Where to watch birds and wildlife in
A Brazilian Laniisoma or Elegant Mourner once known as Shrike-like Cotinga but no longer considered to be a cotinga by some
taxonomists. This fine image of a singing male was captured at the Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu (REGUA) by one of its dedicated supporters
- There are more endemic birds in this corner of South America than anywhere else on the continent. Many of the 180 or so Atlantic
Forest Endemics are localized, rare and little-known, and yet it is possible to see most of them on a month-long trip during the southern spring
- Including lots of endemic cotingas and their close relatives such as Black-headed and Hooded Berryeaters, Cinnamon-vented Piha,
Black-and-gold and Grey-winged Cotingas, Bare-throated Bellbird, Buff-throated Purpletuft and Brazilian Laniisoma
- As well as other endemics including Red-billed Curassow, Festive and Frilled Coquettes, Surucua Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot,
Three-toed Jacamar, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets, Red-breasted Toucan, lots of antbirds including some very large antshrikes, Black-cheeked Gnateater,
Canebrake Groundcreeper, Black-capped Piprites, Pin-tailed Manakin, lots of tyrants and lots of tanagers including Brassy-breasted, Cherry-throated,
Diademed, Gilt-edged, Golden-chevroned and Red-necked
- And localised and spectacular species such as Black-fronted Piping Guan, Scarlet Ibis, Red-legged Seriema, Giant Snipe,
White-winged Potoo, Toco Toucan, Sharpbill, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Swallow-tailed Cotinga and Wing-barred Piprites
- With a few mammals including marmosets and monkeys
Red-necked Tanager at Ubatuba by
- Farther south via a short flight, off the beaten track in the state of Rio Grande do Sul out of the capital Porto Alegre and Sao
Francisco de Paula it is possible to see a wide range of different mainly wetland and open country birds, including Greater Rhea, Southern Screamer,
Chilean Flamingo, Rufous-sided Crake, Giant Wood-Rail, South American Painted-snipe (Lagoa do Peixe National Park near Mostardas),
Snowy-crowned Tern (Lagoa do Peixe NP), Blue-bellied, Red-spectacled and Vinaceous Parrots, Long-tufted Screech-Owl, Mottled Piculet, Olive Spinetail,
Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail (Lagoa do Peixe NP), Araucaria and Striolated Tit- Spinetails, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Hudson’s
Canastero (Lagoa do Peixe NP), Rufous Gnateater, Crested Doradito (Tramandai), Spectacled Tyrant, White Monjita,
Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant, an undescribed species of Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Eastern Slaty-Thrush, Chestnut-backed Tanager and Green-throated
- If more time is available it is possible to link a trip to Southeast Brazil with a visit to Iguazu Falls. These
falls on the border with Argentina may not be the highest in the world, at up to 82 m (269 ft), compared to Victoria Falls at 108 m (360 ft) for example,
but they do tumble, in what is a series of waterfalls, over a crescent-shaped cliff about 2.7 km (1.7 miles) long, much longer than Victoria Falls at
1.7 km (1.1 miles). They are usually at their best during the wet season which lasts from November to March, especially in December, and have even been
known to run dry in May and June during the dry season. There are some good birds too, including Black-fronted Piping Guan, Red-breasted and Toco Toucans,
Spot-billed Toucanet, Great Dusky Swift, Black Jacobin, Surucua Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot, Rusty-breasted Nunlet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Rufous
Gnateater, Southern Antpipit, Black-collared Swallow, Sharpbill, Band-tailed, Blue and White-bearded Manakins, and Green-headed Tanager, with a chance of
Plush-crested Jay and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow.
Best Birds and other wildlife in Southeast Brazil
Regional Atlantic Forest Endemics
Solitary Tinamou, East Brazilian (Variable) and Scaled Chachalacas, Red-billed Curassow, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Mantled and White-necked Hawks,
Brown-backed Parrotlet, parrots, parakeets, Black-capped Screech-Owl, Rusty-barred and Tawny-browed Owls, Least Pygmy-Owl, Long-trained Nightjar, Black
Jacobin, Hook-billed, Minute, Saw-billed and Scale-throated Hermits, Festive and Frilled Coquettes, Brazilian Ruby, Emerald-crested/Green-crowned and
Violet-crested/Purple-crowned Plovercrests, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Black-throated (chrysochloros) and Surucua Trogons, Rufous-capped Motmot,
Three-toed Jacamar, Buff-bellied (White-necked) and (Greater) Crescent-chested Puffbirds, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets, Cream-coloured, Ringed
(Atlantic Black-breasted), Robust, White-browed, White-spotted, Yellow-eared, Yellow-fronted and Yellow-throated (erythropis) Woodpeckers,
Large-tailed, Sooretama Slaty, Spot-backed, Tufted and White-bearded Antshrikes, lots of antbirds and antwrens, Fringe-backed (atra) and
White-shouldered Fire-eyes, Cryptic (meruloides), Rufous-tailed and Such’s Antthrushes, Black-cheeked and Rufous Gnateaters,
Spotted Bamboowren, bristlefronts, tapaculos, woodcreepers, treehunters, foliage-gleaners, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Canebrake Groundcreeper,
and Orange-eyed Thornbirds, Pink-legged Graveteiro, Striated Softtail, spinetails, tyrannulets, Grey-backed Tachuri, Eared and Fork-tailed
Pygmy-Tyrants, bamboo-tyrants, tody-Tyrants, Grey-headed Tody-Flycatcher, flycatchers, Velvety Black-Tyrant, Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant, Large-headed Flatbill
(megacephalum), Grey-hooded and Rufous-tailed Attilas, Greyish Mourner (simplex), Black-headed and Hooded Berryeaters, Cinnamon-vented Piha,
Banded, Black-and-gold, Grey-winged and White-winged Cotingas, Bare-throated Bellbird, Serra do Mar and Wied’s Tyrant-Manakins, Blue and Pin-tailed
Manakins, Black-capped Piprites, Greenish Schiffornis, Buff-throated Purpletuft, Kinglet Calyptura, Brazilian Laniisoma (Elegant Mourner/Shrike-like
Cotinga (elegans), Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Azure Jay, White-browed Warbler, Azure-shouldered, Black-backed, Brassy-breasted, Brazilian, Brown,
Cherry-throated, Chestnut-headed, Diademed, Gilt-edged, Golden-chevroned, Green-headed, Olive-green, Red-necked, Ruby-crowned, Rufous-headed and
Turquoise (White-bellied brasiliensis) Tanagers, Black-legged Dacnis, Uniform Finch, Bay-chested and Buff-throated (Red-rumped) Warbling-Finches,
seedeaters, Thick-billed Saltator, Black-throated Grosbeak, Half-collared Sparrow, and Chestnut-bellied Euphonia.
Dusky-legged Guan, Rufous-thighed Kite, Red-and-white and Rufous-sided Crakes, Giant Snipe, Pygmy and Sickle-winged Nightjars, Ocellated Poorwill,
White-winged Potoo, Giant and Great Antshrikes, Variegated Antpitta, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Wing-barred Piprites and Tropeiro
Seedeater. Also a chance of Helmeted Woodpecker.
Masked Duck, Scarlet Ibis, Swallow-tailed Kite, Blackish Rail, Red-legged Seriema, Biscutate Swift, hummingbirds including Sombre and Swallow-tailed,
Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Black-necked Aracari, Channel-billed (Ariel), Red-breasted (Green-billed) and Toco Toucans, Campo Flicker, Blond-crested
and White Woodpeckers, Blue-winged Macaw, Rufous-capped and Short-tailed Antthrushes, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Screaming Piha,
Sharpbill, Red-headed, White-bearded and White-crowned Manakins, Riverbank Warbler, tanagers including Black-goggled and Burnished-buff, and Campo
Big-eared and Common Opossums, Common and Tufted-ear (Geoffroy’s/White-headed endemic geoffroyi) Marmosets, Black-fronted and Masked (endemic
Atlantic) Titi Monkeys, Brown (Black-capped/Black-(Tufted)) Capuchin, Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Guiana Dolphin, Nine-banded Armadillo, Capybara,
Collared Peccary, Lowland Paca, Brown Agouti, Pampas Fox, South American Coati and Red Brocket Deer. Also a chance of Brown Howler Monkey and Maned Sloth
(Santa Maria de Jetibá Northern Muriqui Reserve).
Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Southeast Brazil
- Cafundo Private Reserve, near Cachoeiro do Itapemirim, Espirito Santo Plumbeous Antvireo, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant and Wied’s
Tyrant-Manakin, as well as Red-browed Parrot, Blue-winged Macaw, Campo Flicker, White Woodpecker, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, seedeaters and Brown Howler
- Private FRs near Venda Nova do Immigrante, Espirito Santo A chance of Cherry-throated Tanager (at Caetés Forest for example),
as well as Pileated Parrot, Spot-billed Toucanet, Black-billed Scythebill, Giant Antshrike, Sharpbill, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Brazilian Laniisoma,
Bare-throated Bellbird, Blue and Pin-tailed Manakins, and Gilt-edged Tanager. Also a chance of Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Long-trained Nightjar and
- Vita Verde Pousada near Santa Teresa feeders which attract numerous hummingbirds including Frilled Coquette.
- Dr Augusto Ruschi (Mello Leitao) hummingbird feeders in Santa Teresa, Espirito Santo feeders which attract numerous
hummingbirds of 15 species including Frilled Coquette and Black Jacobin.
- Augusto Ruschi Marine Biological Station, on the coast of Aracruz feeders which attract numerous hummingbirds including
- Linhares VALE Natural Reserve, Espirito Santo Solitary Tinamou, Red-billed Curassow, White-necked Hawk, Red-browed Parrot,
Least Pygmy-Owl, Tawny-browed Owl, Ocellated Poorwill, Minute Hermit, Ringed Woodpecker, Black-headed Berryeater and White-winged Cotinga, as well as
Tufted-ear Marmoset and Brown Capuchin. Also a chance of White-winged Potoo and an outside chance of Banded Cotinga.
- Itatiaia NP, Rio de Janeiro/Minas Gerais border Dusky-legged Guan, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Giant Snipe, Tawny-browed Owl,
Rufous-capped Motmot, Surucua Trogon, Frilled Coquette, Brazilian Ruby, (Emerald-crested/Green-crowned) Plovercrest, Red-breasted Toucan, Saffron Toucanet,
Robust Woodpecker, Black-and-gold and Swallow-tailed Cotingas, Black-capped Piprites, Itatiaia Thistletail, Grey-bellied Spinetail, Rufous-breasted
Leaftosser, Black-billed Scythebill, Giant, Large-tailed, Tufted and White-bearded Antshrikes, antbirds, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Brazilian and Such’s
Antthrushes, Variegated Antpitta, Rufous Gnateater, Slaty Bristlefront, Velvety Black-Tyrant, Fork-tailed
Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-tailed Attila, White-browed Warbler, Bay-chested, Buff-throated and Cabanis’s (Red-rumped) Warbling-Finches,
Brassy-breasted, Brown, Diademed and Olive-green Tanagers, and Thick-billed Saltator.
- REGUA (Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu), Serro do Mar, Rio de Janeiro 470+ species including 62 Brazilian endemics and 118
Atlantic Forest endemics excluding additional species which can be seen on excursions to nearby sites. Giant Snipe, Blue-bellied Parrot, Black-banded Owl,
Crescent-chested Puffbird, Salvadori’s Antwren, Brazilian Laniisoma, Russet-winged Spadebill, Black-legged Dacnis and Turquoise (White-bellied) Tanager,
as well as Masked Duck, Capybara, Common Marmoset, Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Big-eared Opossum and Lowland Paca. Excursions to Cabo Frio for Minute
Hermit and Restinga Antwren; Macae de Cima for Scale-throated Hermit, Hooded Berryeater, Bare-throated Bellbird and Black-and-gold Cotinga; and Serra dos
Orgaos for Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Hooded Berryeater and Half-collared Sparrow.
- Itororo Eco-Lodge (formerly Serra dos Tucanos Lodge, 40 minutes away, also in the Tres Picos State Park) Dusky-legged Guan,
Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Rufous Gnateater, Bare-throated Bellbird (absent April – July), Sharpbill, Half-collared Sparrow, and tanagers including
Brassy-breasted, Chestnut-headed and Golden-chevroned. Theodoro Trail, 20 minute drive from the lodge – Mantled Hawk, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper,
Pin-tailed Manakin and Gray-hooded Atilla. Bamboo Trail, opposite the Theodoro Trail – Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Slaty Bristlefront, Black-and-gold
Cotinga, Hooded Berryeater, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed Manakin, Drab-breasted Bamboo Tyrant and Sharpbill. Cedae Trail – Rufous-capped Motmot,
Buff-bellied Puffbird, Ferruginous Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, and tanagers including Green-headed, Olive-green and Red-necked.
- Nova Friburgo area, near Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro Large-tailed Antshrike, Dusky-tailed and Rufous-tailed Antbirds, Rufous
Gnateater, Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin, Chestnut-headed Tanager and Half-collared Sparrow. Also a chance of White-rumped Hawk, Black-and-gold Cotinga
(Pico da Caledonia), Grey-winged Cotinga (stunted forests below the tree-line on Pico da Caledonia), Swallow-tailed Cotinga and Blackish-blue
- Sumidouro Three-toed Jacamar, Blue-winged Macaw, Black-necked Aracari, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Serra Antwren, Curl-crested
Jay and Gilt-edged Tanager.
- Ubatuba area, Sao Paulo Mantled and White-necked Hawks, Spot-billed Toucanet, Buff-bellied Puffbird, spectacular hummingbird
feeding stations for species such as Saw-billed Hermit and Festive Coquette, antbirds, antwrens, antshrikes, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Spotted Bamboowren,
Buff-throated Purpletuft, Eye-ringed and Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrants, Black-legged Dacnis, and Green-headed, Red-necked and Rufous-headed Tanagers.
- Pereque area Black-hooded Antwren, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Orange-eyed Thornbird,
Chestnut-backed Antshrike and tanagers.
- Marshes near Biritiba-Mirim between Ubatuba and Intervales via Sao Paulo Sao Paulo (Marsh) Antwren, as well as a chance of
Red-and-white Crake, Blackish Rail, Orange-breasted Thornbird, Spix’s Spinetail, Rufous-capped Antshrike and Brazilian Tanager.
- Intervales SP, Sao Paulo Solitary Tinamou, Black-fronted Piping Guan, Red-and-white Crake, Pileated Parrot, Rusty-barred and
Mottled Owls, Black-capped and Tropical Screech-Owls, Long-trained Nightjar, Dusky-throated Hermit (at lek), (Purple-crowned/Violet-crested) Plovercrest
(at lek), Rufous-capped Motmot, Red-breasted Toucan, Buff-bellied Puffbird, Robust Woodpecker, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Giant, Large-tailed,
Spot-backed, Tufted and White-bearded Antshrikes, Squamate Antbird, Variegated Antpitta, Short-tailed Antthrush, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Slaty
Bristlefront, Spotted Bamboowren, Grey-hooded and Rufous-tailed Attilas, Shear-tailed Grey-Tyrant, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Bare-throated Bellbird,
Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Blue Manakin, Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin, Wing-barred Piprites, Black-legged Dacnis, Riverbank Warbler and
Half-collared Sparrow. Also a chance of Least Pygmy-Owl, Blue-bellied Parrot, Swallow-tailed Cotinga and (Atlantic) Royal Flycatcher
(subspecies swainsoni), and an outside chance of Helmeted Woodpecker.
- Cananeia area Red-tailed Parrot, as well as Restinga Tyrannulet, Fuscous Flycatcher (nominate subspecies), Highland Elaenia
and Long-billed Wren.
- Intervales to Curitiba to the Graciosa Road and Corvo Road in the Serra do Mar Speckle-breasted Antpitta.
- Pontal do Sul Black-backed Tanager and Restinga Tyrannulet.
- Boat trip in Paranagua Bay Brown Booby, Scarlet Ibis, Red-tailed Parrot roost and Guiana Dolphin.
- Coastal lowlands including Guaratuba Bay near Curitiba, Parana Scaled Chachalaca, Rufous-sided Crake, Canebrake
Groundcreeper, Olive Spinetail, Spot-backed Antshrike, Marsh (Wetland) and White-breasted Tapaculos, Parana Antwren, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Kaempfer’s
Tody-Tyrant, Plush-crested Jay, Red-necked Tanager, Thick-billed Saltator, Gray-throated (Red-rumped) Warbling-Finch and Glaucous-blue Grosbeak. Also a
chance of Sickle-winged Nightjar and Black-backed Tanager.
Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Southeast Brazil
Even though a few days of rain are usual October-November is the best time to see the greatest range of birds.
Recommended Bird Books etc. for Southeast Brazil
Birds of South America, Non-Passerines: Rheas to Woodpeckers by F Erize, J R Mata and M Rumboll. PUP, 2007.
The Birds of South America, Volumes I and II by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 1989/or the condensed version with additional
illustrations: Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America: The Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 2009.
Birds of Brazil by K Zimmer and A Whittaker. PUP, due 2019 or later.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil by B van Perlo. OUP, 2009.
Birds of Brazil: the Pantanal and Cerrado of Central Brazil by J A Gwynne et al. Comstock Publishing Associates, 2010.
Mammals of South America by R D Lord. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.
Neotropical Rainforest Mammals by L H Emmons. University of Chicago Press, 1997.
Butterflies of South America by B D’Abrera. Hill House, 1984.
Globetrotter Wildlife Guide: Brazil by J Malathronas. New Holland Publishers, 2008.
Birds of Brazil.
Where to watch birds in South America by N Wheatley. Helm, 1994.
Don’t know which country/countries to visit in South America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this
book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to
the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet.
However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered,
lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Southeast Brazil
Many trip reports, some for Southeast Brazil, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these
websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to
Southeast Brazil. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites,
which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Southeast Brazil' below.
Local bird and wildlife guides in Southeast Brazil
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders.
Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are
the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional
skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently,
employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the
wildlife you wish to see.
Accommodation for birders in Southeast Brazil
Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Southeast Brazil
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other
wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably
according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours
last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an
important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals
and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and
transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where
the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the
cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local
transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and
that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those
which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously
lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit.
Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are
certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are
the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional
skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom
tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set
itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes,
whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made
attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are
also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds
or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best
sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the
pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit
people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of
strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small
groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with
a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the
price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Southeast Brazil
include the following.