Twenty-six (23 traveling and three point) raptor roadside surveys were conducted during a 29,000 km expedition through nine nations of South America. During roadside surveys, we tallied 41 of the 87 (47%) diurnal raptor species (including vultures) that occur in South America. The number of species observed per route varied from 17 in the wet savanna of Venezuela to only two species recorded in the harsh Atacama Desert and the dry montane grasslands of Chile and Peru. Raptor density (non-vultures) varied from 1 per 67 km in the Atacama Desert to more than 1 per km in agricultural areas where caracaras and other species that utilize disturbed habitats were common. Responses of raptor communities to deforestation and other habitat disturbances are discussed. While certain habitat modifications potentially increase raptor abundance and diversity, the alteration of primary forest has the opposite effect, at least on diversity.