The Rufous-sided Crake (Laterallus melanophaius) is one of my favourite wetland bird species. Walking around the wetlands, if one hears a shrill resembling a rising crescendo, you can be sure that this little bird is quite close, yet very hidden.
To see it is quite another matter. The Rufous-sided Crake’s distribution is limited to Brazil and bordering countries, and though it’s considered “least concern”, not much is known about it as it is so incredibly secretive.
They are best found if you are walking around the wetlands early morning or late afternoon when if you are quiet, you can get good views of this bird as it scuttles across from one lake to another or watch as it probes around for small insects to eat.
Sometimes they forage in pairs and move around very quickly. The colours are gorgeous and when a little light catches the rufous feathers, it gleams.
The Moustached Wren (Pheugopedius genibarbis) is quite a common Troglodyte here at REGUA especially around the wetlands. A largish bird with unmistakeable black and white facial stripes, rufousy coloured back and wings, creamy under parts and the characteristic banded tail, it can be found in low undergrowth with its musical chirp feeding on insects.
Adilei attracted this male out of the brush and they had their moment of recognition, a brief duet and off he was looking for his insects.
The Blue-winged Macaw (Primolius maracana) is one of those very special Psittacidae that occur between coastal Brazil spanning west to Bolivia and Argentina. They are found in an area in the North East of Brazil, but they generally seem to occupy the extent of the Atlantic Rainforest.
No longer so common, we remember seeing them nesting in thick bamboo clumps but that was a while ago and before our wetlands were developed. Perhaps they are not fond of water bodies as they are now observed only on the rain shadow side of the Serra do Mar mountain range.
We like to show these friendly yet shy birds to visitors on the Sumidouro trail in search of other endemics such as the Three-toed Jacamar and Serra Antwren. These are all drier region species and one can see these wonderful Macaws on tall Imperial Palms typically chatting together in what appears profound chitchat!
The Atlantic Rainforest endemic Solitary Tinamou (Tinamus solitaries) has to be one of the hardest birds to see at REGUA. I have only once seen one walking a distant trail some years ago. The bird leapt onto the path in front of me and we walked serenely in single file for what seemed like an eternity but perhaps it was only a few seconds before it left. I rejoined the bird group I was with half an hour later and told them excitedly what I had seen. All I could see on their faces were torturous expressions of sadness. Never again!
The Solitary Tinamou occurs throughout the Atlantic Rainforest and suffers from the loss of habitat. Hunters’ reputation depended on bagging these birds, but with the conservation efforts and reduced hunting the populations are rising and the birds can be heard throughout the reserve. Ranger Rildo da Rosa Oliveira found this single egg. He wasn’t able to go back to make sure it hatched, but we do hope all is well for the chick and its parents.
Visitors coming to stay at REGUA can enjoy an excursion to Pico de Caledonia, a granite peak located just two hours drive from REGUA near Nova Friburgo.
Atlantic rainforest endemic species can be found all along the cobbled road that climbs to 2230m above sea level. This is home of the ultra-rare Grey-winged Cotinga (Tijuca condita) found only on trees tops of this mountain range, but probably the eeriest call heard is that of the Black-and-Gold Cotinga (Tijuca atra) a high pitched lonely whistle mixing in the mist.
You can see the Large-tailed Antshrike (Mackenziaena leachii) hopping in the undergrowth as it comes to investigate the visitor. As it reveals his speckled black plumage, it is well camouflaged for such a large bird.
Another rare bird to be found in the area is the Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin (Neopelma chrysolophum).
Whilst this species may not be as quite as flamboyant in colour as many of its Manakin ‘cousins’, its series of random short resonant notes and wonderful prominent yellow crest makes this yet another truly enigmatic species.
The higher altitude of Pico de Caledonia is a marvellous place to visit all year round. However, during our summers when the lowlands can sometimes be hot and humid the altitude here brings a fresh and cooler feel.
Many of these species are known to be in the inaccessible higher elevations of
REGUA’s land, so it is great for us to be able to take our guests to a more readily accessible area.
Caledonia hides many endemic residents but with patience and REGUA’s excellent bird guides they are all there to be seen.
The Brazilian Anthrush (Chamaeza ruficauda) has also been known as Rufous-tailed Antthrush, it has also previously been confused with Cryptic Antthrush (C. meruloides) but the song differs. See here for further details.
It is a relatively common bird locally, but a restricted-range species and can be difficult to locate until it sings. It occurs in protected areas, such as Serra dos Órgãos National Park, which is a lovely day trip out from REGUA.
The call of this bird is an unmistakable ascending stanza that evokes the high altitude mist-laid forests which they inhabit.
I was delighted to hear one calling recently at Macae de Cima and decided to follow it.
After only a few minutes could I see an adult guarding the entrance of its nest, these being hollows in tree trunks which can be quite deep. Standing back and with a zoom lens I was able to get a photograph or two.
Let’s hope they are successful in breeding their young and continue their guard of the forests.
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.