PO Box 9021, Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
E-mail: font@focusonnature.com
Phone Toll-free: 1-888-721-3555
 or 302/529-1876

FROM some past


Iguacu Falls
(photo during the FONT Brazil Tour 
in August 2008,
visited since then during 
the FONT tour in August 2011)


Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

During a FONT Brazil Tour in Mato Grosso do Sul during September 2006, an assortment of mammals seen during one night's "safari" included: 

Some of the FONT group participants 
on the Brazil Tour in Mato Grosso do Sul in September 2006,
who saw the animals & birds noted above.

The tour summaries here are given with the most-recent first.
For some tours there are links below for longer narratives. Also there are links to UPCOMING TOUR ITINERARIES, and lists (some with photos) of BIRDS, MAMMALS, and OTHER NATURE. 

Some Previous FONT Tours in Brazil:

Iguaçu Falls & Mato Grosso do Sul - August 2011

Southeast Brazil & Minas Gerais - May 2011

Rio Grande do Sul & Mato Grosso do Sul (& Uruguay) - October 2010

Amazonia - February 2010

Minas Gerais & Rio Grande do Sul - October 2009 

Southeast Brazil - August 2009

Mato Grosso - March 2009

Southeast Brazil, Iguacu Falls, & Mato Grosso - July/August 2008

Southeast Brazil, Minas Gerais  & Mato Grosso - March 2008

Southeast Brazil, Minas Gerais & Mato Grosso - August 2007

Minas Gerais & Rio Grande do Sul - October 2006

Iguacu Falls, Mato Grosso & Minas Gerais - September 2006

Atlantic & Amazonian Forests - August/September 2005

Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso & Southeast Brazil - October 2004

Iguacu Falls, Mato Grosso, & Southeast Brazil - July/August 2004

Mato Grosso - August 2003

Rio Grande do Sul - August 2003

Minas Gerais - August 2002

Mato Grosso - July-August 2002

Southeast Brazil - July 2002

Mato Grosso & Southeast Brazil - October 2001

Mato Grosso & Southeast Brazil - August-September 2001

In the FONT Archives: 
Some Photos of People, Places & More during Previous FONT tours in Brazil

In all, there have been 50 FONT birding & nature tours in Brazil.

This White-eared Puffbird was photographed
during the FONT tour in Minas Gerais, Brazil in October 2009.  
(photo by Marie Gardner)

Additional Links:

A Complete List of Brazil Birds, noting those during previous FONT tours, in 4 parts: 
Part #1:  Tinamous to Doves     Part #2:  Macaws to Flycatchers     
Part #3: Antshrikes to Woodcreepers     Part #4: Vireos to Grosbeaks

Birds in Mato Grosso & Mato Grosso do Sul     Birds in Minas Gerais

Birds in Southeast Brazil     Birds in Rio Grande do Sul

Rare Birds during FONT Tours in Brazil  (with some photos)

Mammals & Some Other Wildlife during FONT Brazil Tours  (with some photos)  

These adult Jabirus with a young
were photographed during the FONT Brazil tour
in Mato Grosso do Sul in September 2006.
More recently, parent Jabirus with their young
were seen at their nest during our tour
in Mato Grosso do Sul in August 2011.
Jabirus, often in large numbers, have been seen
during all of our tours in the Pantanal
in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso & Mato Grosso do Sul.

BRAZIL  (Iguaçu Falls & Mato Grosso do Sul) - August 2011

Our August 2011 tour in Brazil was at Iguazu Falls and in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, including the Pantanal, a region known for its wonderful wildlife, with large concentrations of birds, along with mammals and other nature.
It was the 50th FONT tour in Brazil, since 1991.

Over the years, we've dubbed this as our "Jabiru & Jaguar Tour". Seeing the Jabiru is easy. But seeing the Jaguar is not.

Among the Jabirus that we saw in August 2011 were 2 parents with 2 young birds on a big nest high in a tree. After flying in, one of the parents fed both of the two hungry youngsters.  

We've seen Jaguar during 4 of our previous Brazilian tours in Mato Grosso do Sul, once, prior to this tour,  during the day, and 3 times previously at night.

During the morning of August 10, 2011, at about 10 o'clock we had another daytime Jaguar sighting. It was by a channel of water, at a concrete covert, for just a short while, before disappearing into the covert and probably out the other side.

We travel about in that area on high, open vehicles. The previous night, in such a vehicle, we enjoyed a great look at an Ocelot, after seeing 3 Giant Anteaters, Crab-eating Foxes, Marsh Deer, 6-banded or Yellow Armadillos, Capybaras, and Caiman. In all, there were 18 species of mammals during the tour, not including any bats. 

Also as we traveled about that night, we saw 3 species of nightjars, and heard another.

Among the numerous birds during the tour were the Jabirus (the largest American stork), the Hyacinth Macaw (the largest parrot in the world), the Greater Rhea (the largest American bird), and the Toco Toucan (the largest toucan). In all, well over 200 species of birds.

Raptors during the tour included: Aplomado Falcon, Snail Kite (hundreds of them), Crane Hawk (seen exceptionally well), Great Black Hawk, Savanna Hawk, Crowned Solitary Eagle, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, White-tailed Hawk, and Black-collared Hawk among others.   

Parrots during the tour, in addition to the Hyacinth Macaw, included: Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Red-and-green Macaw (a good number enjoyed especially at a large limestone sinkhole), Golden-collared Macaw, White-eyed Parakeet, Peach-fronted Parakeet, the Nanday, or Black-hooded Parakeet, Reddish-bellied Parakeet, Blaze-winged Parakeet, Monk Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, and Turquoise-fronted and Orange-winged Amazons.   

Another bird that we saw nicely during this Brazilian tour is in the photo below. Name it rightly, and you're entitled to a 10 per cent discount on any future FONT tour. 

The area of Iguazu Falls was particularly good for butterflies, as it has been during FONT tours in the past. A good number of about 3 dozen species were seen, including various crackers, leafwings, longwings, sisters, swallowtails, the Red Rim (Biblis hyperia), and a few species of "88s"  in the Diaethria and Callicore genera.

Red Rim

Eighty-eight Butterfly, 
Diaethria clymena



List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - August 2011

BRAZIL (Southeast) - May 2011

Our Brazil tour in May 2011 came to be as a result of the earthquake and related problems in Japan a couple months earlier. We normally have gone to Japan in May. But instead, in Brazil, we went to the southeast part of the country, including the more-inland area of Minas Gerais. 

During the tour, much of the nature we observed were birds
And there were
some nice butterflies
But, particularly interesting were mammals, including
the largest of the monkeys in the New World, an animal known as the Muriqui.  
It was the Northern Muriqui that we saw, notable not just for being the
biggest, but for being one of the rarest mammals in the world. The Muriquis are nearly 5 feet tall, and the total population of the species is about 500 individuals. We were fortunate to see a group of them well, in a fine forest that has been preserved because it has been their home.

There are, in all, about a hundred species of monkeys known to be in Brazil. But among them, the Muriqui is special. It has been written that, as a conservation symbol, the Muriqui is for Brazil as the Giant Panda is for China.

Other mammals during the tour included 5 other species of monkeys: Brown Howler (the rarest of the howlers), Black Tufted Capuchin, Masked Titi, Buffy-headed Marmoset, and Buffy-tufted Marmoset. Also seen during the tour was the Maned Wolf.

Among the nearly 300 species of birds, some of the most notable were: Black Hawk-Eagle, Black-bellied Thorntail, Hyacinth Visoprbearer (two of the numerous hummingbirds during the tour), Three-toed Jacamar, Robust Woodpecker, Pin-tailed Manakin, Sharpbill, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Cipo Canastero, Black-billed Scythebill, Forbes's Blackbird (one of the rarest birds in Brazil), Campo Troupial, and Black-masked Finch. These were in addition to a good assortment of tanagers, toucans, trogons, and other birds of the Neotropics.

As was the Swallow-tailed Cotinga, among the birds just mentioned, the male
Pin-tailed Manakin was truly a favorite, with its colorful plumage of red, black, white, and green, in addition to its orange eyes. Other Manakins were also seen well and enjoyed during the tour: the Blue, and the White-bearded.

Relating to the birds, the manakins alone made Brazil a nice place to be in May, but of course the tour was so much more with the Muriquis.


More about the May 2011 FONT Tour in Brazil

List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - May 2011  

A Gallery of Photos from the May 2011 FONT Tour in Brazil

BRAZIL - (far-southern & the Pantanal)  & uruguay
October 2010

This tour, mostly in Brazil, was in the southernmost state in that big country - the state known as Rio Grande do Sul
Also visited was the southernmost of the two Brazilian states containing the Pantanal - that state, Mato Grosso do Sul. Both of those "southern states" ("do Sul") are bird-rich. Also during our October 2010 tour, we spent parts of two days in Uruguay, where we saw many birds as well.

We've been in both of the "do Sul" states during previous FONT tours, and like to go back, because for birds there is so much to see and enjoy.

In Rio Grande do Sul, in October 2010, there were, as there have been for us in the past: large numbers of waterbirds, notably including screamers, swans, ducks, spoonbills, limpkins, ibises, herons, and egrets, and gulls and terns. Shorebirds were also in good supply, as were some birds of prey. Particularly notable among the ducks was the beautiful Ringed Teal.
Particularly notable among the birds of prey were two species of Harriers, the Long-winged and the Cinereous. And the Snail Kites were so abundant that we probably saw more in a few days than we probably would otherwise in our lives.

Most of the big flocks of birds were in southern Rio Grande do Sul, but birding was also exceptional for us further north in the state, where we visited some beautiful habitat in the "high campo" with some wonderful remnants of Araucaria ("Monkey-puzzle") trees.

Not just common birds, but some rare birds were enjoyed in Rio Grande do Sul, including the very-local Long-tailed Cinclodes (described as recently as 1969), the Black-and-white Monjita, and another rarity with which it has a symbiotic relationship, the Saffron-cowled Blackbird. That blackbird was not the only special member of its tribe during our tour. We were also treated to the Scarlet-headed Blackbird, another fine bird to see.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, there were mammals, in addition to birds, including 5 Giant Anteaters (1 a mother with a baby on her back), and 2 Ocelots that we saw wonderfully well. These animals were seen after dark on excursions, during which Striped Owls and various nightjars were also seen nicely.

A complete list of the about 290 species of birds, along with more regarding our October 2010 tour in Brazil, and in Uruguay, can be found thru the links below - including why Uruguay was such a nice and interesting place to visit. 


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - October 2010

A Gallery of Photos from the October 2010 FONT Tour in Brazil & Uruguay

BRAZIL - (Amazonia)
February 2010

During this tour, in Amazonian Brazil, included a place with both Hoatzin & Harpy - Harpy Eagle, that is. It was a place in a system of Amazon waters, where we traveled mostly by boat along rivers and channels, but also where we hiked on trails in the rainforest.

Among our favorite birds were the Agami Heron and Horned Screamers, which were in addition to a good assortment of raptors, parrots and parakeets, toucans, and trogons. Small birds that were nice to see were the hummingbirds, manakins, and a tame little creature in the forest called the Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin.

But the best of our more than 200 species of birds was the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock. Not only did we see so very well the brilliantly-colored orange males, like beacons in the forest, we enjoyed the rare sight of a female Cock-of-the-Rock sitting on its nest, on a ledge of a big rock, at a grotto by the entrance to a cave, in which, during the day, numerous bats were roosting.

Other mammals during the tour included various monkeys: the Golden-handed Tamarins, White-bearded Sakis, Brown Capuchins, and the noisy Red Howler Monkeys. In the water, we saw both Gray Dolphins and Pink River Dolphins. The Amazonian Manatee was there also.

Among other birds (too many to note here), a few, however, should be mentioned, including: the hollering of a group of Red-throated Caracaras, along with the raucous calls of macaws, that late one afternoon, made the normally loud Mealy Amazons and Red-fan Parrots seem rather quiet by comparison.


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - February 2010

Birds of the Amazon Basin


A Long-winged Harrier during the FONT October 2009 Brazil Tour
in Rio Grande do Sul
(photo by Marie Gardner)


BRAZIL (Minas Gerais & Rio Grande do Sul)
October 2009 

When it was fall to the north of the Equator, and spring to the south, we headed to where it was springtime with birds singing, displaying, ands in their breeding attire. 
We experienced our "second spring of 2009", from October 11 to 23, as we did our 46th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, and the first during which we ventured into Uruguay (where we saw 23 species of birds on the grounds of an old fort, not too far from the coast).
In Brazil, we were in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul. The second of these is the southernmost Brazilian state, with the character of nearby Argentina & Uruguay. And with birds more in tune with those more-southerly countries, such as: Coscoroba & Black-necked Swans, and waterbirds including 3 species of coots and ducks such as the Red Shoveler, and landbirds such as the Warbling Doradito and Spectacled Tyrant.

Some notable birds during our October '09 tour included the localized hummingbird known as the Hyacinth Visorbearer, the rare flycatcher named the Black-and-white Monjita, and the large raptor called the Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle.
We saw 8 species of terns in one area, with probably the best for us being the Snowy-crowned, or Trudeau's, Tern. Also in that one area, we saw 4 species of gulls, with the rarest being the Olrog's, formerly part of the Band-tailed, Gull.     

During our two-week dip into the South American spring, we enjoyed birds that ranged from a penguin to parrots. Also, a motmot & manakins and much more in the realm of birds (we found nearly 300 species), while other nature during the tour included monkeys & marmosets, and 2 nights with the Maned Wolf.

Two of the hummingbirds
during our October '09 tour in Brazil.
Above: a Planalto Hermit getting a breakfast of bugs
at a wall of an old monastery, and
Below: a Hyacinth Visorbearer with color
even on a rainy, cloudy morning. 


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Brazil Tour - October 2009

A Gallery of Photos from the October 2009 FONT Tour in Brazil 

Birds of Minas Gerais

Birds of Rio Grande do Sul & adjacent Uruguay

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

BRAZIL (Southeast)
August 2009

From August 16 to 24,'09, we did our 45th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil. 
It was in the southeastern part of the country, along the seacoast and in the mountains. Much of our birding in those areas, and in between, was in the Atlantic Forest - an arc of native forest mostly in Brazil, with a number of birds, animals, and plants, either endemic to southeastern Brazil or nearly so.

Birds, in those categories, that were particularly notable included tanagers and hummingbirds
Many of those birds and others during the tour were colorful indeed with various hues of blues, greens, yellows, and more. In addition to about 20 species of tanagers, other bright, colorful birds included euphonias, chlorophonia, dacnis, and honeycreeper.

The male of one of the tanagers was mostly bright red - the Brazilian Tanager, with the local name in Portuguese of "Sangue do Boi", which translated means "blood of the bull".
Just as red were the Scarlet Ibises that we saw at a coastal lagoon. What a bright flock they were as they fed in the shallow water by our boat!


Brazilian Tanager

Scarlet Ibis

Also among the colorful birds that we saw were toucans and toucanets. Even a change of an English still relates to colors: what has been called the Red-breasted Toucan is now known as the Green-billed Toucan. (And of course, red & green are not its only colors.)

Other notable birds included a couple species of Herons: the Capped and the Whistling. And a couple species of Hawks: the White-necked and the Mantled. Both of those raptors are restricted to southeast Brazil.

Whistling Heron

The Robust Woodpecker that we saw at its hole in a tree by the parking lot where we stayed is in the same genus as one formerly in North America - the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird no longer seen going in and out of any hole in a tree.

Among the woodcreepers we saw, one species was especially interesting. Some Plain-winged Woodcreepers were traveling in the forest with a group of monkeys - Black Tufted Capuchins. Something about those monkeys was attractive to the woodcreepers, as they went up & down the trees beneath them.

Two species of our flycatchers, during the tour, had long tails - one, aptly named the Long-tailed Tyrant, that we saw one place after another, and another that we saw only once, the Streamer-tailed Tyrant. The second of these has always been for us a wonderful bird to see, being an attractive bird, mostly gray with some burgundy.

But, as noted, it was the tanagers and hummingbirds that this time for us were the avian stars of the tour. Being so close to them and their frenzy of activity, at the places we visited with feeders, was, more than once, an experience to be savored - and it was!

Prior to this tour, our cumulative tally of birds in Southeast Brazil was 491 species. 5 "new ones" were added in August '09 to that list.
Maybe the best was Green-and-rufous Kingfisher that we saw closely and well as we were standing on a bridge. But also nice were the other 4: the Gray Hawk, Large-billed Tern, Nacunda Nighthawk, and Sooty-fronted Spinetail.
In all, 228 species of birds were found during our Southeast Brazil Tour in August 2009.


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour in August 2009

Birds in Southeast Brazil  (with photos) 

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

An " Eighty-eight Butterfly", Diaethria clymena,
photographed during the August 2009 FONT tour in southeast Brazil 
(this & the following 2 photos by Tom Ludes)

A Morpho Butterfly, having just feasted on a mango,
also photographed in southeast Brazil during the August 2009 FONT tour.   

A large moth, on a wooden fence,
during the day
This unusual creature was also photographed
during the August 2009 FONT Southeast Brazil tour.

BRAZIL (Mato Grosso do Sul & Mato Grosso) & nearby BOLIVIA
March 2009

This was the 44th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, during which there were some tremendous highlights, among them a Jaguar (1 of 3 species of wild cats during one night's excursion), a Harpy Eagle on a nest, as many as 40 Hyacinth Macaws seen closely, and nearly 400 Jabirus at one place - on an island in a river. Over 300 of the big, tall Jabirus were standing or walking about on short grass. The others were soaring about on thermals in the sky above. This tour also included a sojourn into neighboring Bolivia.      

When this Morpho Butterfly (Morpho achilles) opens its wings and flies, 
it is a most brilliant blue.
This photograph was taken during the FONT birding & nature tour 
in Mato Grosso, Brazil in March 2009.
(Photo by Patricia Yoder.)


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - March '09

Birds in Mato Grosso do Sul & Mato Grosso  (with some photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil


To Top of Page

BRAZIL (Southeast Brazil, Iguacu Falls & Mato Grosso do Sul) 
July/August 2008

Again, during this FONT tour in Brazil, our 43rd, a nice assortment of birds & animals were seen. Also, particularly in the area of Iguacu Falls, there was a tremendous variety of butterflies.
Among the mammals during the tour, highlights included: a wonderful look at a Brazilian Tapir, as many as 7 Giant Anteaters in one day (including a mother with a young animal on its back), a fine look at an Ocelot, and two Giant Otters seen very well.
Nearly 300 species of birds were found. 
Among the last of them, on August 18th, on the grass at the airport in Campo Grande, there was, in addition to Red-winged Tinamous, an Upland Sandpiper, having just flown in from North America. 
On a nearby wire, that day, there were 3 Purple Martins, also having just come from North America. 


List of Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - July/August '08

Birds in Mato Grosso do Sul (with photos)

Birds in Southeast Brazil (with photos) 

Butterflies of Brazil & Argentina, including those at Iguazu Falls (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

To Top of Page


BRAZIL (Southeast Brazil, Minas Gerais, & Mato Grosso)
March 2008

The above photo of odd-looking Guira Cuckoos
was taken during the FONT tour in Brazil in March 2008.
Subsequently, it was chosen by National Geographic
to be in its web-site.

(Above photo by Marie Gardner) 

This & the longer narrative from the link below were written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

During this, the 42nd FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, again, as during our tours there in the past, wonderful birds and animals were seen.
Such tours in Brazil usually bring to mind notable birds as the Hyacinth Macaw and the Jabiru. These we saw, but also there were so many other birds, and among them highlights including the very rare Brazilian Merganser, a pair of Crowned Solitary Eagles, the Cock-tailed Tyrant, and the tiny & very localized Buff-throated Purpletuft
This was the 6th FONT tour with the Brazilian Merganser, one of the rarest birds in the world. (That's 6 times out of 7 tries for that bird.)
Among the mammals during the tour, an Ocelot was seen so nicely as it walked backed & forth on a dirt road ahead of us, and a Maned Three-toed Sloth was seen, in an area where not expected - in lowland Atlantic Forest near the Brazilian Seacoast. But see it we did, and so very well, as it so very slowly, made its way down a tree in front of us.     
Other animals that we saw included: Six-banded Armadillo, Tapiti (or Forest Rabbit), Paca, Capybara, the cat known as the Jaguarundi, Crab-eating and Hoary Foxes, Crab-eating Raccoon, Neotropical River Otter, and 3 species of deer
Back again to the Maned Three-toed Sloth, it's a rare and endangered mammal, and was a "new one" for FONT in Brazil, being the 69th species of mammal for us there (excluding bats - and we saw a few of them too).      
Also during our March '08 Brazil tour, a nice assortment of butterflies was seen.  
A listing of the birds (with a number of photographs of them, and the mammals & butterflies) is with the longer tour narrative reached from the above link. 


More about the FONT Brazil Tour in March 2008

List of Birds during our Brazil Tour - March 2008 

A Photographic Sampling of Nature & Scenery from the FONT March 2008 Brazil Tour

Birds in Minas Gerais (with photos)

Birds in Mato Grosso do Sul  (with photos)

Birds in Southeast Brazil (with photos) 

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil


The Crowned Solitary Eagle,
seen during our March 2008 Brazil Tour,
the "top bird" of the tour.
One of a pair of eagles we saw together.
(photo by Marie Gardner)

The FONT Brazil March '08 Tour Group
having dinner one evening during the tour

To Top of Page


BRAZIL (Southeast Brazil, Minas Gerais, & Mato Grosso)
August 2007 

The following written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

We've called this our tour for "Jabiru & Jaguar".  And, again this year, as last year, it was. We saw both. 
In 2006, during our tour in the Brazilian region of Mato Grosso do Sul, we saw a Jaguar at night, first as it was still and then as it walked across a field. 
During this tour, in 2007, our sighting of the magnificent animal was during the day. From an open vehicle, a few feet above the ground, we saw it, closely, not more than a few yards away. The spots on its back were visible in the tall grass, and a few times the animal raised its large head to look at us. What a sight! What an experience!

The Jabirus that day (also large) were wonderful to see as well. We saw a number of them, usually standing or walking on the ground or at pools of water. But a particularly nice sighting was of an adult Jabiru and 2 smaller ones an a nest high up in a tree.   
One time, as we were observing a pair of Jabirus feeding in a pool, a herd of more than a dozen White-lipped Peccaries walked by between us and the birds. Among the peccaries, there were some very small ones, recently born.
The Jabiru was certainly not the only large bird during the tour. 
There were also Greater Rheas and Hyacinth Macaws. The latter were very exciting to see, one morning, as one pair, then another, flew across against the blue sky above us!
In all, 305 species of birds were found during this 10-day tour, the 41st FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil.

A Saffron Toucanet photographed as it feasted
during the FONT August '07 Brazil tour
(photo by Dan Coleman)

FONT tour participants birding along the side of a quiet road
in the state of Minas Gerais
during our August 2007 tour in Brazil.   


More about the FONT Brazil Tour in August 2007

Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - August '07

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil


To Top of Page              

BRAZIL  (Minas Gerais & Rio Grande do Sul)
October 2006

The following written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

This was the 40th FONT birding & nature tour in Brazil, during which we visited the state of Minas Gerais, where the Swallow-tailed Cotinga was among the birds and Giant Anteater & Maned Wolf were among the animals seen.
The second part of the tour was in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, one of our favorite birding locales, as it is one of the birdiest places that we visit. Some species we've seen there in the thousands, including ibises, whistling-ducks and other waterfowl, and gulls and more. 
Species in southern Rio Grande do Sul, include, on the whole, those common in nearby Uruguay & Argentina, including 2 types of swans, various ducks (with the Ringed Teal being common), 3 types of coots, and the Giant Wood-Rail
In that area during one day, we saw 7 species of Terns: Snowy-crowned, South American, Common, Antarctic, Large-billed, Yellow-billed, Royal, & Cayenne
in the region included: Spectacled, White-headed Marsh, Yellow-browed, Cattle, Blue-billed Black, and Crested Black. 
included: Chestnut-capped, Yellow-winged, White-browed, Scarlet-headed (a beauty!), and Saffron-cowled (a rarity!), in addition to 3 species of Cowbirds and 2 species of Marshbirds
The Saffron-cowled Blackbird was one of the 3 notable rarities during the tour. The others were the Black-and-White Monjita and the Canebrake Groundcreeper
In all, over 300 species of birds were seen, including some, as noted, in spectacular numbers.

The Limpkin,
one of the birds occurring in large numbers
in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil 


More about the FONT Brazil Tour in October 2006

Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour -  October '06

Birds in Rio Grande do Sul, in far-southern Brazil  (with photos)

Birds in Minas Gerais (with photos)

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Brazil

 To Top of Page 


BRAZIL  (Iguacu Falls, Mato Grosso, & Minas Gerais)
September 2006

The very rare Brazilian Merganser in Minas Gerais, 2006.
A pair was seen during the  FONT September '06 tour. 
(Photo courtesy of Renilda Dupin) 

The following written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

This tour, our 39th in Brazil, was dubbed the "J & J Tour", for the Jabiru & the Jaguar. And appropriately so, as we saw both. The Jabiru is easy; the Jaguar is more of a challenge. During open-vehicle excursions in the southern Pantanal, on two consecutive nights, the Jaguar was one of a number of animals that we saw. Others were: 7 Ocelots, a Pampas Cat, a Maned Wolf, 2 Brazilian Tapirs, 3 Giant Anteaters, both Crab-eating Foxes & Crab-eating Raccoons, a dozen or so Marsh Deer, the Tapiti (or Brazilian Rabbit), and many Capybaras
Also during those nocturnal jaunts, both Striped & Barn Owls were nicely seen, as were Nightjars of various species including the Scissor-tailed. Also heard those nights were Rufous Nightjar and the Gray (formerly Common) Potoo.
Other animals during the tour in the Pantanal, in the daytime, included Giant Otters, and Brocket Deer

Many birds were seen in addition to the Jabiru. Notable among them was the Hyacinth Macaw. But the most notable of the birds of the tour was during our time in the region of Minas Gerais - the extremely rare Brazilian Merganser. We enjoyed a pair of these birds in our scope as they rested on and by streamside rocks.

During this tour, in the Brazilian areas of Iguazu Falls, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Minas Gerais, with visits to parts of Paraguay and Bolivia, about 400 species of birds were found.

The birds voted by the participants, following the tour, as the "Top Birds" were: 

 1 - Brazilian Merganser  (p)
 2 - Streamer-tailed Tyrant
 3 - Red-legged Seriema
 4 - Black-breasted Plovercrest
 5 - Pale-crested Woodpecker  (p)
 6 - Red-billed Scythebill  (p)
 7 - Spotted Nothura
 8 - Striped Owl  (p)
 9 - Scissor-tailed Nightjar  (p)
10 - Toco Toucan
11 - Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
12 - Blond-crested Woodpecker


More about the FONT Brazil Tour in September 2006

Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - Sept '06

Photos of Birds & Animals from our Sept '06 Brazil Tour


One of the 7 Ocelots seen during the FONT Sept '06 Brazil Tour.

To Top of Page 

BRAZIL (the Atlantic & Amazonian Forests) 
August/September 2005

The following written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

During this, our 38th tour in Brazil, areas of the Atlantic Forest of SE Brazil and Amazonian Forest near Manaus were included. In the latter, we made 3 visits atop tall towers in the forest to view birds of the canopy. There were boat-trips in both the light water of the Amazon channels and in those with dark water of the Rio Negro. Avian highlights of this tour included fine looks at Guianian Cock-of-the Rocks, the Crimson Topaz hummingbird, and the Pompadour Cotinga. During the combination of this and our August 05 tour in Mato Grosso & in SE Brazil, over 500 species of birds were found, along with interesting mammals and other nature too.  

Above: Some of our August 05 Brazil Tour Group 
in the Pantanal in front of the vehicle from which the previous night 
we had a wonderful look at an Ocelot.
Below: A Capybara in the Pantanal during the day.    


Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tours - Aug/Sept '05

To Top of Page 


BRAZIL  (the far-south: Rio Grande do Sul, and Mato Grosso, and the southeast)
October 2004

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour. 

During our October 2004 FONT birding tour in the far-southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, some oceanic birds were seen on the South Atlantic Ocean. However, they were not seen offshore, but from shore. And from where we could walk, that's right, walk, from shore.

There's a long jetty, of rocks and concrete, that extends over 2 kilometers into the ocean, from a beach by an inlet. SOUTHERN SEA-LIONS and BOTTLE-NOSED DOLPHINS, feeding by the jetty, indicated that in the waters there were fish. Fishermen camped on the jetty indicated that as well. And so there would also be SEABIRDS.

The most common of which at the end of the jetty were WILSON'S STORM-PETRELS, with their dangling feet behind them as they fed on the smooth water surface. There were about 50 of them, where GREAT GREBES were diving for fish beneath the surface.
And of course, there were GULLS, mostly KELP. 

But, as we later drove along the beach, south from the jetty, there were yet more birds, among them TERNS (7 species SOUTH AMERICAN, COMMON, SNOWY-CROWNED, CAYENNE, ROYAL, YELLOW-BILLED, and ANTARCTIC).
And PARASITIC JAEGERS were sitting on the beach, both the dark and light morphs. They stayed, tamely, as we watched them from the windows of our vehicle.
We drove further. We almost could have driven indefinitely, but we stopped where just offshore, beyond the surf, there were fishing boats, and with them, soaring BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSSES and WHITE-CHINNED PETRELS.

Certainly, not a bad oceanic day, without ever having been on a boat!


Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - Oct '04

top of page

BRAZIL (Iguacu Falls, Mato Grosso, & the Southeast)
July/August 2004 
(with some notes regarding our subsequent tour in October '04)

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour. 


This July/August tour was the first of two for us in Brazil in 2004, during which we saw the Harpy Eagle. Actually, there was one particular young bird that we were to see two times in the same area of a nest in a southern Mato Grosso forest. The second tour was two months later, in October. 
It was quite interesting to see how the young bird, that was already large in August, had increased in size by October. 
In August, when it stood on a branch up in a huge tree, the immature Harpy appeared to dwarf a nearby Gray-lined Hawk standing on a branch of another tree. The young Harpy Eagle, stayed in just about the same area, in a large tree or two, during both of our visits, in August & October. During the August tour, we also saw the adult female Harpy, in the top of another huge tree in nearby forest.
During both tours, in August and in October, the young bird begged loudly for food. We never saw the adult come to the nest, but we knew it recently had, as during the second day of our stay in the area, the youngster was observed tearing apart its meal and eating it. When the begged, it gave a single call, repeatedly, that could be heard far away from the bird. At times, the bird gave consecutively as many as 25 to 30 calls. In a telescope (or even binoculars), during each call, the red coloration inside its mouth could be seen. Each time it called, the big young bird elastically moved its wings, up and down. Both of our experiences with the Harpy Eagle (in August & in October) were tremendous.

As noted, the Harpy Eagle, when still young, was already a very big bird. The female of the species is the largest of the world's raptors. Overall, the species is the most powerful of birds. A massive Harpy Eagle can weigh nearly 20 pounds (about twice the weight of the Bald Eagle of North America). Prey includes monkeys, sloths, and porcupines. For those creatures in particular, but also in a general sense, the Harpy Eagle is undoubtedly the world's most formidable bird. 

The Harpy Eagle is seldom seen soaring high above the treetops in the forest. It habitually enters is nest, high in the tallest trees, from below. The short, broad wings of the bird enables almost vertical movement through the trees. The nest is a platform of large sticks, initially about 4 feet across and 2 feet thick. More is added to it in later years, getting it up 5 feet in diameter and 4 feet thick.

A juvenile, when between 8 and 10 months of age, enter its first immature molt, and has a well-developed power of flight. However, at that age, (as the was bird we saw in October), it is still entirely dependent on adults for food. Such a young bird generally stays in its nesting territory, within a radius of 100 yards of the nest tree. That large tree is used by the youngster for its perching. 

About a half-hour after sunrise, a juvenile bird begins calling. If especially hungry, it flaps its wings, as it calls, perhaps "signaling" to its parent. (In the first paragraph here, this repetitive calling & signaling was referred to.) Food is not brought by the adult every day. Sometimes, it comes as infrequently as once in 5 days. Later, as the parent feeds the young bird even less, the young Harpy Eagle's food-begging call changes to a combination of a "scream" and a pathetic "whine". The long period of dependence of a juvenile on its parents suggest that adults nest not annually but in a cycle of a year and a half to two years. A new bird when grown must find its own territory. As noted above, a pair of Harpy Eagles can use a nest repeatedly.

We look forward to having a "Harpy Experience", as we did twice in '04, repeatedly as well.                         


Birds & Other Wildlife during our Brazil Tour - Jul/Aug '04

BRAZIL  (Mato Grosso)
August 2003
with a Plethora of Piscivorous Birds

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour. 

In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, the region known as the Pantanal is one of the most renowned places for birding in the world (and for good reason). It is "birdy".

The region normally has pronounced wet and dry seasons. Our birding tour there in August is during the dry time. Waterbirds are concentrated at that time in the reduced areas of water. There are spectacular masses of egrets and herons of various kinds, storks (including Wood Stork and Jabiru), Spoonbills, Cormorants, and more.

Many of these birds are piscivorous, that is "fish-eating". In the ponds, and the rivers, there must be very large numbers of fish, as fish-eating birds abound. Anhingas, cormorants, herons, and egrets, terns and kingfishers at some places in tremendous numbers. And there are other creatures in the waters, ranging from caimans to capybaras.

But it's birdlife that's truly a spectacle in the Pantanal. During each day of our tour there, over a hundred species were seen.

In that area of avian superlatives, there are a number of birds that are big! Some are the largest of their kind. 

Hyacinth Macaw

The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest of the macaws. 
The Toco Toucan is the largest of its tribe. 
Another bird seen during the tour, the Greater Rhea, is the largest of all American birds. 


The huge stork, the Jabiru, is also among the biggest. Jabirus with young were on their nests (also big). Also with young on their nests were Plumbeous Ibis, one of a few ibis species in the area. Making a clamor in those bulky stick nests of the ibises and Jabirus, were groups of Monk Parakeets (noisy little neighbors).
In a riverside forest, large Bare-faced Curassows were seen walking about. 
And yet another large bird, to add to our cast of avian characters of the Pantanal, was one that when we saw it, during the day, sat still in a tree, silently. It was one of the best finds of the tour, a Great Potoo. Of course, we had looked forward to seeing birds such as the Hyacinth Macaw and the Jabiru, but we expected to see them. The Great Potoo, as we saw it, was unexpected.

Outside the Pantanal, during our August 2003 Mato Grosso, Brasil Tour, we enjoyed good looks at Red-legged Seriemas, in the dry habitat known as "cerrado", where also we saw a nice grouping of White Woodpeckers, and some notable Tanagers White-banded (it looks rather like a Loggerhead Shrike), White-rumped (they duet), Black-faced, and Cinnamon.

But the highlight in that dry area was one particular tree, filled with purple flowers and hummingbirds. Among the dozens of hummingbirds, there were particularly attractive Horned Sungems and Amethyst Woodstars. The males of both have long tails. The female sungem does as well.

Further north, in an Amazonian forest of Mato Grosso, a highlight indeed was a fine look at a Paradise Tanager, a beautiful bird filled with colors. Our August 2003 Mato Grosso Tour in Brazil was filled with birds!

To Top of Page

BRAZIL  (Rio Grande do Sul)
July/August 2003

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour. 

Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in the large South American country of Brazil. It borders on Uruguay, and is as far south as parts of Argentina and Chile.
And it is a wonderful place for birding, with nearly 600 species recorded in the Brazilian state that´s about the same size as the American state of Colorado.

Nearly 300 of those species reach an edge of their range in Rio Grande do Sul, such as northern species at their southern limit, and southern species at their northern limit. Migration and seasonality also have much to do with the birdlife of Rio Grande do Sul.

Our tour in that state, in late July and early August 2003, was during the winter there. At about 30 degrees south latitude, it's not a place with a cold winter. But penguins can occur along the coast.

We rode along the beach, a portion of the state's long coastline. The pristine beach continued on for many miles. People were few, mostly fishermen. However, birds were many, along the surf, and on the sand, with shorebirds including oystercatchers, stilts, plovers (mostly Collared), egrets (Snowy), gulls and terns. Among 5 species of Terns, the most common for us was a nicety known as the Snowy-crowned. Among the Gulls, there was the attractive Gray-headed.
We didn't see any penguins during our time by the sea, but we did have the good fortune of seeing rather closely, just beyond the surf, a large bird gliding in an up-and-down flight, a Black-browed Albatross.

Later that day, away from the ocean, in some small trees by a pond, we saw a Bananaquit. Only mentioned, as how often is it that an albatross and a bananaquit are seen during the same day. Such is birding in Rio Grande do Sul.

Returning to the seashore, by the dunes next to the beach, at a small marsh, one of the nice sights of the tour was of Scarlet-headed Blackbirds perched in a bare tree. In the marsh itself, there was a Warbling Doradito, a skulker. Not far away, a nearly all-white bird, a White Monjita, was much more obvious. (Monjitas are in the flycatcher family.)

In another part of Rio Grande do Sul, quite different, at a higher elevation, in an area of open grasslands, we saw another Monjita, the Black-and-White. And following a pair of them, there was another member of the blackbird family, one of the rarest of birds (some say headed toward extinction), the Saffron-cowled Blackbird. We saw a pair of them. Quite interesting behavior, not understood, is that Saffron-cowled Blackbirds (the few there now are) follow the Black-and-white Monjita. The monjita perches on reeds and bushes. The blackbirds walk about, feeding on the ground beneath them. Both the monjita and the blackbird are considered threatened. The blackbird, as noted, severely so.

A feature of the Rio Grande do Sul landscape, that's distinctive, and rather unusual, are the groves and forests of Araucaria trees. Araucarias are conifers. They are flat-topped, with long horizontal, upturned branches. Some species of birds are associated with these odd-looking trees, including the Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, the Azure Jay, and 2 species of parrots, both Amazons, the Vinaceous-breasted and the Red-spectacled. All of these are considered threatened, or nearly so, as the araucaria forests have been reduced. The two parrots are particularly threatened, dependent now on isolated patches of the particular tree. We enjoyed seeing all of the 4 species just mentioned. The Araucaria Tit-Spinetail was voted the "Top Bird" at the tour's end. We had some particularly good looks at this crested bird, with a long tail. It was one of a number of "nice birds" during the tour.

To Top of Page

BRAZIL (Minas Gerais)
August 2002

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour. 

This was the third in our set of 3 Brazilian birding tours during the summer of '02. Each of the 3 was a week. During the combined 3-week set a total of 500 species of birds were found. 

During our week in the state of Brazil known as Minas Gerais, among the birds were some fine rarities and specialties. 

Among them, was the very rare Brazilian Merganser. At a place called Canastra, a pair was seen well. The birds flew in, close by us, to a small river. Once on the water, they swan for a while, as they began to feed on small fish. With the sun behind us, and the birds in close, we were treated to wonderful looks, both by telescope and in binoculars. When the pair flew in, our eyes beheld a thrilling sight. They came rather unexpectedly. The whole experience was truly superb, as the Brazilian Merganser is not only the rarest of ducks in the Americas, it is one of the rarest of world’s birds. Recent estimates have put the population at only about a hundred pairs. And some say that’s even too high a number. With large territories, and favoring remote areas, it is not an easy bird to see.

The species, however, has also been seen during 2 previous FONT tours: in March 1997, and in October 1998. During both times previously, it was also seen in the Canastra area of western Minas Gerais. Now, with our latest sighting, the bird has been found during a FONT Brazilian birding tour during the month of August.

The Brazilian Merganser’s range has included southeast Brazil, northeast Argentina, and adjacent Paraguay. It’s probably now extinct in Paraguay, and may be in Argentina (where the population has been critically small). Actually, in the mid-20th Century, the species was thought to be extinct altogether. It was re-found in 1948. Now, just over 50 years later, the bird is still "too close" to extinction.

Another rarity, and a local speciality, seen during our August 2002 tour in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, was the Cipo Canastero. It’s a bird that became known to science only as recently as 1985. When the species was discovered, it was a surprise as all other canasteros occur much further
to the west in South America, and mostly in Andean habitats.
We’ve had Cipo Canastero sightings have been during all of our tours to where the species was initially found. Those tours, over the years, have been in March, August, and October.

A third rarity, during our August 2002 Brazil tour in Minas Gerais was the Three-toed Jacamar (having 3 toes instead of 4). This Brazilian endemic has, during recent years, undergone a major decline in numbers, and a contraction of its range.

Other highlights of the Minas Gerais portion of our Brazil '02 summer tours included a beautiful Aplomado Falcon perched in the late-afternoon sunlight, a fine assortment of antbirds in the forest, by day, at Caraca, where a Maned Wolf was seen after dark, and a wonderful close-up encounter with Swallow-tailed Cotingas and numerous other birds, notably hummingbirds, near the attractive historic city of Ouro Preto. 

To Top of Page

BRAZIL (Mato Grosso)
July/August 2002

The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour. 


The state of Mato Grosso, in southwestern Brazil, is a place of superlatives. Some people think Texas is big. Yes it is, but Mato Grosso is bigger. It was, for quite a while, the largest state in the country of Brazil (itself huge), but the southern part of it was made another state, Mato Grosso do Sul. Even so, Mato Grosso (or "the Big Thicket") remains very big indeed, from Amazonian habitat in the north to the Pantanal in the south. There's a divide in the south-central part of the state (over which we crossed), north of which waters flow to the Amazon, south of which they flow to the Rio de la Plata. 

The Pantanal is said to be (and probably is) the largest freshwater wetland in the world. During part of the year that's the rainy season, water covers extensive areas. During July and August, however, during the dry season, water remains in smaller lakes and ponds, filled with fish, caimans, and many waterbirds. It's a spectacle.
Among the waterbirds is the largest New World stork, the Jabiru, together with numerous ibises, herons, and egrets.

The Pantanal is also the home of the largest of the world's parrots, the Hyacinth Macaw. It's been a threatened species, but it has benefited, in recent years, by being something "good to see" by ecotourists and others visiting the Pantanal. Hyacinth Macaws have become more valuable in life to the people living in the region, then they were in the past as objects to be caught and sold. It's too bad that some other macaws of the Neotropics could not have had such a better fate sooner, including the Glaucous (extinct), Spix's (now extinct in the wild), and the Lear's (very, very rare).         

Not only Hyacinth Macaws, but other nice birds are seen in the Pantanal, including the largest of the toucans, the Toco, and the largest of all South American birds, the Greater Rhea, (yes, Mato Grosso is a land of superlatives), along with the Bare-faced Curassow, the Great Rufous Woodcreeper, the Southern Screamer, the Nanday Conure, and both Sungrebe and Sunbittern (the latter quite numerous).

Smaller birds included, for us, the Helmeted Manakin, and the Mato Grosso Antbird

As the area is not far from Bolivia, there are some birds not commonly found elsewhere in Brazil. Among them, the White-fronted Woodpecker.

All day, each day, there were birds! And birds continued at dusk, into darkness, with such species as the Nacunda Nighthawk, the Scissor-tailed Nightjar, and the Gray Potoo.

A few miles to the north, in the region of Mato Grosso known as the "Chapada", the cast of avian characters is quite different. On the higher plateau, there, species occur that favor the dry habitat known as the "cerrado". And forests have a mixed recipe of some Amazonian and non-Amazonian species. 
In the "cerrado", we had a tremendous look at a Collared Crescent-chest (an attractive tapaculo). And we also had some good encounters with the Checkered Woodpecker, Rusty-backed Antwren, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Curl-crested Jay and Coal-crested Finch, and both the White-rumped and White-banded Tanagers (the latter incidentally looks alot like a North American Loggerhead Shrike). Large birds were still to be seen: there were pairs of Red-and-green Macaws flying about, calling raucously as they went. We enjoyed, at the end of an afternoon, by a cliff above a beautiful waterfall, a particularly-pleasing encounter, eye-to-eye with a pair of Blue-winged Macaws.
In the forest, our birds included Tataupa Tinamou, Pheasant Cuckoo, White-wedged Piculet, Green-backed Becard, Eastern Sirystes, White-backed Fire-eye, and Lettered Aracari.

Further north, the birds became more "Amazonian" in an area that we've liked to visit during our previous FONT birding tours in Mato Grosso: the Jardim da Amazonia (or the "Garden of the Amazon"). During the past 3 years (since it opened), 6 FONT tours have visited the place. A fine list of birds has cumulatively been seen. During this tour, among the birds there that we particularly enjoyed seeing were Black-girdled Barbets, and Paradise Tanagers, the latter in a flock with other tanagers and allies indigenous to the Amazon basin. Related to tanagers, and also colorful were both Yellow-bellied and Black-faced Dacnis.
During an afternoon boat-ride along the pristine Rio Claro, at the day's end, on a tree limb above the river's edge, there was a Great Potoo. A great sight! And those dark eyes of the potoo looked at us too. It was one of many fine moments during our 2002 tour in Mato Grosso, Brazil. 

To Top of Page    

BRAZIL (Southeast)
July 2002

The following account written by Armas Hill, the leader of the tour. 

In southeast Brazil, there are a number of birds certainly colorful, to say the least. There could not be more avian color together than there was on the bird-feeder trays, one morning at our hotel in the Itatiaia National Park, a wonderful place of forested hills. Dozens of birds were on the trays there, including: Blue-naped Chlorophonias, Chestnut-bellied Euphonias, Saffron Toucanets, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, and Green-headed Tanager. Names of these birds relate to only one color: on the nape of the chlorophonia, the front of the woodpecekr, and the head of the tanager. But each of these is actually a splash of bright colors. The tanager, for example, has 7 vivid colors, including hues of orange, yellow, blue, and black, in addition to the metallic green. A place would be rare indeed for a gathering of birds as colorful as those we saw that July morning at Itatiaia.
The name Itatiaia is an odd one. There are many such odd names of places in southeastern Brazil. And some of these have become the names of birds. There's an Itatiaia Thistletail, a species we saw near the top of Brazil's highest mountain (just over 7,500 feet). More well known are the names of the places Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. And, yes, we saw birds with those names, the Rio de Janeiro Antbird and the Sao Paulo Tyrannulet.

is another unusual name of a place, located along both a beautiful stretch of seacoast and the Tropic of Capricorn. No bird is named Ubatuba, but we did see a number of nice birds there, including two very small: the diminutive cotinga known as the Buff-throated Purpletuft, and a small hummingbird called the Festive Coquette.

During our tour, we saw a fine collection of hummingbirds, including the Saw-billed Hermit, Black Jacobin, and Brazilian Ruby. Particularly nice to see were the males and females of two Coquettes, the Frilled and the Festive.
Going from the small to the large, we had a memorable encounter with the biggest of the antbirds. A Giant Antshrike accompanied us, one morning, as we ascended a trail at Itatiaia, calling as it went. As we zigged and zagged on the trail, the antshrike flew more directly up the hillside. As it did so, we had some very good looks at the large bird that can be surprisingly elusive.
We also had some very good looks, during the tour, at regional spécialties, including the Black-and-gold Cotinga (as it was calling), a Sharpbill (as it was coughing up berries), the Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, and the Streamer-tailed Tyrant, during our 27th FONT birding tour in Brazil. The localized Vinaceous-breasted Parrots were flying and calling overhead.
The Giant Antshrike and the Rio de Janeiro Antbird, already mentioned, were not our only antbirds. Among others that we saw were a few with "rufous" in both their plumages and their names: the Rufous-backed Antvireo, Rufous-capped Antshrike, and Rufous-tailed Antthrush. These, in addition to the Rufous-breasted Leaftosser and Rufous-headed Tanager (not antbirds, of course!). How many different parts of a bird can be labeled as rufous? (And we did'nt mention the Rufous-winged Antwren, and Rufous Hornero and Rufous Gnateater, the latter two rufous overall.) 
In addition to the birds in southeast Brazil with rufous, there were others we saw that were buff-browed and buff-fronted (foliage-gleaners), ochre-breasted (also a foliage-gleaner), rusty-backed (an antwren), ferruginous (an antbird), and bran-colored (a flycatcher).
So, birds seen ranged from those bright and colorful (as on the feeding tray at Itatiaia) to those with rufous, buff, ochre, rusty, ferruginous, and bran. 

To Top of Page 

BRAZIL (Mato Grosso & the Southeast)
August/September 2001

This account written by Armas Hill, the leader of the tour. 

In August, we had some stupendous birding during our tour in Brazil - our 25th birding tour in that ornithologically-intriguing country.

In southeastern Brazil, the most special of the birds included these "goodies" both Swallow-tailed Cotinga and Black-and-gold Cotinga, Spotted Bamboowren, Vinaceous-breasted Parrot, Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Long-trained Nightjar, Buff-throated Purpletuft, and a bird that has been called the Shrike-like Cotinga. That name, apparently, was too easy to say - so the species is now called the Brazilian Laniisoma (and, no, that's not Portuguese!)

During our tour in Mato Grosso, including the bird-rich wetlands of the Pantanal and the dry habitat of the Cerrado, many birds were seen as always. And always great to see are the large Hyacinth Macaws and Jabirus. And the Sungrebe and Sunbitterns, the Red-billed Scythebill, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Helmeted Manakin, and Scissor-tailed Nightjar. The list can go on and on.

From a lookout where we had hoped to see a Harpy Eagle, we saw instead a fly-by Orange-breasted Falcon.

Then, we went to one of our favorite places, the Jardin da Amazonia or the "Garden of the Amazon". We had good looks at many "Amazonian species", some of them even with that adjective the Amazonian Umbrellabird, Amazonian Royal-Flycatcher, and Amazonian Pygmy-Owl (yes, we SAW the owl, sitting in a tree by day. On the ground, we saw Razor-billed Curassow. At an ant swarm, among the best of the antbirds was the Black-spotted Bare-eye. Blue Ground-Doves were common. Red-headed Manakins were enjoyed. In the treetops, sat both Spangled and Pompadour Cotingas. Among the tanagers, one called "Paradise" in a place that is.

But, then, somehow, it got even better. We went to an area of Amazonian forest, 2 hours to the north, where no one have ever birded in the past. It was a wild, very wild area. On the dirt roads, there were many tracks of wild cats, many of the Jaguar. On a road, a Tapir was seen. Trumpeters cross the road too. Among the birds, there were others that were tremendous the Pavonine Quetzal, both male and female Pompadour Cotingas, a White-browed Purpletuft (a small cotinga) feeding young, and a striking Black-necked Red-Cotinga!! Yes, it was a tour for cotingas! And much more.

To Top of Page 

BRAZIL (Amazonian & Atlantic Forests)
October 2001

The following account written by Armas Hill, the leader of the tour.

Our October 2001 Brazilian Birding Tour included both Amazonian Forest in the state of Mato Grosso and Atlantic Forest in southeastern Brazil.

In the latter, in the Paranapiacaba Mountains, southwest of Sao Paulo, it was spring. In the treetops, Bare-throated Bellbirds were proclaiming their territories, with their clamorous calls carrying through the countryside. The male bellbirds, all-white, with a bare-throats actually bluish. This was just one of quite a few cotingas we were to see during our tour.
Our first day (in those mountains with the long name) began with a Swallow-tailed Cotinga on its nest. We were to see another one of those graceful birds at its nest a day or so later. Another attractive cotinga, was seen and heard in nearby forest, the Hooded Berryeater. At another southeastern Brazil location, another cotinga was observed calling from a treetop: the rare, localized Black-and-gold Cotinga.

In the Amazonian region, there were more cotingas, including a perched male Amazonian Umbrellabird, both male and female Pompadour Cotingas, Bare-necked Fruitcrows, and a nifty little fellow, the White-browed Purpletuft, seen in a scope perched atop a tree. Our tour was quite a "Cotinga Caper", but we also saw much more:

One of the true highlights was a female antpitta on its nest. Known for years as the Variegated Antpitta, the bird, at our eye-level was quite a sight for us as we stood ever so quietly. The nest was in a low "V" of a tree in the forest. We could very easily have continued on the path by it, as the bird sat absolutely still. The population of this denizen of the forest, more often heard than seen, in southeastern Brazil (where we saw it) may well be a species separate from the Amazonian population. Its name would be the Imperial Antpitta. As antpittas go, this is a large one, but its most interesting aspect may well have been its large dark eyes - apparently adapted to the darkness of the forest floor. As we walked away, the bird flew from its nest. We looked, and the eggs were a beautiful blue. We left quickly so the bird would return to them. 

Other birds of that forest that we saw well were the Mouse-colored Tapaculo, and the Long-trained Nightjar, the latter, with its very long tail, in flight against a beautiful twilight sky. It was one of a number of nightjars and related birds that we saw during the tour.

Along a river, in the Amazonian forest, during twilight we not only heard the mournful call of the Gray Potoo, we also saw the bird flying over the river, with its large mouth open catching insects.
Higher in the sky, Common Nighthawks, having migrated from North America, were also catching insects in their domain.   

Among the owls during our tour were Tropical Screech, seen very well, and Southern Tawny-bellied Screech, both seen and heard. These in addition to Crested, Mottled, and Amazonian Pygmy.

An Araucaria Forest in Southeast Brazil.

Home to the rare Vinaceous-breasted Parrot, 
and the specialized Araucaria Tit-Spinetail.
(Photo by Herb Cutler during Oct 2001 FONT tour.)   

We saw several species of birds with affinities to particular trees. An odd-looking tree, native to southeastern Brazil is the Araucaria. In it, we saw the endangered Vinacous-breasted Parrot, as well as the Araucaria Tit-Spinetail
In palm trees, along a river, in the Amazonian basin, we saw the Point-tailed Palmcreeper - restricted to palms as much as the tit-spinetail is to araucarias.
The palmcreeper we saw in palms. Woodcreepers on the trunks of trees. And the streamcreeper we saw well, yes, along a stream - acting much as it does like a waterthrush in the Northern Hemisphere.



The Rio Claro, in central Mato Grosso.

It was along this river that we saw a perched Amazonian Umbrellabird,
the Point-tailed Palmcreeper in the palms, 
and where at dusk potoos with open mouths were seen catching insects. 

Other memorable moments during the tour included:
In forests: a nice look at a Red-headed Manakin, encounters with  Pheasant Cuckoo and Pavonine Quetzal, and a flock of colorful Paradise Tanagers.  

Overhead, during the tour, we saw soaring King Vulture, and a procession of Swallow-tailed Kites. Perched we saw a wonderful Mantled Hawk, and a group of Greater Yellow-headed Vultures.   

We enjoyed sightings of common Dusky-legged Guans, and the rare Black-fronted Piping-Guan.

We met up with migratory flocks - of Fork-tailed Flycatchers enroute to their breeding grounds further south, and a large mass, one afternoon, of thousands of Cliff Swallows that bred in North America.    

On a dirt road, we saw a Greater Rhea with about a dozen young. The large male and the little ones were crossing in front of us.
On another dirt road, not crossing, but rather running in spurts ahead of us for about a mile, was a Red-legged Seriema. That bird normally prefers an open habitat. We saw it, though, along a forest road, and maybe as it viewed the road ahead as "open", it continued to run ahead until there was a junction where it went to the left and we went to the right.        

We enjoyed our birding throughout the tour. One of the last places we visited was a plantation at the forest edge, filled with fruit - food for motmots, nunbirds, aracaris and toucans, thrushes and tanagers.

In all, during our 10-day October 2001 tour, we tallied nearly 400 species of birds. 

All of the places we visited were great, but one in particular deserves a special mentioning - a place now visited during 5 FONT Brazilian Tours. The place known as the "Jardin da Amazonia", or the "Garden of the Amazon", in the north-central region of Mato Grosso State.   

To Top of Page