vagrants or rare species. Six birds’ species are believed to be extinct because they cannot be traced anywhere in the country or world. None of the bird species are endemic while 20 species are hypothetical (believed to exist in the country). Most of the birds’ species in Uruguay are native to South America are geographically distributed across the continent. This article explores some of the native birds of Uruguay, their characteristics, and possible threats and conservation.
The Native Birds
Greater Rhea- Rhea americana
The Greater rhea is a common bird in eastern South America that is known by several names including gray, American rhea, and common among other names. The flightless bird belongs to the genus Rhea in the Rheidae family. Apart from Uruguay, the bird is also native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. An adult Greater rhea weigh 20-27 kg and measures 50-55 9 inches long from beak to tail. It has a fairly small head and bill with the bill measuring approximately 4.1 inches. The bird is relatively silent except during mating season when it makes a low booming noise.
Brown tinamou- Crypturellus obsoletus
The Brown tinamou is commonly found in humid lowlands of the tropical and subtropical South America. It is almost similar to the quill bird but is unrelated. The Brown tinamou belongs to the family Paleognathae. The bird is approximately 9.8 to 11.8 inches long and weighs about 350-550 grams. Depending on the subspecies, the color may vary from dark brown to bright chestnut. Brown tinamou is a shy bird and dwells on the ground. It is usually found singly or in a pair. Its diet consists of insects and seeds.
Southern screamer- Chauna torquata
The Southern screamer is a common bird in most parts of South America including Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. It is about 32 to 37 inches long and weighs approximately 6 to 11 pounds, one of the heaviest birds in South America. Southern screamer is an efficient swimmer because of the webbed feet. However, it prefers to move on the ground. It has horny spurs on the wings which are used as a protection against other screamers. The bird mainly feeds on plant stems and leaves.
Dusky-legged guan- Penelope obscura
The Dusky-legged guan belongs to the family Cracidae. Apart from Uruguay, it is also found in other South American countries such as Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Its natural habitat includes tropical moist montane forest and tropical moist lowland forest. The Dusky-legged guan is approximately 73 cm long and weighs about 1.2 kg. It is similar to rusty-margined guan. The diet consists of fruits and flowers picked from the ground or plucked from branches.
Conserving Native Birds of Uruguay
About 71% of Uruguay is a natural grassland. The grassland faces numerous threats including cattle grazing and agriculture. These grasslands are habitat for some of the country’s threatened bird species. Aves Uruguay has for the past four years developed Important Birds Area in an effort to help conserve birds’ species. The conservationists are also working with students and communities living around IBAs to develop ecotourism activities such as training local guides and creating groups of volunteers to take care of the areas.