White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps
Chilean name: Fío-fío
White-crested Elaenia, Puyehue NP, Chile, November 2005 - click for larger image Chile and Peru

What a pleasure it is to have an elaenia that is easily identifiable. Not only is it the only elaenia in Chile but it has a crest and a white crown patch that is almost always visible. Add to that two whitish wing-bars and a distinctive "fio-fio" call and you can't go wrong.

White-crested Elaenia, La Campana NP, Chile, November 2005 - click for larger image In fact, it's more complicated than that. There are several sub-species that breed from southern Colombia through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and into Argentina. Some are dingier with less well marked wing-bars and the incessant and obvious calls are only given in the breeding season. Jaramillo suggests that the sub-species found in most of Chile E. a. chilensis might be a separate species. Several other authorities agree but this treatment has not been adopted by the South American Classification Committee to date (April 2021). Photo 5 from the Kuelap Fortress in Peru shows, according to our guide, Forrest Rowland, a migratory bird of the sub-species E. a. chilensis.
White-crested Elaenia, Torres del Paine NP, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image
White-crested Elaenia, Vichuqu&eacutee;n, Chile, January 2007 - click for larger image
White-crested Elaenia, Kuelap, Amazonas, Peru, October 2018 - click for larger image
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