Birding Brazil’s Atlantic Forest
Brazil is one of the world’s most exciting birdwatching destinations. With it’s huge size (the fifth largest country in the world), geographical location and diverse range of habitats, Brazil is home to a staggering 1,794 bird species (around 17% of the world’s total) and 223 of these are found only in Brazil.
The Atlantic Forest – a land of unique birds
The Atlantic Forest, located in the south-east of the country on the slopes of the Serra do Mar mountain range, lies almost entirely within Brazil, just creeping into Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Having long been isolated from the Amazon Rainforest by a wide arid plateau, many of the animals and plants found here have evolved into species found nowhere else on Earth. The Atlantic Forest has the highest number of endemic bird species of any biome, with an amazing 199 endemics!
A vanishing ecosystem
Sadly, today the Atlantic Forest is one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Only around 7% of the original forest remains and most of this is highly fragmented. The largest areas exist on mountain sides and steep slopes, where it was too difficult for trees to be felled and the land used for agriculture or pasture. Flat lowland humid forest, that once covered the coastal plain area between the Serra do Mar mountains and the sea, is now very rare indeed.
Lying so close to the ever expanding cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the forest remains under intense pressure from development and is disappearing rapidly. It therefore comes as no surprise that so many of the forest’s birds are rare and endangered. In fact, of the 111 Brazilian bird species listed by BirdLife International as at risk of extinction, 98 are found in the Atlantic Forest.
New and rediscovered species
Amazingly, despite the severe habitat loss, birds new to science are still being discovered in the Atlantic Forest. The first Grey-winged Cotinga Tijuca condita was described as recently as 1980, and between 1990 and 2000 another five new species were found. Other birds thought to have become extinct have been rediscovered. These include the Kinglet Calyptura Calyptura cristata, seen in October 1996 near REGUA after an absence of 100 years.
Birding at REGUA
Whether you are a casual birder or a serious world lister, we offer some of the very best birding in the Atlantic Forest. REGUA comprises forest ranging from 30 m to around 2,000 m above sea level, making our lodge the ideal location to see a good range of Atlantic Forest birds.
REGUA now has a bird list of over 470 species, ranging from forest dwelling toucans, woodpeckers, owls, cotingas, manakins, antbirds and tanagers, to wetland birds such as herons, rails, wildfowl, waders and even some seabirds! REGUA also supports several local specialities.
Endemics and Threatened species found at REGUA
To date 62 Brazilian endemics and 118 Atlantic Forest endemics have been recorded within the REGUA boundary.
The reserve is also home to thirteen species categorised as Threatened on the IUCN Red List – the Endangered Crowned Eagle and Brown-backed Parrotlet, and the Vulnerable White-necked Hawk, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, White-bearded Antshrike, Salvadori’s Antwren, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Russet-winged Spadebill, Bare-throated Bellbird, Black-backed Tanager, Black-legged Dacnis, Buffy-fronted and Temminck’s Seedeaters. In addition, a further 26 species on the reserve list are classified as Near-threatened.
However, its the more common and easily seen Atlantic Forest specialities that make birding here so exciting. Spectacular birds such as Black Hawk-Eagle, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Surucua Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Channel-billed Toucan, Spot-billed Toucanet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Black-billed Scythebill, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed and Blue Manakins, Brazilian Tanager and Blue-naped Chlorophonia are regularly encountered.
Those highly desirable and sculking antbirds are also well represented. 30 species have been recorded at REGUA including Giant, Spot-backed, Tufted and Sooretama Slaty Antshrikes, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Star-throated Antwren, Scaled and Ferruginous Antbirds, Rufous-capped Antthrush and Variegated Antpitta.
Often the forest is so full of birds that it can take hours just to walk a few hundred yards, and during the winter months, large mixed flocks can contain 15 or more species.
Hiring a guide
Our expert bird guides are also available for hire if you would like help with finding and identifying birds. If you are unfamiliar with rainforest birding or the avifauna of Brazil, then hiring a bird guide is strongly recommended. Booking in advance is essential to ensure availability (please see our rates).