17 - 24 August 2000
by Carol Foil
My birding trip was made while accompanying my husband Lane in attending the International Congress of Entomology, so was not planned specifically for birding. To prepare for the trip I consulted Birding Brazil by Bruce Forrester, which has a list of birds for the Iguaçu area, de la Pena and Rumboll, Birds of southern South America and Antarctica and the Ridgely and Tudor. Each of these three books had different versions of what to expect in the area for late winter. I ended up with a list of 305 bird possibilities of which I personally saw 99 in 5 days of birding, at least 4 of which were not on the list I prepared!
I am submitting this report as I can update some information that has been available from other trip reports that cover the area and because August is not a common time for trip reports to be filed. Also I know there are other birders like me who are moderately competent, somewhat inexperienced in the neotropics and may be traveling in the area without a guide. I do have a guide to recommend for the area, though I was not able to meet up with him in time to employ his services. He is Miguel Castelinho of Trogon Tours firstname.lastname@example.org. Some days I was joined in birding by Neva Pruess, from Nebraska, husband Lane Foil, and David Pearson, who like me was a former ornithology student of George Lowery's at LSU.
Throughout this account, birds all in caps were exclusive to that day and time for the trip.
AM in the Sao Paulo airport (the international one) awaiting connections to Foz do Iguaçu. It was cool, foggy and then overcast. I was outside from 6 am to 9:45 birding the gardens around the airport parking lots. The airport is modern and thoroughly first-world and everyone was friendly and helpful, including the airport security guard who told me where to find birds, in Spanish, as I don't know any Portuguese. Birdlist included Black Vultures, Unidentified heron flyover - probably white-necked, Southern Lapwing, SWALLOW-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupetomina macroura), Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Great Kiskadee, Blue And White Swallows, Southern House Wren, Rufous-bellied Thrush, BANANAQUIT, Blue-napped Chlorophonia, Sayaca Tanager. The hummer was using tropical hibiscus planted right along the departure driveway in front of the airport.
PM In Foz do Iguaçu by 2:30 pm. Rented a car for a week for about $145 US from Localiza, the national car rental agency of Brazil. Very friendly, spoke little or no English. Stayed at the Bourbon Hotel -- 5 star and great service, though not where we had intended to be. The hotel has a Nature Trail that doubles as a jogging trail through a bit of forest they are restoring and preserving and through their vegetable garden. They are surrounded by agricultural land on the highway that goes between the town and the Park. There are several nice hotels in this area and if you can't stay at the Tropical that is within the Park, these are all convenient and nice. Unfortunately, though, you can't drive into the park until after 8 am, so the advantage would be with staying in the Tropical, which is also 5 star. These hotels cost in the neighborhood of $150 US per night. I drove out to the falls for the sunset ... as spectacular as advertised ... beyond words, really. The next day, I hooked up with Neva, also attending the convention, with whom I had been in contact via Birdchat.
At the end of the report, there is a list of birds that includes what Neva and I saw and what Dave saw when he was with us or on our hotel grounds. The sites we birded were around these hotels outside of the park as well as the golf resort and the convention center near the airport, as well as the Iguazu National Parks of both Brazil and Argentina. Generally, birding was very good in the morning and very slow after about 10 am.
August 18 Saturday
The National Park at Iguaçu Falls is operated as I understand most Brazilian Parks to be, and does not allow free public access to the forest protected within it. The only free access is along the busy highway that leads to the falls, which has a wide shoulder, and along the trails that are designed for viewing the falls. There are only two trails that lead into the forest and access is granted to an ecotourism concession that will lead guided tours on the trails. At the time of our visit, the concession was held by Macuco Safari, a new and earnest ecotourism company. On Saturday Lane & I took their "Jungle Safari and Boat Trip to the Falls" Tour that cost $30 US and lasted a couple of hours. The first part of the tour is along the trail to Macuco Falls (not to be confused with the Macuco Trail on the Argentine side.) This is conducted in an open trailer pulled by a Jeep in groups of about 15 tourists. The guides are not particularly knowledgeable about bird-life, but they are trying and they are multi-lingual. They suggest birders take the first tour that goes off in the am at 8. It is also possible to talk them into allowing you to take this trail by foot, but they are nervous about that as there are Puma and Jaguars in the area. We took the trip in the early afternoon and did not do this trail by foot. Here are the birds we saw in forest and river: Neotropic Cormorants, Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures, White-winged Swallows, Surucua Trogons (a pair at a nest cavity). Neva and her husband took the trail in the morning later in the week and did some walking. She saw Picazaro Pigeon, and just missed seeing a Puma, which occasioned rather frantic warnings from the guides not to stray into the "dangerous" forest from the trail. Not very birdy, but a really spectacular way to view the falls!
August 19 Sunday
Went to the Bird Park, which is a privately owned aviary-zoo located between the airport and the Falls on the main highway. It is worth the visit, as there is a good collection of local birds and a way to get a head-start on learning some of the Guans, Rails and Tinamous and some hummingbirds. It was also the only place that I spotted a BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER. That and a Squirrel cuckoo were the only free-flying birds that I saw there that were not also on display, so securely countable. It is hard to get much done birding-wise except in the early morning, anyway. The rest of the day was spent birding around Foz and walking along the falls trails and ferrying Lane to the meetings. One of the nicest places to bird in the area is in and around the Iguaçu Golf Resort. There is a wetland down the road beyond the resort and there are ponds as well as grasslands within the resort grounds.
August 20 Monday
We had arranged with the same Macuco Safaris to spend the morning birding the one great trail into the forest on the Brazil side - Poço Preto. The cost varies around $120 US with the number of persons, so it cost us each $34, as we were four. Neva and I were joined for this morning of birding by Dave Pearson, who has a good deal of experience in South America, and my non-birding spouse Lane.
We were picked up at the hotel at 6:30 and were on the trail by 7:00 am. Poço Preto is a jeep trail that stretches 12 kilometers through the forest and ends up meeting the Iguaçu River above the falls. It begins behind a dormitory house and the trail head is chained off, so it is not possible to walk it without these guides. It is said to be the best place to find some rarities and forest birds including Ochre-collared Piculet, Russet-winged Spadebill, Sao Paulo Tyrannulet, and Helmeted Woodpecker. We had some success.
Once we convinced the contingent of drivers and guides (one assigned to us for his English-speaking skills, and one who was along because it was her first group of birders and she was the boss, and one who was the company biologist!) to follow behind us with the jeep and to keep a little bit quiet, we had a very exciting birding trip. It began auspiciously as we spotted a pair of big red-crested woodpeckers that we at first thought were the more common Robust woodpecker. Fortunately, the pair obliged us by flying lower and allowing good looks; they turned out to be a pair of much rarer HELMETED WOODPECKERS (Drycopus galeatus).
We next had a brief look at a DUSKY-LEGGED GUAN. Had Southern Lapwing flyovers, heard Picazuro Pigeons, saw White-eyed Parakeet flyovers, Squirrel cuckoos, Smooth-billed Ani in a marshy area, Great Dusky Swift flyovers, unidentified hummingbird, Black-throated Trogons, Surucua Trogons, Chestnut-eared Araçari, Red-breasted Toucan, Ochre-collared Piculets (three for the morning), LINEATED WOODPECKERS (three; this race lacks the white line on the scapulars), Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Ochre-breasted Foliage Gleaners, Buff-fronted Foliage Gleaners, a troop of brown Capuchins, RUFOUS-WINGED ANT-WREN (Dave only), Plain Ant-vireo, heard probable Spotted Bamboo-wrens, unidentified tyrannulets - either Planalto or Greenish, probable Southern Bearded Tyrannulet, unidentified Elaenia, Sao Paulo Tyrannulets (several), Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets, RUSSET-WINGED SPADEBILL (heard and id'd by Dave), Sirystes (finally SAW one of them; heard lots), Three-striped Flycatchers, RED-RUFFED FRUIT-CROW (Dave only), Plush-crested Jays, Pale-breasted Thrushes, one White-necked Thrush, Golden-crowned Warblers, Tropical Parulas, Green-headed Tanagers, Blue-napped Chlorophonia, CHESTNUT-BELLIED EUPHONIA, GREEN-CHINNED EUPHONIA, White-lined Tanagers, Black-goggled Tanagers, Red-crowned Ant-tanagers, Guira Tanager, Red-rumped Caciques. Great morning! I would have liked to do three mornings on this trail. We carried no tape recorder and we found that few birds pished well (warblers and some tanagers). We heard many birds that remained unseen and unidentified.
August 21 Tuesday
We drove across to the Argentina side before 8:00 and the border crossing was painless and fast. The signs to the park are clear and easy to follow. The Argentine park opens at 8:00 am and costs $5.00 each for entry. There are tall trees along the highway that enters the park and good shoulders for pull-offs. Shortly after entering the park proper, it is easy to see the trailhead for the Macuco Trail, which is currently the only forest trail that park visitors are openly invited to hike and one of only two that we were able to locate. The trail goes for 3 km along a ridge along the lower Iguaçu River and is mostly meant to take tourists to an overview of a small waterfall. It meets up with the Yacaratiia jeep trail. It is surrounded by dense secondary forest with good patches of young cane and a few open tree falls with grassy or marshy habitat.
It was a very birdy place for us from 8 am to 12, which is the time we spent hiking the 6 km in and back out. The birds we spotted that morning included: TATAUPU TINAMOU, SOLITARY TINAMOU ( Lane only), RUSTY-MARGINED GUANS (a pair), Picazuro Pigeon, GREY-FRONTED DOVES (very stealthy and silent), White-eyed parakeets & Scaly-headed Parrots overhead, Great Dusky Swifts, Black and Turkey Vultures, Black-throated Trogon, Surucua Trogon, Ochre-collared Piculet, PLAIN-WINGED WOODCREEPER, LESSER WOODCREEPER, Ochre-breasted and Buff-fronted Foliage Gleaners, VARIABLE ANTSHRIKES, EARED PYGMY-TYRANT, Sao Paulo Tyrannulets, Sirystes (heard), Kiskadees, a wonderful lek of WHITE-BEARDED MANAKINS (only 1 female spotted), Pale-breasted and Rufous-bellied Thrushes, Golden-crowned Warblers ubiquitous, Black-goggled Tanagers common, Red-crowned Ant-tanagers, RUBY-CROWNED TANAGERS (3), GREEN-WINGED SALTATOR, SAFFRON-BILLED SPARRROWS (which pished up at the head of trail). A brief return visit to this spot later in the week yielded my only siting of a BLOND-CRESTED WOODPECKER and also Blue Manakins.
August 22 Wednesday
I joined Lane in a river fishing charter on the Parana River (same Macuco Safari outfit). We boated along the three frontiers (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) down to the big dam. The birding wasn't great, nor was the fishing (wrong time of year). The birds seen along the river (which is lined with habitations, has high banks and has some central islands that are nature preserves): Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Neotropical Cormorant, RINGED KINGFISHER, Southern Caracara, Smooth-billed Ani, LARGE-BILLED TERN, Blue & White Swallows, White-winged Swallows, Kiskadees, Social Flycatchers.
August 23 Thursday
Neva and her husband Ted Pruess joined me for a trip back to the Argentina National Park. We asked at park headquarters (no English) about the hide for marsh-viewing that is written up in previous reports, and learned that it has been dismantled for construction of the new park headquarters. We later found that about 1/3 of the wetlands themselves have also been given over to this park development. This did not affect our birding, however, as it is dry season in August and the marshlands were bone dry. We did the park walks along the falls for an hour or so starting around 8:30 am and found there to be few other tourists and the birding to be fairly good. The inferior trail is the best place to view the roosts of Great Dusky Swifts, and nestled amongst them we spotted a pair of BISCUTATE SWIFTS. We also had SPOT-BILLED TOUCANET and a pair of SWALLOW TANAGERS. Scacly-headed parrots were leaving roosts along the trail as we hiked. Near park headquarters there were plenty of Plush-crested Jays, a family of CHALK-BROWED MOCKINGBIRDS, and a FIELD FLICKER.
We drove to Puerto Canoas, the part of the park that allows tourists views of the river above the falls and paid $15 each to take a paddle raft float alongside the falls in the quiet backwaters of the upper river. This was late in the day for bird-viewing, but we did see alligator and also Brown Capuchins and some Toco Toucan fly-overs. We walked from the Puerto Canoas parking area toward the campgrounds along the upper river. Here we had a fly-over of YELLOW-CHEVRONED PARAKEETS. Otherwise it was too late in the morning to be productive, but an early morning visit to this site should be profitable. The only other bird of note for me on the upper Iguaçu River was seen from the Brazil side - SNAIL KITE. I also had a brief and distant view of a small accipiter harassing the swifts coming to roost at dusk.
In the hot afternoon sun, we went searching for the other end of the Yacaratiia Trail, which is now located along the new road to the new Park headquarters. It is given over to a jeep safari business, although open for walking. The big jeeps have the road so deeply rutted that one could not take a rental car along it, although it is well wide enough. We did not walk more than a km into the trail before having to leave, but it could be a very promising walk early morning. If you were staying at the International Hotel (now a Sheraton) within the National Park, it would be easy to reach the trailhead in the early morning. The only new bird we had along the trail was a gorgeous male LONG-TAILED TYRANT.
August 24 Friday
Leaving Day. Last bird of the area was fitting. An Elaenia-like flycatcher that I could not identify, despite it giving a call, a harsh "wraaah!" It was the size of a small Elaenia or a Pewee. It had an upright posture, and sat out in the open on a snag for some time with no wing-flicking or tail wagging. Unfortunately, I could not maneuver to get a look from behind, so never saw the wings, except for a hint of an upper wing bar, as it flew off back over a tree-line. It was a very grey and plain-faced bird with a uniform light flat grey color from crest (very cresty) to chest. On the belly there was a hint of darker streaking. It had a hint of a partial paler eye-ring. It was small billed and the bill was not noticeably two-toned -- greyish horn, rather than dark black. I wonder if this was a Suiriri flycatcher?
Here is the bird list with combined efforts of Neva Pruess, Lane Foil, Dave Pearson and myself.
FDI = Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil and environs
NPB = National Park Brazil side
NPA = National Park Argentina
PR = Parana River
|COMMON NAME||SCIENTIFIC NAME||WHERE OBSERVED|
|Solitary Tinamou||Tinamus solitarius||NPA|
|Tataupa Tinamou||Crypturellus tataupa||NPA|
|Neotropic Cormorant||Phalacrocorax brasilianus||NPB, NPA, PR|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba||NPA, PR|
|Snowy Egret||Egretta thula||NPA, PR|
|Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||all locations|
|Brazilian Duck||Amazonetta brasiliensis||FDI|
|Black Vulture||Coragyps atratus||abundant all locations|
|Turkey Vulture||Cathartes aura||all locations|
|Snail Kite||Rostrhamus sociabilis||NPB|
|Roadside Hawk||Buteo magnirostris||NPB, NPA|
|Southern Caracara||Caracara plancus||NPA, PR, FDI|
|Rusty-margined Guan||Penelope superciliaris||NPA|
|Dusky-legged Guan||Penelope obscura||NPB|
|Southern Lapwing||Vanellus chilensis||all locations|
|Large-billed Tern||Phaetusa simplex||PR|
|Picazuro Pigeon||Columba picazuro||all locations|
|Eared Dove||Zenaida auriculata||common all locations|
|Plain-breasted Ground-dove||Columbina minuta||FDI|
|Ruddy Ground-dove||Columbina talpacoti||all locations|
|Grey-fronted Dove||Leptoptila rufaxilla||NPA|
|Blue-winged Parrotlet||Forpus xanthopterygius||FDI|
|White-eared Parakeet||Aratinga leucophthalmus||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Yellow-chevroned Parakeet||Brotogeris chiriri||NPA|
|Scaly-headed Parrot||Pionus maximiliani||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Squirrel Cuckoo||Piaya cayana||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Smooth-billed Ani||Crotophaga ani||all locations|
|Guira Cuckoo||Guira guira||FDI|
|Great Dusky Swift||Cypseloides senex||all locations|
|Biscutate Swift||Streptoprocne biscutata||NPA|
|Black Jacobin||Melanotrochilus fuscus||FDI (feeder)|
|Rufous-throated Sapphire||Hylocharis sapphirina||FDI|
|Versicolored Emerald||Amazilia versicolor||FDI|
|Black-throated Trogon||Trogon rufus||NPB, NPA|
|Surucua Trogon||Trogon surrucura||NPB, NPA|
|Ringed Kingfisher||Ceryle torquata||PR|
|Amazon Kingfisher||Chloroceryle amazona||FDI, NPA|
|Chestnut-eared Araçari||Pteroglossus castanotis||NPB, NPA|
|Spot-billed Toucanet||Selenidera maculirostris||NPA|
|Red-breasted Toucan||Ramphastos dicolorus||NPB, NPA|
|Toco Toucan||Ramphastos toco||NPB, NPA|
|Ochre-collared Piculet||Picumnus temminckii||NPB, NPA|
|Yellow-fronted Woodpecker||Melanerpes flavifrons||FDI|
|Field "Campo' Flicker||Colaptes campestris||NPA|
|Blond-crested Woodpecker||Celeus flavescens||NPA|
|Helmeted Woodpecker||Drycopus galeatus||NPB|
|Lineated Woodpecker||Drycopus lineatus||NPB|
|Plain-winged Woodcreeper||Dendrocincla turdina||NPA|
|Olivaceous Woodcreeper||Sittasomus griseicapillus||FDI, NPA|
|Lesser Woodcreeper||Lepidocolaptes fuscus||NPA|
|Rufous Hornero||Furnarius rufus||FDI|
|Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner||Philydor lichtensteini||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner||Philydor rufus||NPB, NPA|
|Barred Antshrike||Thamnophilus doliatus||FDI|
|Variable Antshrike||Thamnophilus caerulescens||NPA a real Skulker!|
|Plain Antvireo||Dysithamnus mentalis||FDI|
|Rurfous-winged Antwren||Herpsilochmus rufomarginatus||FDI, NPB|
|Yellow-bellied Elaenia||Elaenia flavogaster||NPB, FDI|
|Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet||Phylloscartes ventralis||NPB, NPA|
|Sao Paulo Tyrannulet||Phylloscartes paulistis||NPB, NPA|
|Eared Pygmy-Tyrant||Myiornis auricularis||NPB, NPA|
|Russet-winged Spadebill||Platyrhinchus leucoryphus||NPB|
|Long-tailed Tyrant||Colonia colonis||NPA|
|Cattle Tyrant||Machetornis rixosus||FDI|
|Sirystes||Sirystes sibilator||NPB, NPA|
|Great Kiskadee||Pitangus sulphuratus||all locations|
|Boat-billed Flycatcher||Megarhynchus pitangua||FDI|
|Social Flycatcher||Myiozetetes similis||FDI, PR|
|Three-striped Flycatcher||Conopias trivirgata||NPB|
|White-bearded Manakin||Manacus manacus||NPA|
|Swallow-tailed (Blue) Manakin||Chiroxiphia caudata||NPA|
|Red-ruffed Fruitcrow||Pyroderus scutatus||NPA|
|Plush-crested Jay||Cyanocorax chrysops||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|White-winged Swallow||Tachycineta albiventer||NPB, PR|
|Gray-breasted Martin||Progne chalybea||FDI|
|Blue-and-white Swallow||Notiochelidon cyanoleuca||FDI, NPB, PR|
|Southern House Wren||Troglodytes aedon||NPB, NPA, FDI very common|
|Rufous-bellied Thrush||Turdus rufiventris||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Pale-breasted Thrush||Turdus leucomelas||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Creamy-bellied Thrush||Turdus amaurochalinus||FDI|
|White-necked Thrush||Turdus albicollis||NPB, NPA|
|Chalk-browed Mockingbird||Mimus saturninus||NPA|
|Tropical Parula||Parula pitiayumi||NPB, NPA|
|Masked Yelllowthroat||Geothlypis aequinoctialis||FDI|
|Golden-crowned Warbler||Basileuterus culicivorus||NPB, NPA, FDI very common|
|Chestnut-vented Conebill||Conirostrum speciosum||FDI|
|Green-headed Tanager||Tangera aroiris||NPA|
|Blue Dacnis||Dacnis cayana||FDI, NPA|
|Blue-naped Chlorophonia||Chlorophonia cyanea||NPB, NPA|
|Violaceous Euphonia||Euphonia violacea||NPB, NPA|
|Chestnut-bellied Euphonia||Euphonia pectoralis||NPB|
|Green-chinned Euphonia||Euphonia chalybea||NPB|
|Sayaca Tanager||Thraupis sayaca||FDI|
|Red-crowned Ant-tanager||Habia rubica||NPB, NPA|
|White-lined Tanager||Tachyphonus rufus||NPB, FDI|
|Ruby-crowned Tanager||Tachyphonus coronatus||NPA|
|Black-goggled Tanager||Trichothraupis melanops||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Guira Tanager||Hemithraupis guira||NPB, FDI|
|Green-winged Saltator||Saltator similis||NPA, FDI|
|Saffron-billed Sparrow||Arremon flavirostris||NPA|
|Shiny Cowbird||Molothrus bonariensis||FDI|
|Red-rumped Cacique||Cacicus haemorrhous||NPB, NPA, FDI|
|Solitary Cacique||Cacicus solitarius||NPB, FDI|
|Epaulet Oriole||Icterus cayennensis||FDI|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus||FDI|
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