The “Near threatened” Brown Tanager species (Orchesticus abeilli) like many tanagers, is an arboreal species generally associated with higher altitude forest where occasio
nally one can find it feeding with in a mixed tanager flock. Seeing one in tree canopy is quite usual, but viewing one by the REGUA tower at lowland altitude appears a little out of place.
It is an uncommon tanager and habitat loss has not improved things for it, Serra dos Órgãos National Park, just two hours drive from REGUA, is one of several protected areas where this species has been found, but the risk of deforestation outside of the safety of Reserves such as REGUA and the National Park mean the species is becoming more isolated.
The Brown Tanager can be confused with the Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, the same rufous supercilliary line, but the typically “tanageresque” thick bill is the giveaway. These birds like insects but will eat small fruit.
So why is it around? Another of Natures mysteries, but it certainly was thrilling to view from the tower offering great sightings and photographic opportunities to those with cameras and binoculars.
Whilst birders pack their binoculars, telescopes and long camera lenses to photograph the wonderful Neotropical birds at REGUA, we often reflect on why these colourful tanagers are found at different altitudes, as if the bird’s territories are indeed stratified.
In my garden, at low elevation, we often find the Green-headed tanager flying in mixed flocks together with Violaceous Euphonia and Blue Dacnis.
Occasionally a woodcreeper, xenops, ant-tanager and even a White-barred Piculet will share the flittering spectacle as they look for insects between leaves, for small fruit and any other tasty morsels.
However we do not find the mid-elevation Brassy-breasted Tanagers, whose busy flocks are only to be found at the higher altitudes.
Where can we see the Gilt-edged Tanager? Occasionally they will be seen at the very top of the mountains or on the drier leeward slopes of the deciduous Mata Atlántica.
This shows us that these colourful beauties help to indicate the altitude, that tanagers aside from their natural colourful plumages are “stratospheric” in more ways than one.
Though Birdlife and IUCN state the Long tailed Potoo (Nyctibius aethereus) occurs across all South America, it also warns the population is declining.
The species refined distribution map suggests that in some time the Atlantic Rainforest and the Amazonian species might well be split. This magical bird is rarely seen and highly desired by most bird observers around the globe. With its nocturnal habits, its call is a long loud “Raaauuulll…” and the local population is scared by its unexpected call.
It is usually found perched on snags and high stumps and although it’s a large bird, it is well camouflaged and slow to move that often one just misses it. This species requires good habitat and we are lucky to have one that doesn’t mind being photographed.
Lee Dingain spent lot of time observing this species and wrote an excellent paper that was published in Neotropical Birding.
The story of the reintroduction of Black-fronted Piping-Guan (Aburria jacutinga) at REGUA continues.
Alecsandra Tassoni, is SAVE Brasil’s Black-Fronted-Piping-Guan project coordinator and will be visiting REGUA to supervise the arrival of the birds.
The two females and one male come from a captive-breeding project in Paraná state. Their health tests were undertaken at UENF (Universidade Estadual Norte Fluminense) in Rio de Janeiro state prior to their transfer to São Paulo where they are currently being monitored.
Scanning and observation are the techniques used to study their behaviour which include assessing their food demands. There will also be predator training to ensure the birds react naturally to predators once they leave their release pen.
The Black-Fronted-Piping-Guan reintroduction project at REGUA is funded by ‘O Boticário’ cosmetic company which is a long- standing Birdlife International partner.
REGUA looks forward to the next exciting part of the story.
Photograph published with the kind permission of SAVE Brasil and O Boticário Foundation.
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.