Viru-Viru Airport

Viru-Viru Airport is a great birding spot that is incredibly convenient.   The area around the airport protects rare ungrazed grassland with forested and inundated areas.  The best bird in the area is the often surprisingly easy to see Greater Rhea, but also the Red-legged Seriema can take a nice second.  No one sees them both in the same day!  Other birds more commonly seen at the airport are Red-winged Tinamou, White-bellied Nothura, Long-winged Harrier, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Burrowing Owl, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Misto Yellow-Finch, Black-faced Tanager, Masked Yellowthroat, Tawny-bellied Seedeater and the rare Rufous-rumped Seedeater.

Be sure to talk to the Sabsa airport managers about birdingthe grounds. Best to approach them within the airport at the Sabsa desk between the American Airlines desk and the escalator to the right. Tell them "Quiero perdir permiso para observar aves en el area de la entrada del aeropuerto" (I want to ask permission to birdwatch in the entrance area of the airport.) This is the only area were you will need to go off road.  The area is private property and is guarded.  They have never had a problem with us birding the area if we ask permission before hand.  Sometimes the process requires a senior official to meet you and other times they can radio the information. Birdwatching is still an odd thing in Bolivia, so it is better to explain what you are doing.

Most of the birding can be done in the area south of the entrance.  As you enter the Airport, you pass the airport toll entrance.  Continue further towards the airport, past the Camba roadside display with an ox-cart, to a small paved road that ends a short distance. Travel this road inwards and to the right as far as you feel safe, as the road is quiet sandy. From here, further south, you can see a forested area.  These maintenance roads are constantly changing, but there are several road tracks in this area.  We recommend walking them as to how the habitat seems, keeping in mind to pass different habitats from tall grass, short grass, flooded areas, hilly areas, and forest border.  At some periods during the year, the roads connect to form a loop, but not always

There are also dirt track trails to the north of the entrance road.  One can also follow the road to the airport and then a right traveling south past administration buildings.  The area where it reaches the fenced off runway can be better for more forest edge birds, but not better than the botanical gardens.

If you are short for time, you can drive slowly along the paved airport roads, looking in the roadside short grass for Red-winged Tinamou, White-bellied Nothura, Red-legged Seriema, Burrowing Owl, Campo Flicker and scanning for Rheas.  Red-legged Seriemas have even been reported while taxing on the runway, so don't neglect good birding time.

Logistics: Viru-Viru is located directly due north of the city along Carretara al Norte.  The entrance to the airport is well signed.  All taxi drivers know where the airport is and will take you there for a fee of $8 to $12 depending on time of day, quality of the taxi and the level of ignorance of the passenger.  There is also an Airport Micro bus leaving the Bus terminal every 15 minutes, which can take you there for less than a $1.  They wait in line on the north end of the bus terminal, near an entrance road.