This week: Valdivia to host national conference on birdwatching in southern Chile

By Zoe Baillargeon
Chile’s diverse landscapes and extensive system of national parks and protected areas are increasingly making it a world-class haven for viewing a wide range of intriguing and beautiful bird species, especially migratory birds. The Atacama desert, the Los Lagos region, and the far south of Patagonia are often cited as top places for birdwatching, but tourism industry professionals and ornithologists are eager to promote the many untapped opportunities for birding tourism in the Los Rios region and elsewhere in southern Chile at this week’s 2nd National Bird Watching in Southern Chilean Ecosystems Conference.

The main objective, say conference organizers at the Institute of Tourism at the Universidad Austral de Chile in the official conference mission statement, is to “analyze the potential of the ecosystems of the southern zone of Chile for the development of birdwatching, specifically as an element contributing to the diversification of touristic offerings in a conservation context.”
And the conference agenda is action packed. Running from this Thursday, October 18, through Saturday, October 20, the conference will feature lectures, workshops, a fair, and other activities, including a beginner’s guide to birdwatching course, a talk on how birding tourism can work in cooperation with conservation initiatives, and a final day birding outing to Oncol Park for observation of the park’s many bird species, which include tapaculos and huet-huets.
The list of speakers at this week’s conference includes many of the top names in Chilean ornithology, among others speaking are leading birdwatching guides Enrique Couve and Claudio Vidal; naturalist Jurgen Rottmann; illustrator and researcher Jorge Ruiz; Heraldo Norambuena of the Chilean Network of Ornithologists, and experts from the Universidad Austral.
A secondary objective for the conference, which is co-organized by the Rio Cruces Wetland Center, is to raise awareness about the unique birding opportunities in the Los Rios region, as well as create an educational forum for bird enthusiasts.
In particular, the conference aims to highlight Valdivia’s prime location at the confluence of the Calle-Calle, Valdivia, and Cau-Cau rivers, which already make it a popular destination for outdoor sports like kayaking or hiking. But the many wetlands and preserved habitats around the city, like the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary, are also home to a wide range of species including black neck swan, caracaras, and thrushes; more than 150 birds nest in the Carlos Anwandter Sanctuary.
“Events related to bird watching and other branches of natural history are multiplying not only in Chile, but around the world,” says Claudio Vidal, co-director of Far South Expeditions. “We recently returned from birding meetings in England (British Birdwatching Fair) and the United States (American Birding Expo), where thousands of enthusiastic and committed birdwatchers converge in the camaraderie of this life-changing activity that has its overriding intention the conservation of nature.”
Bird and nature lovers, this is a can’t miss event! Patagon Journal will be there with a stand at the Bird Tourism Fair, come by and say hello!
Below, the full conference agenda. For more information on the conference and to sign up for courses, visit" target="_blank"> 

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