In addition to the endemic species that make the Atlantic Forest so special, there are several birds that can be considered to be REGUA specialities – species that are perhaps easier to find at REGUA than anywhere else.
Shrike-like Cotinga, Elegant Mourner, or Brazilian Laniisoma (depending on the classification used) is arguably REGUA’s best known speciality. The lowland forest at REGUA is probably the most reliable place in the world for this rare and seldom seen bird. Restricted to primary and well established secondary forest, the nominate race elegans, occurs only in south-east Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, and although forming the largest population, is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN (smaller populations comprising three even rarer subspecies occur along the Andes). It is thought that adults spend the austral winter at lower elevations, moving higher up to breed. Territorial males are frequently found on the Elfin Forest Trail during the spring and early summer. In the winter months the most reliable spots are the lower stretch of the Waterfall Trail (posts 400 – 2000) and the São José Trail (especially near the canopy tower), where immature birds are often encountered.
This Atlantic Forest endemic, classified it as Vulnerable, is almost entirely restricted to south-east Brazil, but also found in eastern Paraguay and occasionally in extreme north-east Argentina. Russet-winged Spadebill occurs in very low densities in primary forest, a very rare habitat, and very occasionally in well established secondary forest.Since 2007 birds have regularly been sighted at REGUA, and two pairs have been ringed. The Elfin Forest, Grey and Waterfall Trails are the best places to try. Early morning during the breeding season is best.
A Near-threatened and highly sought-after endemic of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, described by Ridgely and Tudor in 1989 as “rarely seen”. Historically Black-legged Dacnis were recorded only very rarely at REGUA, and Intervales State Park in São Paulo state was the only reasonably reliable site. Then in March 2009 a pair with young were found in the reforested areas at the wetland, and increasing numbers have been found wintering around the wetland each year since. In June 2012, 20-30 birds were estimated to be present around the wetland, including a flock of 13 birds. January to May is the best time of year, when flocks can also often be seen in the lodge garden. Outside of this period birds are occasionally encountered along the forest trails, especially on flowering trees, suggesting that some breed at REGUA.
The world’s largest snipe and 20% bigger than a Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, but the nocturnal habits and unobtrusive behaviour of this uncommon bird make them extremely difficult to see. Not considered globally threatened although they remain under pressure from hunting. The bulk of the population (of the larger race G. u. gigantea) lies mainly in south-east Brazil with smaller populations elsewhere. Before the reforestation around the REGUA wetland, Giant Snipe were not infrequently seen at the wetland, usually in flight at dusk, and the calls of displaying birds could be heard from the lodge. But our guide Adilei Carvalho da Cunha has spent countless hours at night exploring surrounding pasture and has identified several reliable feeding areas. To have a chance of seeing these birds guests must join an organised night-excursion, which often produce incredible close views of birds on the ground.
Restricted to the Atlantic Forest of Brazil (old records from Peru are no longer considered acceptable), Salvadori’s Antwren is a very rare bird with a tiny range. They are a lowland species generally found in primary or well established secondary forest up to 300 m, but occasionally higher. With almost all of it’s lowland forest habitat either cleared or severely degraded it is considered Vulnerble. Favoured areas at REGUA that provide most sightings include the Elfin Forest Trail (especially around post 1700), the Grey Trail and Waterfall Trail, where they are often seen in mixed species flocks.
Often considered conspecific with the Turquoise Tanager Tangara mexicana of Amazonia, but recently split by the American Ornithologists’ Union, White-bellied Tanager inhabits semi-open habitats including forest edge, forest clearings and also well established secondary forest.Good places to look for them include the first 300 m of the Waterfall Trail (especially around Casa Pesquisa at the very start of the trail, and also in the trees around the old saw mill along the track leading to the start of the trail).
Distributed widely across South America, the Atlantic Forest race, albomarginata differs from the nominate race in being darker with more prominent white barring. Black-banded Owl is not uncommon at REGUA. Roosting birds are occasionally found during the day along the forest trails, but the easiest way to see them is by joining one of our night-birding excursions, where a pair is frequently seen.
This shy bird is endemic to both Brazil and the Atlantic Forest. It is classified by the IUCN as Near-threatened, as the population is declining due to habitat loss and, to a lesser degree, trapping for the cage-bird trade. Blue-bellied Parrot inhabit mid altitude forest up to about 1000 m. There are good numbers at REGUA but they are wary and not easy to see and best found by listening for their unusual and almost thrush-like song. The Elfin Forest Trail (especially the first 900 m), the Grey Trail and the Waterfall Trail (around the junction with the Elfin Forest Trail at post 2350) are the most reliable areas to try. Most sightings are of birds flushed while walking along the trails, but with a lot patience can sometimes be found perched quietly within the canopy.
Masked Duck is the smallest and least known of the Oxyurini tribe or ‘stifftails’. They are widespread, ranging from Mexico and the Caribbean in the north, to north-east Argentina in the south, but generally uncommon to rare and wanders widely. Masked Duck favour freshwater lakes and marshes that have a lot of emergent vegetation, and this, together with their secretive and rather grebe-like habits, make them difficult to find. Masked Duck appeared at the wetlands soon after first area was flooded in 2005. Numbers continued to increase and within a few years it was not unusual to count double figures during September and October, with birds of various ages and both sexes present. However, Masked Duck sightings have become much scarcer of late, with periods of weeks with no sightings and any flocks peaking at just a few individuals. Perhaps the maturing vegetation is making them harder to spot?