Southeast Brazil Part II Oct 08—18, 2009

Posted by Kevin Zimmer

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Kevin Zimmer

Kevin Zimmer has authored three books and numerous papers dealing with field identification and bird-finding in North America. His book, Birding in the American West: A Han...

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Our Southeast Brazil Part II tour was immensely successful, producing over 300 species (95 of them regional and/or Brazilian endemics) in just eight days of birding!

Chief among the highlights was the fabulous flock of 7 Cherry-throated Tanagers at Caetés! After missing this mega-rarity the past two years, it was a major coup to be able to enjoy prolonged studies, including scope views. Long known from only a single nineteenth-century specimen and a 1941 sighting of 8 birds, this species was rediscovered in the 1990s. Since then, the entire known population has consisted of just a few family groups, and may number less than 20 birds total (although it is likely that there are more out there that have yet to be detected). After finding the tanager, almost anything would seem like a letdown, but there were more highlights to be gleaned from Caetés, including a nesting Swallow-tailed Cotinga, stunning studies of a male Shrike-like Cotinga (a.k.a. Elegant Mourner, a.k.a. Brazilian Laniisoma—another of the most poorly known of all Atlantic Forest endemics), and an elegant male Pin-tailed Manakin.

For sheer spectacle, nothing could top the hummingbird feeders at Santa Teresa, with over 500 individuals of 17 species present. A single bush had up to 7 adult male Frilled Coquettes perched in it at once, which would be enough to put any birder into sensory overload. The general consensus among the group was that this equaled or exceeded any hummingbird show in the collective group experience, including some of the rightfully famous ones in Ecuador.

The lowland forest preserved in the Linhares and Sooretama reserves added numerous range-restricted endemics, from magnificent Red-billed Curassows to flashy Ochre-marked Parakeets and Red-browed Parrots, to the rare Plumbeous Antvireo and Band-tailed Antwren, to the, well, minute Minute Hermit. These sites also added an Amazonian element, introducing us to isolated populations of widespread Amazonian birds, including such things as Screaming Piha, Bright-rumped Attila, Orange-winged Parrot, Thrush-like and Moustached wrens, and Yellow-backed Tanager.

Along the way, we enjoyed numerous wonderful meals, sinfully good icy caipirinhas, and loads of famously friendly Brazilian hospitality. All in all, a most congenial group of birders saw a bunch of really special birds, and had great fun in the process! We look forward to seeing each and every one of you on future trips. After all, that Brazilian visa is good for five years, and there are bunches of more birds to see! 

Favorite Birds of the Trip (as voted by the group)

1. Cherry-throated Tanager
2. Pin-tailed Manakin
3. Frilled Coquette
4. Red-billed Curassow
5. Streamer-tailed Tyrant