Argentina’s ornithological fauna considerably exceeds that of mammals in number of individuals and variety. From the majestic condor to the small and beautiful picaflores it can be said that all the characteristic types of American birds exist in it. Among the birds, tyrannies predominate, of which the best known is the bien te veo (Pitangus bolivianus) , so called for its characteristic cry, and the Furnarids which have as their type the hornero (Furnarios rufus), whose curious mud nest is seen both on the bare branches of the trees and on the telegraph poles. Dabbene’s studies reveal that of the 469 genera and 847 species of birds that exist in Argentina, 208 genera with 419 species, ie almost half belong to the Passerines. Some groups of birds, which are commonly considered exclusive to the tropics, such as the Trochilids or picaflores and the Psittacids or parrots, actually reach Patagonia; but creepers or toucans are found only in the sub-tropical woodland area.

In addition to numerous species of true Raptors, or Accipitriformes, including the carancho (Polyborus plancus) and the chimango (Milvago chimango), there is in Argentina the related order of the Catartoids or Catartidiforms, just from the neo-tropical region, which is represented in the Andes by the cóndor, the king of American birds and, in most of the country, by the jote (Cathartes aura) improperly called crow by the natives of the place. Among the Strigiformes or nocturnal birds of prey, are the small common owl (Tyto alba tuidara) which nests on buildings, and the small viscacheras owl (Speotyto cunicularia), one of the most common birds in the pampas.

The black-necked swan and the white goose (Coscoroba coscoroba) abound in all lakes of a certain size, and in Patagonia the Magellanic goose (Chloephaga magellanica) is found everywhere , which in the country is improperly called avutarda. The flamenco (Phoenicopterus chilensis), the pink spoonbill and various species of Herons as well as the stork (Euxenura maguari) and the tuyuyú (Mycteria mycteria) also belong to the lake avifauna. The chajá (Chauna Salvadorii) and the chuña (Chunga Burmeisteri), are generally considered to be the most typically Argentine birds; but the species that more is observed especially widespread in the pampas area, is a small wader known as teru – tero (Belonopterus chilensis). Due to their habits and as birds to be hunted, the Tinamiformes represent in this fauna what partridges are in Europe, and in fact with the name of partridges the vulgar knows the species of the genera Rhynchotus and Nothura while the Calopezus elegans, species characteristic of Argentina, it receives the name of martineta. In the Argentine territory there are two very different species of the order of the Reiformi, or American ostriches: the ñandú or suri (Rhea americana albescens) which reaches the Río Negro, and the small ostrich (Pterocnenia pennata) which lives only in Patagonia. The coasts of the extreme south of Argentina are populated by seabirds characteristic of the region, among which albatrosses and various species of penguins predominate, including the giant of the group, the king penguin (Aptenodytes Pennanti).

If compared with that of the other regions of America, Argentina’s fauna is scarce in Reptiles and Amphibians. The former are represented by a relatively low number of iguanas, lacertas, and turtles; the caiman or yacaré lives in the sub-tropical zone, where the rattlesnake also lives. In the other regions the only dangerous reptiles are the víboras de la cruz (Lachesis) and the coral snakes (Elaps). Among the Amphibîs, the Hylidae and Leptodactylidae families are known as frogs, although they have nothing in common with members of the Ranidae family, which has no representatives in Argentina. The horned toad or escuerzo (Cerathophrys ornata), although completely harmless, is viewed with terror by the common people who believe it to be poisonous.

Both along the coasts and in the great rivers and lakes, Argentina has an abundant ichthyological fauna, although fishing is not among the local industries the most important for the small number of coastal populations. Freshwater fauna is very interesting, but just as little known and studied. It should not be forgotten that, as also happens for other zoological groups, the Argentines call with the same name given to the European fishes the Argentine species which, on the contrary, have nothing to do with them; thus the trout of the Río Negro (Percichthys laevis), a highly appreciated food, belongs to the Percoid family, and not to that of the Salmonids like the European trout.(Pseudoplatystoma corruscans), edible, the manguruyú (Pseudopimelodus zungaro) and several species of bagres (Pimelodus). Salmon (Curimatus Frederichi) and sabalo (Prochilodus platensis) of the same rivers, are caracinid fish completely different from their European homonyms, and much inferior in quality, while sardine, herring, anchovy and cod from Argentine waters they are species similar to those caught in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The most consumed fish in the country are several species of the genus Atherinichthys, commonly known as pejerreyes, the meat of which is very tasty. Two of these species (A. Argentinensis and Argentina Bonariensis) are found more frequently in the rivers into the sea.

The Selac group is abundantly represented in Argentine waters by some species also common to European seas, such as, p. eg, the angelfish (Squatina angelus) and the hammerhead fish. The Cethorinus maximus was found even in the New Gulf, along the coast of Chubut.

Among the invertebrates, the insects are the most notably represented in terms of number and variety of species, especially in the sub-tropical zone. Some species are very harmful to the vegetation such as the grasshopper (Schistocerca paranensis) and a butterfly which due to the shape of the chrysalis is called bicho de cesto (Oeceticus platensis). In the small villages of the interior, the vinchuca (Triatoma infestans) is much feared, a huge bug that gives very painful bites. Among the ants we remember various species, such as Acromyrmex lobicornis. In the northern woods lives a species of wasp that produces edible honey (Nectarinia lecheguana), and there is another species, known as the camuati (Polybia scutellaris), which builds a huge nest suspended between the branches of trees. Some arachnids are also interesting, such as the large araña pollito (Eurypelma spinnipes), and the Latrodectus, whose sting is very dangerous.

As for the Crustaceans, it is remarkable the fact that, as in Australia and New Zealand, the river crabs belong to the group of the Parastacids, and not to that of the Potamobids, as happens in North America.

As in the rest of America, colonization introduced all of Europe’s domestic animals to Argentina, some of which are now the country’s main sources of wealth, especially the ox and sheep. The horse, which played such a preponderant part in Argentine history, is still the main means of transport in some regions of the interior. Together with these useful animals, others have been introduced which could better be called undesirable, such as the sparrow and the hare, and still others, such as the mouse and the vole, which are decidedly harmful.

Argentina Fauna 2

Argentina Fauna Part 2
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