Ever wonder what the loudest bird on Earth is? The outrageous Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) is certainly a top contender! While hiking up the Green Trail here at REGUA, singing males can be heard from over a kilometre away.
The call each male belts from his featherless blue-skinned throat sounds like a mallet striking an iron pipe, and echoes down the valley in rhythmic series. As we climb higher up the mountain trail, the boinks and bonks of competing males get louder and louder, but we can often only catch glimpses of them perched high in treetops.
Today, volunteer bird guide Bobby found our lucky visitor group, front row seats to an ear-splitting performance by a young male singing close beneath the canopy. Bare-throated Bellbirds are endemic to the Atlantic Forest, found nowhere else on Earth. These large, fruit-loving passerines perform crucial seed dispersing services for many lowland and montane trees. Unfortunately, drastic logging of the Atlantic Forest for development, combined with illegal poaching for the caged-bird trade, has led to declining populations of this spectacular species and a Vulnerable designation by IUCN. But thanks to REGUA, the forest home of these contending males along the Green Trail is safe into the future. And they can return the favor by dispersing their favorite fruit trees throughout the reserve, helping the forest to grow!
As I was patrolling the Brown Trail today, I noticed a pair of Silvery-flanked Antwrens (Myrmotherula luctosa) gathering dry leaves and taking them into the branches of a small tree. I carefully followed their lead and discovered a little cup nest taking shape! In order to avoid disturbing their work with my observation, I set up my camera on a tripod and left.
This short highlights reel reveals that male and female team up to weave a safe place for raising a family.
Volunteer Bird Guide
If you would like to volunteer at REGUA, see our Volunteer page for more details
Walking by the wetlands at REGUA along the Yellow or Brown trail, a small bird can surprise many with its fierce song of bravado.
One has to peer through the tangles of brush to catch a glimpse of the melodious Long-billed Wren (Cantorchilus longirostris), one of the Atlantic Rainforest endemic species. Though the call is well known, its intensity is surprising but it is merely reminding us that we are entering his territory.
The Yellow and Brown trails at REGUA pass through the middle of replanted lowland forest, and the presence of this species indicates the forest has provided a new home for many avian species.
This is what we want, a new habitat we created that now provides many new homes for its true inhabitants.
REGUA was delighted to receive Pedro Develey, the CEO of Birdlife International Brazil partner “SAVE” (Sociedade das Aves do Brasil) at REGUA. His visit was partly to discuss the future reintroduction of the Black-fronted Piping-guans (Pipile jacutinga).
Pedro’s stay at REGUA was also an opportunity to show off our current tree planting area and the success of the wetland restoration. Pedro had a great time and returned to São Paulo with a decent bird list and was especially pleased to see the variety of avian species in REGUA’s two year old forest.
He left us happy and content with the news that the reintroduction project is still ongoing. It’s crucial that a project of this importance develops slowly and steadily and all the pieces are being placed firmly in position. Thanks Pedro!!
The austral winter months see fewer visiting birders than the spring, when birds are more vocal and on territory, but winter birding in the Atlantic Forest brings its own rewards and is equally exciting. Some species are actually much easier to find at this time of year, including the rare Black-legged Dacnis and large mixed-species flocks in the forest make for exciting experiences. Also, the lodge garden feeders are much busier, with many species that breed at higher elevations moving lower where temperatures are higher. Here are the avian highlights on the reserve for June and July.
Casa Anibal/4×4: Black Hawk-Eagle, Spot-billed Toucanet, Saw-billed Hermit, Spot-breasted Antvireo, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Green-headed Tanager and Red-necked Tanager.
Lodge garden: Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (the first record for the garden on 2 July), Black-banded Owl (5-6 July), up to 5 Black-legged Dacnis, Common Potoo, 1 White-eyed Parakeet (6 July), Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Toco Toucan, lots of Channel-billed Toucan, Tropical Parula, White-bellied Tanager, Azure-shoulder Tanager, Yellow-backed Tanager, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Purple-throated Euphonia and Buff-throated Saltator.
Wetland Trail: Grey-bellied Spinetail, female Masked Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Tataupa Tinamou, Boat-billed Heron, up to 12 Capped Heron (an excellent number), lots of Snowy Egret (they seem to be increasing at REGUA), Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, Laughing Falcon, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (small numbers over the wetland in the evenings), Rufous-sided Crake, Blackish Rail, Limpkin, Amazon Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, Grey-capped Tyrannulet, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant (both very unusual here), Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Hooded Tanager and Black-capped Donacobius.
Elsewhere at REGUA, Shrike-like Cotinga, a male Tufted Antshrike and White-bibbed Antbird were all seen along the trail to the São José Tower, a Harris’s Hawk, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle and Rufous-fronted Thornbird (the later now much scarcer at REGUA now that the reforestation is becoming more established) were seen along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa, and the 2 Tropical Screech-Owls were still roosting by the conservation centre.
On our night-birding excursion Giant Snipe, Mottled Owl, Scissor-tailed Nightjar and Collared Forest-Falcon were among the birds seen.
On 24 July, Raquel and New Zealand volunteer Marc Vanwoerkom were helping me to map a property that has been offered to REGUA adjacent to the João Paulo Farm. Clambering up steep hillsides is never fun, but the work has to be done to accurately map properties with GPS and avoid issues on property size and location.
The day ended well and we were walking home when to our surprise we found a chattering bunch of Yellow-rumped Marshbirds Pseudoleistes guirahuro perched on a shrub in the pastures. This is rare bird in Rio de Janeiro state and Marc got some great photos and I managed a register shot.
Yellow-rumped Marshbird is a species of marshland and grassland, with a distribution covering much of southern Brazil but also east Paraguay, northern Uruguay north-east Argentina. They are not usually found in Rio de Janeiro state and this is the first time we have seen this bird so close to REGUA land. Perhaps it is spreading eastwards? Nevertheless, it is a stunning bird and I am hopeful we can get some better images soon.
Black-legged Dacnis (Dacnis nigripes) is considered a threatened species on the IUCN red list, but it can still be found in gregarious groups on the Reserve feeding on Trema micrantha fruit.
Just a few years ago REGUA started planting forests on the lowland and the presence of this species signalled that our planting was successful.
Black-legged Dacnis is sparsely recorded along coastal Brazil and found generally in primary and good secondary forest feeding in mixed flocks.
The male might be easily confused with Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) which has pink legs, but the female is very different, and therefore easy to tell apart.
Adilei has even found both varieties feeding together in high altitude forests. As breeding takes place between October and February, their presence in May on the lowlands suggests they are content to stay, so we shall be looking after them and checking their behaviour.
Whilst walking the Yellow Trail which meanders around the wetlands, Adilei took this splendid image of a female Sungrebe (Heliornis fuluca). Since the appearance of REGUA’s third Sungrebe in June 2016, at least three and perhaps four birds have been regularly sighted at REGUA.
Almost a year passed with a pair regularly seen on the wetlands, until recently when they became very elusive. It could be that they are hiding in the dense undergrowth around the wetland, breeding or nurturing their young.
According to literature this species has a unique feature – a small pocket under their wings in which they are able to carry their young, even in flight. Though a species of least concern (IUCN Red data list), many birders from Rio de Janeiro have visited the wetland keen to photograph them. Very little is known of their habits so we have our fingers crossed that they will be back in the near future.
The Red-ruffed Fruitcrow Pyroderus scutatus is high on visitors wish-lists, but it is scarce and a very hard bird to see well. However this splendid bird appeared in the lodge garden on the 2nd July and was seen by two lucky people sitting quietly on the veranda. It stayed in the garden for a few minutes allowing a series of photos to be taken before flying off when someone came up the drive.