I had business in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Carlos in Nov. 2000. I did some birding near Rio, at Intervales State Park (200 km southwest of Sao Paulo), Itirapina Ecological Station (30 km south of Sao Carlos), and Itatiaia National Park (170 km northwest of Rio). Intervales contains some of the finest remaining Atlantic Forest habitat. Itirapina contains excellent cerrado habitat (grasslands and scrub). Itatiaia is located in the mountains. I put 1932 km on the rental car. Below is the list of 223 species that I saw or heard (including three species seen during a brief return to the area in 2001). It was my first trip to Brazil and only my second trip to South America. On my first trip to South America (Peru in Apr. 2000), I was on my own and totally overwhelmed by all the new birds and the lack of a comprehensive field guide. On this trip, I had the luxury of birding with two experienced Brazilian birders, Dalcio Dacol and Paulo Martuscelli, who was kind enough to make special arrangements for Dalcio and me to stay at the research dormitory at Intervales.
Dalcio and I arrived in Rio on Nov. 7, where we attended a conference on the Ilha do Governador the rest of that week. Our hotel was near the Botanical Garden, which is a wonderful place to take a walk and where we saw White-tufted Marmosets, Channel-billed Toucan, Green-winged Saltator, Double-collared Seedeater, and some of the common tanagers. We drove to Intervales on Nov. 11. Some of the highlights along the way were Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Roadside Hawk, Savanna Hawk, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Gray Monjita, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, and Guira Cuckoo. I will never forget seeing and hearing Bare-throated Bellbirds as we entered Intervales. We arrived late in the day and went for a short walk after rendezvousing with Paulo. Some of the highlights were Solitary Tinamou, Brown Tinamou, Hooded Berryeater, Spot-billed Toucanet, Blue Manakin, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, and Yellow-legged Thrush.
We birded Intervales from dawn to dusk on Nov. 12, which was the best day of the trip. Among the highlights were Yellow-legged Tinamou, Blue-bellied Parrot, Scaly-headed Parrot, Pileated Parrot, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Orange-breasted Falcon (rare in this area), Red-breasted Toucan, White-necked Puffbird, Golden-crowned Warbler, White-rimmed Warbler, Masked Yellowthroat, and many flycatchers, tanagers, antbirds, and woodcreepers. We also saw howler and capuchin monkeys, tapir tracks, and several coral snakes. When we returned late in the afternoon, we saw a flock of Plumbeous Kites and heard Blackish Rail and Rufous-sided Crake in the marsh near the dormitory. I made it outside before dawn on Nov. 13 and heard a Common Potoo. We spent that day and the next further exploring the park. Some of the highlights were Mantled Hawk, Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Green-backed Becard, Long-billed Wren, Cliff Flycatcher, and Short-tailed Hawk. I heard a bird do a perfect rendition of the football song, "Here we go Tigers. Here we go." I didn't see the bird, but it was a thrush-like whistle. We also saw mountain lion tracks. After hiking long distances during the day, we looked forward to feasting on the hearty food that was provided each evening. After several unsuccessful attempts on previous trips to the southern hemisphere, I finally saw the Magellanic Clouds, which were spectacular in the clear and dark sky.
After a partial day of birding on Nov. 15, we left for Sao Carlos. The highlights were Robust Woodpecker (my first Campephilus woodpecker) and Curl-crested Jay (it's always exciting to see a new corvid). We finished our business in Sao Carlos on Nov. 16 and spent the next day at Itirapina. It was my first experience in a South American grassland. We saw several characteristic species of this habitat, such as Grassland Sparrow, Great Pampa-Finch, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, and Sharp-tailed Grass-Tyrant. The other highlights of the day were Aplomado Falcon, Black-faced Tanager, and Black-bellied Seedeater. On the way back to Rio on Nov. 18, we stopped at Itatiaia and saw Tufted Antshrike, Dusky-legged Guan, Saffron Toucanet, and Frilled Coquette and enjoyed watching more than a dozen Black Jacobinís swarming around a feeder.
We attended the same conference in Nov. 2001. We had limited time for birding and made brief visits to the Botanical Garden, Tijuca National Park in Rio, and Serras dos Orgaos National Park in Teresopolis. New birds for the trip included Black-and-gold Cotinga, Flame-crested Tanager, and a large flock of Brassy-breasted Tanagers (these gorgeous birds foraged in low vegetation right at our feet).
(h) = heard only
Solitary Tinamou (h), Brown Tinamou (h), Yellow-legged Tinamou (h), Dusky-legged Guan, Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, White-spotted Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Robust Woodpecker, Saffron Toucanet, Spot-billed Toucanet, Channel-billed Toucan, Red-breasted Toucan, White-necked Puffbird, White-tailed Trogon, Surucua Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot (h), Ringed Kingfisher, Squirrel Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Guira Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo (h), Maroon-bellied Parakeet, White-eared Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Plain Parakeet, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Pileated Parrot, Scaly-headed Parrot, Blue-bellied Parrot, White-collared Swift, Gray-rumped Swift, Ashy-tailed Swift, Scale-throated Hermit, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Black Jacobin, White-vented Violet-ear, Frilled Coquette, Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-throated Hummingbird, Burrowing Owl, Common Potoo (h), Pauraque, Long-trained Nightjar, Rock Dove, Picazuro Pigeon, Pale-vented Pigeon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Eared Dove, Scaled Dove, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Blue Ground-Dove, Rufous-sided Crake (h), Gray-necked Wood-Rail (h), Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Blackish Rail (h), Common Moorhen, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing, American Oystercatcher, Kelp Gull, Swallow-tailed Kite, White-tailed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, Mantled Hawk, Savanna Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Laughing Falcon (h), Barred Forest-Falcon, Collared Forest-Falcon, Crested Caracara, Yellow-headed Caracara, American Kestrel, Aplomado Falcon, Orange-breasted Falcon, Neotropic Cormorant, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Cocoi Heron, Great Egret, Striated Heron, Black Vulture, Magnificent Frigatebird, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Greenish Tyrannulet, Large Elaenia, Plain-crested Elaenia, Sharp-tailed Grass-Tyrant, Sao Paulo Tyrannulet, Oustalet's Tyrannulet, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Bay-ringed Tyrannulet, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, White-throated Spadebill, Russet-winged Spadebill, Cliff Flycatcher, Fuscous Flycatcher, Euler's Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, Gray Monjita, Masked Water-tyrant, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Cattle Tyrant, Shear-tailed Gray Tyrant, Rufous-tailed Attila (h), Gray-hooded Attila (h), Short-crested Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Variegated Flycatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Green-backed Becard, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Crested Becard, Black-tailed Tityra, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Hooded Berryeater, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Bare-throated Bellbird, Sharpbill (h), Blue Manakin, Tufted Antshrike, Great Antshrike (h), Variable Antshrike, Ferruginous Antbird, Ochre-rumped Antbird, Rufous-winged Antwren, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Streak-capped Antwren, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Squamate Antbird, Rufous Hornero, Rufous-capped Spinetail (h), Chicli Spinetail (h), Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner (h), White-collared Foliage-gleaner, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Streaked Xenops, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, White-throated Woodcreeper, Planalto Woodcreeper, Scaled Woodcreeper, Lesser Woodcreeper, Speckle-breasted Antpitta (h), Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Red-eyed Vireo, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Curl-crested Jay, Yellow-legged Thrush, Rufous-bellied Thrush, Pale-breasted Thrush, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Long-billed Wren, House Wren, White-rumped Swallow, Brown-chested Martin, Blue-and-White Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Hooded Siskin, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Grassland Sparrow, Tropical Parula, Masked Yellowthroat, Golden-crowned Warbler, White-rimmed Warbler, Bananaquit, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Black-faced Tanager, Magpie Tanager, Rufous-headed Tanager, Flame-crested Tanager, Ruby-crowned Tanager, White-lined Tanager, Black-goggled Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Sayaca Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager, Palm Tanager, Diademed Tanager, Purple-throated Euphonia, Violaceous Euphonia, Green-headed Tanager, Red-necked Tanager, Brassy-breasted Tanagers, Burnished-buff Tanager, Blue Dacnis, Saffron Finch, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Great Pampa-Finch, Blue-black Grassquit, Buffy-fronted Seedeater (h), Plumbeous Seedeater, Double-collared Seedeater, Capped Seedeater, Black-bellied Seedeater, Green-winged Saltator, Red-rumped Cacique, Golden-winged Cacique, Epaulet Oriole (h), Unicolored Blackbird, Chestnut-capped Blackbird, White-browed Blackbird, Shiny Cowbird