Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
Phone: Toll-free in USA 1-888-721-3555
prime birding places
A FOCUS ON NATURE TOUR
For Birds, Butterflies,
Mammals, and Other Nature
October 23 - November 1, 2015(tour: FON/BR–5 '15)
itinerary, given below, is followed
by a listing of some "Amazonian birds",
with those endemic to Brazil,
and those that are specialties of the region of Manaus ,
and others of interest that occur there.
One of the specialties is the hummingbird,
known as the Crimson Topaz,
Birds of the Amazonian Basin
List & Photo Gallery of Brazil Birds, in 4 parts:
Part #1: Tinamous to Doves Part #2: Macaws to Flycatchers
Part #3: Antshrikes to Woodcreepers Part #4: Vireos to Grosbeaks
Mammals & Some Other Wildlife of Brazil (with some photos)
A List & Photo Gallery of South America Butterflies, in 5 parts (with some photos)
Highlights of some Previous FONT Tours in Brazil
The Basic Itinerary (price follows):
Price: US $2,895 per person, based upon double occupancy.
Single supplement: US $295.
All overnight accommodations.
All meals (from Oct 23 to Oct 31).
Ground transportation within Brazil (land & boat).
Fees & permits for forested areas & reserves to be visited.
Services of the FONT birding leader.
Prices do not include: Drinks and other items of a personal nature. Gratuities. Air transportation to/from & within Brazil.
"Focus On Nature Tours"
can arrange air travel,
seeking the best possible fares.
A deposit of US $500 is required to register for the tour.
From the book, "River of Doubt":
There is a fine book relating the story of how the Rio Roosevelt in Amazonian Brazil came to be called that, and describing the journey there by the former US president Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th Century. That book is entitled "The River of Doubt", by Candice Millard, and it is well worth the read, even if one never goes there, but especially if one does.
The "River of Doubt", as Millard calls it, or the Rio Roosevelt, as it came to be known, was, according to the jacket of the book, "black and uncharted, snaking through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunted in the shadows, piranhas glided through its waters (and still do), and boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron.
After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Theodore (or Teddy) Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon River.
Together with his son Kermit, and Brazil's most famous explorer, Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many, upon his return home, refused to believe it.
Along the way, Roosevelt and the men with him faced an unbelievable sequence of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt himself was at the brink."
THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS PARAPHRASED FROM THE BOOK, THE ''RIVER OF DOUBT'':
Although they had risen well before dawn, it was almost noon by the time Roosevelt, the outdoorsman George Cherrie, and Dr. Jose Cajazeira, and their three paddlers finally climbed into their dugout on the morning of February 28, 1914, and headed off down the river in pursuit of the rest of the expedition, which had left camp nearly 4 hours earlier.
Sympathetic to how difficult it had been, and likely would continue to be, for the naturalists (Cherrie & Cajazeira) to collect specimens for the museum while they were on the River of Doubt, Roosevelt had directed the other two dugouts and two balsas to go ahead without them when Cherrie heard some birdcalls near camp that morning.
Cherrie had made it worth Roosevelt's while, capturing six birds, including a large "red-headed" woodpecker and a brilliant turquoise-blue cotinga.
Once back on the twisting river, Roosevelt and Cherrie resumed their search for signs of life. Their efforts were rewarded by an otter splashing in the river, and two tropical birds called guans.
With his face east in shadow beneath his deep sun helmet, Roosevelt watched as the jungle glided past him, with its towering trees and blue-sky reflected, like a trembling inverted world, in the water's dark surface. He drank in the rich array of beauty, admiring the many brightly-colored butterflies that "fluttered over the river", and marveled at how a spark of sunlight could cloak the electric green jungle. "when the sun broke through rifts in the clouds," he wrote, "his shafts turned the forest to gold."
photographed during a FONT tour in Brazil
As Roosevelt, and the others, paddled quietly down the river, a long, deep roar
suddenly erupted through the jungle. It was the voice of a Howler Monkey, one of
the loudest sounds of any animal on earth. It can be heard from three miles
away, and is formed when the monkey forces air through its large , hollow hyoid
bone. The result is a deep and resonating howl that vibrates through the forest
with a strange intensity, echoing so pervasively that its location can be
nearly impossible to pinpoint.
Worse than the noises that the explorers could recognize were those that none of them could explain. Those strange sounds, which disappeared as quickly as they came, were a mystery even to those who knew the forest best.
From the moment that they launched their boats, Roosevelt and the others knew that the river would be their only guide. Even when they were on land - hunting, porraging, or making campo for the night - they would never stray far from its shores. they needed it for drinking water, cooking, and bathing. They needed it to escape the heat of the rainforest, and most of all, they needed it to carry them home.
As important as the river was to the expedition, it was, however, a capricious and unreliable ally. Like many rivers, in South America and elsewhere, it could change character quickly and dramatically over a very short distance, and with profound consequences for an expedition. Swollen and swift during the rainy season, it was cluttered with dangerous debris and pocked with shifting whirlpools that could flip a canoe and trap a man under the water in a matter of seconds.
Even more complex and dangerous than the river itself were the fishes, mammals, and reptiles that inhabited it. Like the rainforest that surrounds and depends upon it, the Amazon river system is a prodigy of speciation and diversity, serving as home to more than three thousand species of freshwater fishes - more than any other river system on earth.
Its waters are crowded with creatures of nearly every size, shape, and evolutionary adaptation, from tiny neon tetras to thousand-pound manatees, to pink freshwater boto dolphins, to stringrays, to armor-plated catfishes, to bullsharks.
By comparison, the entire Missouri and Mississippi river system that drains much of North America has only about 375 fish species.
Able to swim freely through large swarths of the jungle during the rainy season, for example, certain Amazonian fish, such as the tambaqui, have evolved teeth that look like sheep molars and are tough enough to crack open even the hard, cannonball-sized shell of the Brazil Nut.
The ancient, eellike South American lungfish has lungs as well as gills. Unless it surfaces every four to ten minutes for a gulp of air, it will drown. But during the dry season, while other fishes around it die as the ponds and streams dry up, the lungfish survives by burrowing into the mid and taking oxygen from the air.
Still another species, the so-called four-eyed fish, has eyes that are divided in two at the waterline by a band of tissue. With two separate sets of corneas and retinas, the fish can search for predators in the sky above and at the same time look for danger in the water below.
Many of these strange adaptations are geared toward self-defense. others are designed to help the fish become better, faster, smarter predators.
There are electric fishes that eat northing but the tails of other electric fish, which can regenerate their appendages, thus ensuring the predator a limitless food supply.
Other fish have evolved to eat prey that live outside of their own immediate ecosystem. The three-foot long arawana, for example, has a huge mouth and a bony tongue and can leap twice its body length. Nicknamed the "water monkey", it snatches large insects, reptiles, and even small birds from the low branches of overhanging trees.
The riverine creatures that the members of the expedition were most interested in, however, were those that were dangerous to man.
The most visible threats were the fifteen-foot-long Black Caiman, which generally lay low near their nests of rotting debris and vanished into the water as the expedition's canoes passed by. Cherrie in particular had great respect for the "South American alligator". He had nearly lost his life to one while on an expedition on the Orinoco.
The river's other inhabitants were largely invisible from the expedition's dugouts, but the fact that they could not be seen only heightened the oppressive sense of danger they instilled in the men.
Aboard their crude, heavily loaded boats, they sat at most just six inches above the water, and would court danger whenever one of them dangled his foot overboard or trailed his fingers in the current.
If one of their boats tipped over in a whirlpool or rapid, the men would find themselves dumped in teh middle of the river with no option but a frightening swim to shore.
Launching and landing the boats, often chest-deep in water amid the heavy underbrush that lined the riverbank, the men were vulnerable to the predatory fish, waterborne snakes, and other creatures they were disturbing.
Even the mundane necessity of bathing was a source on ongoing concern. but, in the mud and jungle heat, the men grew willing to take their chances.
Roosevelt himself cooled off in the river at every opportunity. Floating in the shallow water near the bank, the 220-pound former president looked to Rondon "like some sort of a great, fat fish which has come to the surface", defying the dangers that surrounded him.
The fish that inspired the greatest fear among the men, during the expedition in 1913-14, were the candiru and the piranha.
The candiru is a tiny, almost transparent catfish, sharp-spined, and the only animal other than the vampire bat that is known solely to survive on blood. Most species of candiru are only about an inch long, and they usually make their living by swimming into the gill chambers of larger fish. To humans, this little fish is a potentially lethal menace. although it is a rare occurrence, it can enter an orifice and parasitize, thus necessitating a cure that can be as bad as the affliction.
The piranha is also attracted by blood, and it can be drawn to the kind of commotion that a bathing man might make.
Piranhas have been known to swim in groups of more than a hundred, spreading out to scout for prey and then alerting the others, probably by sound, when they find it.
Of the approximately 20 piranha species, most prefer to attack something their own size or smaller, and they are scavengers, especially during the rainy season, when there is more prey for them.
However, their muscular jaws and sawlike teeth can make quick work of a living creature of any size and strength, from a waterbird to a monkey, to even an ox.
Thus, a quick overview, from the Millard book, of some an Amazonian river and some of its wildlife, but, no need for concern, during our tour, we will be with good accommodations, and always being careful and safe, everywhere on land and when on a boat.. And, no, swimming in the river is not compulsory!
A List of some of the Amazonian Birds in Brazil:
Masked Crimson Tanager
Gray (formerly Common) Potoo
Southern Barred Woodcreeper
Red-billed Pied Tanager
To Top of Page.