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  • Writer's pictureJo O

5 Tips to Birdwatching in Brazil

Being such an enormous country, Brazil is blessed with a rich diversity of everything but when we talk of natural habitats, it’s second to none. There are 6 distinct biomes making it one of the world’s best places to birdwatch and with almost 2,000 species of birds, birders always have a blast no matter what region of the country they visit. We offer regular tours to the Amazon, Pantanal, Atlantic Rainforest, Cerrado and Caatinga. Also we have specialized trips to see specific birds like the Harpy Eagle, the Hummingbirds and the endemic Brazilian Merganser.

Before going, however, follow these essential tips to make your birdwatching more exciting.

1 - Find a good field guide and do some studying BEFORE the trip.

This will give you a nice head start on knowing what is awaiting and gives you a good chance to pick out some targets. Each region has its share of treasures and your guide will help you find them but knowing ahead of time will give yo ua chance to tell him or her what it is you truly want to find. We recommend a general guide to birds in Brazil and a specific guide for the region you are taking for your tour.

Re-read your tour itinerary and see where you will pass and study the birds that occur in the region. You don't need to know the scientific names and all the biology and habits of the species, however the tour will be more enjoyable when you know what to expect.

Some guides we recommend are the A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil, the Birds of Brazil - The Pantanal Cerrado of Central Brazil and the Birds of Brazil - The Atlantic Forest of Southeast Brazil.

2 - Have your target list with you

This goes hand in hand with buying a great guide. Write down your targets  present them to your guide. This is important because there are going to be species that require a bit of footwork. Your guide will advise you where, how and the you can see your specific dream birds. Your target list will be a nice goal plus it will fuel conversation between you, your colleagues and the guide. Communication makes for a richer experience! On top of this, your guide wants you to go home happy, with plenty of lifers checked off your list. This will go a long way in helping him or her do this.

3- Take your time and trust your guide. Show your gratitude by communicating how happy you are with their work and tipping is recommended.

This seems obvious but we get excited and we want to see as many birds as possible. As much as we want to see our winged friends, they don’t necessarily want to see us! Some species are shy. Others come up to the feeder eagerly eating from your hand. Be patient and your guide will lead the way. We use the best birding guides in the country and some are renown experts in certain species. The dense green tropical forest can be intimidating but your guide knows what to listen and look for. It’s almost a work of art watching them in action actually. Always have your binoculars and camera ready and enjoy your guide work magic. We always make sure they know how grateful we are and tipping should definitely be something you consider.

Vanilce Carvalho, our guide in the Amazon Rainforest

4- Appreciate all birds no matter the “wow” factor

We all love the birds that look like they were painted by Jackson Pollock or Picasso. I remember when my main target was the Green Headed Tanager and I nearly freaked out when I saw it. With that said, give props to the less colorful birds. They count on your checklist, they can be just as rare and they are everywhere. Species like Willis’s antbird, the Whiskered flycatcher, the Mouse-colored Tyrannulet and Plumbeos seedeater are less colorful but still interesting birds. The São Paulo Antwren and the Blue-eyed Ground Dove are super rare and endemic to Brazil and are just as thrilling as the colorful birds.

*São Paulo Antwren - The first individual was discovered in 2004 and is the only bird species endemic to the state of São Paulo (Photo: Alysson Fonseca) *Blue-eyed Ground Dove was rediscovered in 2015 and it is considered one of the rarest birds in the world. Studies carried out in recent years have shown that there are no more than 20 specimens in Minas Gerais State. Photo: Rafael Bessa

5- Bird behavior is everything

One of the best ways to identify a bird is through their behavior. In tropical areas where there is a high diversity of birds that seem very similar or identical, observing behavior can be the key to correctly identifying a certain species. Your guide should surely know but the experience is much richer if you can actually come in knowing a little bit about how a bird will behave. Again, study your  guide book beforehand. Also it’s another topic of conversation between you, your peers and the guide.

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