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4 - 12 March 1996  &  31 May - 12 June 1996

by David Abbott

Both trips for business but found bits of time here and there to bird locally.  It is advisable for those visiting Brazil, especially on their own (as I was), to do as much research as possible as for those that are unfamiliar with cultures outside the US may experience "culture shock".

The difference between SUMMER (March) and WINTER (June) is dramatic.  Hot, hot, hot and HUMID during March, the winters are cooler on average but experience dramatic ups-and-downs in temps from day to day.  In June, it may rain for two days, be 90 degrees on the third, and 70 degrees (F) on the fourth.  In March, HOT and HUMID constantly.

I had drivers both times and recommend this as the way to get around.  Rental cars are expensive and often run on alcohol (poor starters).  Inflation is more stable than in the past (I've traveled to Sao Paulo and/or Rio six times now) and currency more predictable.  Brazil used to change script about every six months but now its more stable.  Currently, rate is about .90US/1R (nearly 1 for 1).  But getting cash can be difficult and using a credit card may carry a 6% charge.  Passport and Visa are a must.

Rio has a lot of beautiful habitat and lush, strenuous mountainous regions.  I visited Reserva Biologica de Barra (a wetland reserve), marshlands along the southern regions of the city, Tijuca National Park and the Botanical Gardens.  The birds can be challenging, but Tijuca NP and the Botanical Gardens are good places to start getting familiar with Brazilian birds.


Key to symbols used in the List:

AB - simply ABUNDANT
* - seen once
"" - believed seen but not listed in local literature
I - Introduced

I suspect that many birds have been overlooked in the region and the status of many may be under appreciated.


- Brown Booby--AB in March, much less common but still frequent in June.

-  Neotropical Cormorant

- Magnificent Frigatebird  --  AB.  During March 100's in constant view and massive flights were seen in the evening.  During June, frequent but fractional compared to March.

- LESSER FRIGATEBIRD  --  "".  Apparently two birds well seen on 3/11 among several hundred MF's floating overhead.  Both birds were smaller and showed distinct white spurs. Short billed. I noticed much variability in frigatebirds, many MF's lacking any axillary pattern.  The wavy bars of MF's are often apparent, however.

- GREAT FRIGATEBIRD  --  "".  Probably five between 3/9-3/11.  One clear female well seen showing its gray chin.  Others had belly patterns and strong carpal bars (with golden cast) on dorsal wings.

- Cocoi Heron

- Great Egret

- Snowy Egret

- Striated Heron

- Cattle Egret

- Capped Heron   --*.

- Black-crowned Night-Heron

- Boat-billed Heron

- Stripe-backed Bittern

- Pinnated Bittern

- Southern Pochard

- Black Vulture   --   AB.  More common than pigeons.  Flocks often congregate on the beach and swirling clouds may be in the air at a given time.

- Turkey Vulture   --   scarce.

- Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture

- Gray-headed Kite   --*  One viewed hanging in the breeze as it soared over a hillside June 10 in south Barra (pronouced Ba-Ha).

- Sharp-shinned Hawk

- White-tailed Hawk

- Roadside Hawk

- White-necked Hawk

- Great Black-hawk

- Black Hawk-eagle

- Osprey

- Barred Forest-falcon

- Yellow-headed Caracara

- Crested Caracara

- American Kestrel

- Rusty-margined Guan

- Common Gallinule   --   only seen once, 6/12 in the marshland of Barra.

- Southern Lapwing   --   common.

- American Oystercatcher   --   flock of seven flying offshore 6/9.

- Kelp Gull   --  Very common in March and fairly common in June.  For those interested in US Kelp Gulls it may be useful to note molt.  In March, Kelp Gulls should be molting their flight feathers showing ragged outer wings that lack virtually any white.

- South American Tern

- Common Tern

- Trudeau's (Snowy-crowned) Tern

- Yellow-billed Tern

- Scaled Pigeon

- Picauro Pigeon

- Pale-vented Pigeon

- Plain-breasted Ground-Dove

- Ruddy Ground-Dove   --   common, common, common---but secretive.

- Blue Ground-Dove

- Pearly-breasted Cuckoo

- Squirrel Cuckoo

- Greater Ani

- Smooth-billed Ani

- Guira Cuckoo

- Striped Cuckoo

- White-collared Swift

- Biscutate Swift

- Gray-rumped Swift

- Ashy-tailed Swift

- Dusky-throated Hermit

- Planalto Hermit

- Swallow-tailed Hummingbird  --  a beauty with a long forked tail.....

- Ringed Kingfisher

- Amazon Kingfisher

- Rufous-capped Motmot

- Campo Flicker

- Yellow-fronted Flicker

- Thrush-like Woodcreeper

- Olivaceous Woodcreeper

- White-throated Woodcreeper

- Planalto Woodcreeper

- Narrow-billed Woodcreeper

- Scaled Woodcreeper

- Lesser Woodcreeper

- Rufous Hornero

- Chicli Spinetail

- Yellow-chinned Spinetail

- Red-eyed Thornbird

- White-collared Foliage-gleaner

- White-browed Foliage-gleaner--several of this and the former seen during March.

- Black-capped Foliage-gleaner

- White-eyed Foliage-gleaner

- Streaked Xenops

- Plain Xenops

- Rufous-breasted Leaf-tosser (I love these names....)

- Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper

- Large-tailed Antshrike

- Lined Antshrike  -- most of these and the last 10 - 15 species were seen during March.

- Eastern Slaty Antshrike

- Spot-breasted Antvireo

- Rufous-backed Antvireo

- Star-throated Antwren

- White-flanked Antwren

- Unicolored Wren

- Rufous-winged Antwren

- Dusky-tailed Antbird

- Scaled Antbird

- Streak-capped Antwren

- Black-cheeked Gnateater

- Rufous Gnateater

- Slaty Bristlefront

- Mouse-colored Tapaculo

- Chestnut-crowned Becard

- White-winged Becard

- Crested Becard

- Pin-tailed Manakin

- White-brearded Manakin

- Greenish Manakin

- Gray Monjita

- White-rumped Monjita

- Streamer-tailed Tyrant

- Velvet Black Tyrant

- Masked Water-tyrant

- White-headed Marsh-tyrant -- one bird seen 6/9/96

- Cattle Tyrant -- common in March; none in June

- Tropical Kingbird -- common

- Fork-tailed Flycatcher

- Social Flycatcher

- Great Kiskadee  --  Common to abundant at all times, especially throughout the city and inhabited areas.

- Grayish Mourner - once in March

- Short-crested Flycatcher -- a myarchus and like a dingy Ash-throated.

- Swainson's Flycatcher -- another myarchus.

- Euler's Flycatcher

- Fuscous Flycatcher -- like an orangish-yellow Yellow-bellied.

- Sulpher-rumped Flycatcher

- Bran-colored Flycatcher

- Yellow-olive Flycatcher

- Yellow-breasted Flycatcher

- Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher

- Common Tody-flycatcher

- Eye-ringed Tody-tyrant

- Yellow Tyrannulet

- Tawny-crowned Tyrannulet

- White-crested Tyrannulet

- Yellow-bellied Eleania  --  like the Carribean;  I've also seen this one in Venezuela.

- White-crested Eleania -- also in Venezuela.

- Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet -- also seen in SE Arizona (:-)  still awake!!!)

- Sepia-capped Flycatcher

- Gray-hooded Flycatcher

- Cliff Flycatcher

- White-rumped Swallow  - scarce apparently

- Brown-chested Martin

- Blue-and-white Swallow  --  Very common.  Like a metallic blue Tree Swallow with dusky undertail area.

- Southern Rough-winged Swallow -- few. More common to the south where I've seen

- lots in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.

- Long-billed Wren

- House Wren

- Tropical Mockingbird

- Chalk-browned Mockingbird

- Rufous-bellied Thrush - few; March.  I've seen many more in Sao Paulo.

- Creamy-bellied Thrush - also apparently more common further south.

- Long-billed Gnatwren

- Rufous-crowned Greenlet

- Lemon-crested Greenlet

- Shiny Cowbird

- Crested Oropendola

- Chopi Blackbird

- Chestnut-capped Blackbird

- Unicolored Blackbird

- White-browed Blackbird

- Tropical Parula  -- my first!  One seen and heard in March.

- Masked Yellowthroat

- Golden-crowned Warbler  -- several in June.

- Bannanaquit

- Chestnut-vented Conebill

- Bicolored Conebill -- a Tennessee Warbler-looking bird!

- Red-legged Honeycreeper

- Blue Dacnis  -- a few in March;  I've seen many more further south in Sao Paulo.

- Swallow-tanager

- Blue-napped Chlorephonia

- Orange-bellied Euphonia

- Purple-throated Euphonia

- Violaceous Euphonia

- Chestnut-bellied Euphonia

- Fawn-breasted Tanager

- Green-headed Tanager

- Red-necked Tanager

- Burnish-buff Tanager

- Brazilian Tanager

- Cinnamon Tanager

- Ruby-crowned Tanager

- Buff-throated Saltator --  several seen during June.

- Green-winged Saltator

- Yellow-green Grosbeak

- Rusty-collared Seedeater

- Yellow-bellied Seedeater

- Lesser Seed-finch

- Misto Yellow-finch

- Gray Pileated-finch

- Grassland Sparrow

- Rufous-collared Sparrow  -- none in June!  Very common to abundant previously in Sao Paulo.

- Wedge-tailed Grass-finch

- Hooded Siskin  -  a few in March.

- House Sparrow - I

- Common Waxbill - I

I found it most useful to study references and then go into the field taking notes on all birds seen, vocalizations; I didn't carry any guide into the field.  I would then match my notes against references.  References used primarily were Tudor/Ridgeway "Birds of South America, Vol I & II".  Also, Birding Brazil (Bruce Forrester).  I would listen for any vocalization and then try and find it (for me, extremely difficult) and birds didn't respond much to my pishing.  Consequently many birds defied identification.

I left off birds seen on previous trips to Sao Paulo.  Many more parrot-types and tanagers seen there.

Most of the flycatchers were seen in March.  The only one seen in June but not March was Cliff, a neat orange phoebe that likes hotels.

David Abbott
Herndon, VA

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