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A Report from

North-east Brazil April 2004 & May 2005,


By Eduard Sangster (


As always, the goal of my trips to the NE was to see as many species as possible, especially the 63+ endemics to NE Brazil. It is impossible to cover whole endemic-packed Northeast in 2 weeks, so in 2004 I only birded Bahia state. In 2005 I birded coastal Pernambuco, Alagoas, Paraiba, Rio Grande do Norte. Therefore I left the states of Sergipe, Ceara and Piaui for a next visit. If you want to cover the whole of NE Brazil, I’ll recommend at least 6 weeks of independent birding. If you do not speak Portuguese and you do not have much time for a thorough preparation, I definately recommend an organised tour to the NE (more info see ‘Best way to go’). Unless of course you accept to miss crucial endemics.

It was my third visit to Brazil (and South America). My first visit was a 4 week trip in 2002 to the excellent Southeast, the beautiful Iguacu Falls and the amazing Pantanal area. On my 2004 trip to Bahia I saw 198 species, including 109 ‘lifers’, 16 red data species and 22 endemics to NE Brazil. My 2005 trip was not a very active birdingtrip so I only saw 28 lifers, including 8 red data species. If you go birding full time, you will see more species. I was not birding all the time since the prime object of my non-birding girlfriend was not looking at skulking brown birds in isolated forest patches every morning...

This report aims at helping you to see more species than I did. Consider this report as an addition to the wealthy site-information of Jeremy Minns on For the southern sites (sites 1,2,24) all information (including maps) is on John van der Woude’s website

Why the Northeast?

Brazil is the fifth’s largest country in the world, bigger than Australia or Western Europe and hold almost 1800 species. As Brazil is endemic-packed (200), surely one visit will not be enough. The Brazilian bird-areas ranked by present day popularity:

1.      Southeast: the majority of the Atlantic Forest (of which only 2% remains today!) endemics occur here. For the rest though, you have to go to the (north)east.
2.      North Pantanal (Transpantaneira): excellent, easy birding and photographing at the biggest swamp in the world, near the Bolivian border.
3.      Amazonia: the Amazon Bassin. Most people go to Alta Floresta. Good to combine with a visit to North Pantanal.
4.      North-east: endemic-packed like the Southeast and the most endangered part of Brazil.Your visit cannot be too early and should really rank on top of this list.
5.      Iguacu: spectacular waterfalls and excellent birding. Easily to combine with a visit to the Southeast and don’t forget to go the South too.
6.      Central Brazil: excellent bird/animal-watching at Emas NP (‘Africa in Brazil’) and the Brazilian Merganser sites.
7.      South Pantanal: excellent, easy birding and photographing in and along the biggest swamp in the world.
8.      South : excellent red data birding at the states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Many endemics and restricted-range species!

It’s obvious why to go to the NE: the Atlantic Forest here is far, far more threatened than the southeastern part. Of the 63+ Northeast endemics 48 are red data species! The area is far less known to science (and birders) than the Southeast; in recent times almost every year a new species is described from this part of Brazil. This birdreport aims to stimulate visits to the NE as it combines a lot of scattered information you’ll need to make your visit a succes. If visiting NE Brazil you should cover the following habitats to see all endemics:

1.      Caatinga (6 Brazilian endemics occur in this habitat): NE Brazil’s immense, arid interior is dominated by a unique habitat known as caatinga. An association of thorn scrub, columnar cacti, and huge terrestrial bromeliads. This region harbours an endemic avifauna that includes some of the least known and most endangered species of birds on the South American continent. The last Spix’s Macaw was seen here in November 2000. The most visited site is Jeremoabo-Canudos.

2.      Atlantic slopes of Alagoas and Pernambuco (15): thanks to massive deforestation this habitat is among the most threatened of the world. The coastal Atlantic Forest holds many critically endangered species, only known from a few scattered forest patches, mostly not bigger than a few square kms. The most visited site is Murici.

3.      Deciduous forest of Bahia (2): this dry primary forest lies between the drier caatinga and the wetter Atlantic Forest. This habitat is also known as ‘mata-de-cipo’. Highly threatened, 4 larger patches remains today. The most visited site is Boa Nova (dry forest).

4.      Inland hills and tablelands (7): different habitats between 1000-1500 meters. The most visited site is Chapada Diamantina.

5.      Atlantic forest lowlands (55 Brazilian endemics occur in this habitat in whole Brazil): low level forest along the coast south of Salvador nearly till Argentina. The most visited sites in the north-east are Linhares, Sooretama, Porto Seguro, Una and Monte Pascoal.

6.      Atlantic forest mountains (23 Brazilian endemics occur in this habitat in whole Brazil): montane evergreen forest from Boa Nova southwards to Argentina. The only site in the north-east is Boa Nova (wet forest). 

7.      Deciduous forests of N Minas Gerais, SE Goias and S Bahia (2): dry tropical forest along the rivers Sao Francisco and Parana. The most visited site is Cipo NP.  

Convince your non-birding partner

If you have a non-birding girlfriend like me, or like to do something else than birding (why?!), there are plenty of excellent beaches and nice little colonial villages along the coast, serving excellent food and various activities, e.g. horseriding. In the interior of Bahia, the Chapada Diamantina (Diamond’s Mountains) are also attractive, with the nice village of Lencois where there are excellent hotels and plenty of stuff to do for non-birders. The surrounding NPs are a tracking paradise. The Noronha Islands are excellent for diving, surfing and relaxing and holds 2 endemics and loads of seabirds.

Best Way to Go

It’s not easy to see a fair amount of the endemics of NE Brazil. Roads are bad, access to crucial sites are restricted or impossible to find due to lack of roadsigns, most endemics are rare and hard to find without directions and without tapes. Apart from the 5-star hotels in touristic areas, nobody speaks (not even a little bit) English or Spanish. The positive thing about travelling in NE Brazil is that it is safe and it has fantastic scenery.

If you want to go independently you should speak a fair bit of  Portuguese and you need a lot of time for a thorough preparation before you set off to the north-east. The best option is probably to outsource all troubles and hire a professional birdguide for your trip to NE Brazil. The crucial preparation of your trip is done, you have no worries about driving and you can enjoy the company of a good birder. There are several guides to find on the internet, e.g. Ricardo Parrini, Andy Whittaker, Edson Endrigo More info at If you prefer to go with a group, there are several touroperators offering their trips to the wonderful north-east, e.g.:,,,


All year round is good. August to March is the least rain along the coast. Most tours go to the north-east from October till June. Most singing birds between April-July. Holiday season in Brazil is December/January. 


You’ll definitely need a (rental) car for birding the north-east. If you go independently AVIS provides the best offer, like in most places in Brazil. You probably get a better price if you book ahead in your own country. The best deal in the Netherlands was with Arke. We paid for the smallest air-conditioned car (Volkswagen Gol) EUR 300 for 12 days, including all insurances. It’s not really necessary to get airco, but it certainly adds to the general holiday-happiness at 35 degrees Celsius. On average we paid for petrol (gasolina comun) 2 reais (EUR 0,60) per liter. Plenty gasstations along the coast. In interior Brazil it’s wise to tank full when possible.

Don’t rent alcohol-engined cars because they are unreliable and don’t start when it is cold (mornings at higher elevations!).

Roads & roadmaps

In northeast Brazil roads are fine, except for some roads in Bahia. The worst thing about the Bahia roads is that they are unpredictable. Good surface is, because of the soil underneath, sometimes instantly replaced by a worse potholed road. Big holes, caused by heavy rains and heavy trucks, are on every road, minor or highway, and are always unexpected. Therefor BE CAREFUL when driving in Bahia and avoid driving after sunset. If you miss one of the numerous big holes in the road, your car is likely to break.

Despite all this we had no problems with the cars om both trips, not even a flat tyre in our 4000km (2004) + 1700km (2005) of driving. In Bahia the good birding spots are far between. In Bahia 50km p/h is the maximum average speed you can drive on the long straps (no, I’m no pussy-driver, you’ll feel Michael Schumacher driving this speeds on some roads). For these reasons count in enough time for travelling between the birdingsites! In the rest of the north-east you can drive much faster (80km).

Because of this safety reasons, try to avoid driving at night. Highways are always two-way. Keep in mind that on the dirtroad to the Lear’s Macaw the average speed will be 15/20km, with no roadbirding being done.

It is very useful to speak a little bit of Portuguese, as smaller roads in Bahia are not well signposted and you’ll have to ask directions sometimes.

At news-stands  good roadmaps are available. We used the Guia Quatro Rodas 2004, which proved to be reliable. 


It’s not necessary to take Brazilian Reais with you. We didn’t. Useable ATMs are present in all big and medium-sized towns, not only along the coast. All HSBC banks has ATMs where you withdraw cash, opened 24h a day. Most of Banco do Brasil hold some ATMs with cash withdraw for foreign accounts. Other bank’s ATMs are only for domestic accounts. At ATMs you receive a better rate than changing money. If you want to bring along cash with you take US$, Euros or British Pounds.

Life is cheap in Brazil. Excluding flights and the rental car we spent 3000 reais (equals at present rate EUR 850) for two persons in 14 days (Bahia 2004). 

Since a few years there is no longer tax to be paid when leaving the country.


Cheap and good. Higher prices along the touristic sites along the coast. Prices are for two persons and include breakfast. Breakfasts are excellent everywhere. Along the coast prices for good and clean pousadas (small and attractive hotel) are around 50-80 Reais (15-24 euro) for a double during low season. If you have the money, there is more luxurious accomodation for a much higher price. Inland sites are not touristic at all, besides Lencois in Chapada Diamantina. The inland hotels are basic, reasonably clean but don’t expect too much of it. Here you pay 20-30 Reais (6-9 euro) for a double.

Food & drinks

Cheap, good and available everywhere.

Health, safety & annoyances

Some vaccinations are necessary. No malaria in the north-east, but still be aware of mosquitoes as they hold Dengue.

Brazil is often just associated with the very unsafe favela neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, but this doesn’t do justice to the country. Brazil is very safe, especially for experienced travellers who don’t do stupid things like walking around with big camera’s at night, etc. Along the coast, as in every touristic area in any country, be aware of robbery. The inland is even safer as it is not as touristic. We felt very safe during both trips and experienced no troubles at all, but fellow travellers were robbed of their camera, money and pasports.


Portuguese. Except at 5-star hotels along the coast, REALLY nobody speaks English, or any other language (including Spanish or French) in Bahia. In the smaller states up north some people speak a little bit of English. It is very useful to speak a little bit of Portuguese, as smaller roads are not well signposted and you’ll often have to ask directions.


Photo-equipment - as most sites are forest-sites, don’t expect to make a lot of beautiful pictures like in the Pantanal. In 4 weeks I only made 100 photo’s of birds.

Tapes – take tapes with you for the antbirds and the ovenbirds. Best buy would be ‘Songs of the Antbirds’ by Isler & Whitney. The little buggers are hard to find without a tape, especially the pittas. There are also tapes for woodpeckers and I recommend you bring along these as well. You can buy tapes at For flycatchers, manakins and cotingas tapes can also be of use, but are not (yet) available. At this moment there is also no tape for the responsive NE Brazil’s ovenbirds-endemics, as far as I know.

Telescope – handy when roadbirding, for instance at lakes. Take it with you if you can.

Books, reports, magazines & internet-sites

I took along with me one birdguide and a self-made booklet with xeroxed information out of books, reports, magazines and taken from internet. It took me hours to compile. This report is a compilation of all the information in this booklet and of course describes my own experiences. I’ll hope this report will make your preparation somewhat easier. 

Books - Of course take a Lonely Planet with you (or another travelbook with up-to-date information).

For birding I used Deodato Souza–All the Birds of Brazil (2002). Poor illustrations, but it’s the only birdguide for the endemic-packed north-east, so what can you do? If you have trouble getting this book, you can buy the book for approx. U$45 via

I left ‘The Birds of South America’ handbooks by Ridgely & Tudor at home and used it for some identification pitfalls (e.g. flycatchers, spinetails and nightjars).

As birding in NE Brazil has evolved rapidly (new sites, old sites ruined by loggers, access-changes, improvement of roads) Bruce Forrester’s Birding Brazil is out-of-date nowadays for this part of Brazil and therefor (only for this region of Brazil!) it is not necessary to buy this book.

Less sites covered, not much crucial information, but more up-to-date isWhere to watch birds in South America’ by Nigel Wheatley.

Also very useful are the Birdlife’s publications Key areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics (Wege & Long 1995), Threatened Birds of the Americas and Endemic Bird Areas of the World (2004). You will get an idea of how threatened some species are and at which alarming rate the Atlantic Forest and other habitats are wasted in NE Brazil.

Internet – By far the best information about birds and birdingsites in Brazil on the internet is at: For Southeast and the southern sites of the Northeast check John van der Woude’s website

Recent birdreports can best be found at: and via

As birding is evolving, check for latest info about taxonomy and proposed splits the excellent website of Rolf de By: The site covers all continents.

Reports - There were NO (good) reports for the Northeast available at the internet at the time of my visit. I used the following reports from old collections: Nick & Daryl Gardner–Birding trip to Brazil, May-June 1990 (good), Beadle, Bostock, Hornbuckle & Kirwan–Birding in Eastern Brazil, January-March 1995 (very good), Sargeant & Wall-A Birder’s Guide to Bahia 1995 (excellent). All site information that was not out-dated, is included in this report. Therefor I recommend only the latter report as it is still very usefull for its checklist of Bahia, with status discussion for all birds ever recorded in Bahia and some discussion of identication pitfalls. Maybe you can still purchase the report via Dave Sargeant, email:

Magazines - The Neotropical Bird Club’s magazine Cotinga hold a few interesting articles. The only one useful so far directly for birding (we are now at nr.17, the Brazil special) is Cotinga nr.11 which holds an excellent article about a bird survey at the Chapada Diamantina area.


If you want to (try to) see all the NE specials allow at least 6 weeks of independent birding of a organized tour.

Itinerary of my 2004 tour in Bahia

As earlier stated I had only two weeks and as I was with my non-birding girlfriend not all sites visited by us are the birding hotspots. Birdingsites are bold. I birded 7 mornings on my trip.

March 28         Amsterdam – Porto Seguro

March 29         Porto Seguro : birding around hotel, relaxing at the beach

March 30         Porto Seguro : relaxing at the beach, shopping, etc.

March 31         Early morning birding at Porto Seguro Private Reserve (good forest: coastal Atlantic Forest). I was kicked out of this private reserve when the owner arrived at 8 o’clock and noticed my presence after two hour of birding. I made no reservations and there was no guide to accompany me at that moment. We spent the night in an wonderful pousada right on the ocean’s beach in Canavieiras.

April 1             Birding at noon at Una EcoParque at Una (good forest: coastal Atlantic Forest). We slept at the touristic island Ilha de Tinhare. Very nice island indeed: no roads, just beach, shops and restaurants.

April 2            Shopping at Ilha de Tinhare, travelling through the nice city of Salvador to touristic Praia do Forte.

April 3            Relaxing at the beach, horse riding, visiting the turtle-sanctuary. December-February the turtles lay their eggs. April-June the chicks come out of the eggs and you can see them make their way to the see at night. We were just in between and did see nothing, only the sanctuary where captive turtles are shown to the public to make them aware of these beautiful primitive and vulnerable creatures. Between July-October you can do whale-watching trips here. In this period you have a good chance to see Humpback Whales.

April 4              Long, long drive to Jeremoaba, where the dirtroad starts to the only site left in the world for Lear’s Macaws.

April 5             Birding along the dirtroad Jeremoaba – Canudos. Night at Canudos.

April 6             Early morning birding along the dirtroad south of Canudos. Long drive from Canudos to the nice town of Lencois, right in the middle of Chapada Diamantina, a beautiful national park area with many different habitats.

April 7             Birding in Chapada Diamantina.

April 8             Birding and horse riding in Chapada Diamantina.

April 9             Birding at Chapada Diamantina. Long drive to the small city of Boa Nova, probably one of the best birding sites of South America.

April 10           Birding at Boa Nova (dry and wet forests). Drive to Porto Seguro.

April  11          Porto Seguro – Amsterdam.

Itinerary of my 2005 tour in Rio Grande do Norte, Paraiba, Pernambuco & Alagoas.

May 20            Amsterdam – Natal

May 21-23      Natal: relaxing and shopping.

May 24            Natal: good birding at the nature reserve in the city center of Natal: Parc das Dunas, where I ‘rediscovered’ a healthy population of the near-threatened and highly endemic Pectoral Antwren. Driving to Pipa in the afternoon.

May 25-26      Pipa. Mainly relaxing at this small town. Birding at the Pipa Reserva Ecologico proved to be useless, as the reserve only opens way after sunrise, when it is too hot for birds to be active.

May 27            Pipa – Porto de Galinhas. Relaxing

May 28            Porto de Galinhad – Quebrangulo / Pedra Talhada    . As the regular accomodation was not in use temporarely (?) local people were so kind to offer us a place top sleep.

May 29            Pedra Talhada (birding site 18): birding! In the afternoon we drove to Quilombo Parque Hotel at Uniao de Palmares.

May 30            A rainy day. Did some birding at the excellent grounds of the Quilombo Parque Hotel. All the organized tours stay here to visit excellent Murici, which is an our away.

May 31                       Early start to meet the young professor Jose Alves Siqueira at the factory ‘Usina Colonia’ near the town of Jacqueira (birding site 20). We drove in his 4WD to the excellent forest reserve RPPN Frei Caneca. We slept in basic but clean accomodation in the reserve.

June 1              Birding at the reserve near Jacqueira. Due to the rain birding was not very good, but I still managed to see some rare specialties. Afternoon drive to the touristic city of Carapebus.

June 2              Carapebus – Natal

June 3              Natal - Amsterdam

The Birds

This huge country boasts an impressive bird list of nearly 1700 species, but it is the very high number of endemics, some 200 in total, that particularly lures the international birder to this enormous chunk of South America.  There are 63+ endemics in NE Brazil. I defined NE Brazil as the area north of where the birdingtours don’t go for the southeast. This means a massive area (see map), from Sooretama up north. It includes the norhern parts of the states of  Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais and the states of Bahia, Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraiba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara and Piaui.

Information about status of the species is taken from the three Birdlife publications (see references) and Information about the known sites is extracted from reports, books and magazines (see references). The terms Critical, Endangered, Vulnerable and Near-threatened are in descending threat-level. Much more information about the red data species is to be found at

English and scientific names are from the (only fieldguide to Brazil): Deodato Souza-All the birds of Brazil (2002). Some new species are described since publication and some subspecies are split since publication. This list of all the endemics should be correct, complete and up-to-date (June 2005). If not, please contact me at

N.B. Yet nothing is known about possible future splits of the isolated populations in NE Brazil of White-bellied Tinamou (Nothura boraquira)(also Bolivia/Paraguay) and Greater Wagtail-Tyrant (Stigmatura budytoides gracilis) (also Argentina/Bolivia). Therefor these species are not included in this list.

English name

Scientific name


Habitat & best sites

1. White-collared Hawk

Split from Grey-headed Kite L. cayanensis

Leptodon forbesi


Forest. Very rare, only known from 4 sites: Azul (Pernambuco), Pedra Talhada and Murici (Alagoas).

2.White-browed Guan

Penelope jacucaca


Dry stunted forest and caatinga in the lowland.

Araripe and Murici.

3. Alagoas Curassow

Mitu mitu

Extinct. Thought to be extinct, but refound in very small numbers in 1958. Last fieldrecord in 1988. In 1999 44 birds in captive populations. 

Last records are from Sao Miguel dos Campos in Alagoas state, but all the forest here in now gone, as probably is this species.

4. Lear’s Macaw

Anodorhynchus leari

Critical. Thought to be extinct, but finally refound in December 1978 by Sick. At that time population was around 60, current estimate is 150 birds.

Caatinga. Only spot is at two fazenda’s along the dirtroad Jeremoabo-Canudos in northern Bahia. I saw 6 birds here.

5. Spix’ Macaw

Cyanopsitta spixii

Extinct. The last 3  birds in the wild were traced down in the 1980s, in the 1990s only one bird survived and was last seen in November 2000.

Caatinga. At present, go to private collections. 200 birds are in captivity..

6. Golden-capped Parakeet

Split from Sun Parakeet,

A. solstitialis.

Aratinga auricapilla


Semi-deciduous forest, but forages and breeds in forest edge, adjacent secondary growth and agricultural areas. Best sites are Monte Pascoal and Chapada Diamantina.

7. Cactus or Caatinga Parakeet

Aratinga cactorum


Caatinga. I saw this species along the dirtroad Jeremoabo-Canudos and Chapada Diamantina.

8. Grey-headed Parakeet

Split from P. leucotis

(Ornitologia Neotropical 8 (1997): 121-132)

Pyrrhura griseopectus

Not rated yet, not yet split by Birdlife.

Forests of Ceara, Alagoas, Pernambuco (Serra Negra). E.g. Murici.

9. Pernambuco Pygmy-Owl

Not in most books yet.

Glaucidium mooreorum

Critical. Species described in december 2002 (Ararajuba 10 (2)).

Evergreen forest. Specimens and subsequent field records are from Reserva Biological de Saltinho (4,8km2), which is not (yet?) visited by birdtours. Also one record in Usina Trapiche, Sirinhaem. Both in the state of Pernambuco.

10. Caatinga or Bahian or Plain-tailed Nighthawk

Nyctiprogne vielliardi (originally described as Chordeiles vielliardi)

Near-threatened. Species described in 1994.

Caatinga. Known from 2 sites: bridge over the Sao Francisco at Junuaria (Minas Gerais), also at a spot in Bahia (unknown to me).

11. Pygmy Nightjar

Caprimulgus hirundinaceus


Caatinga. Best sites are Petrolina & Lagoa Grande.

12. Hook-billed Hermit

Glaucis dohrnii


Atlantic Forest lowland in Bahia. Recent reports from only three sites. Porto Seguro is best spot. Also at Monte Pascoal NP.

13. Broad-tipped Hermit

Phaethornis gounellei


Caatinga. I saw this species in Chapada Diamantina. Also at Boa Nova wet forest and Jeremoabo.

14. Long-tailed Woodnymph

Thalurania watertonni

Fairly common.

Forest, parks. Murici is good spot. I saw several birds at the forest(edge) at Pedra Talhada.

15. Hooded Visorbearer

Augastes lumachellus


Arid montane and semi-arid scrub at 950-1600m. Best site in Chapada Diamantina (I found it common at one spot). Also at Morro do Chapeu.

16. Ochraceous Piculet

Picumnus limae


Semi-deciduous forest and adjacent tall caatinga on hillsides, 0-1,000 m. Serra de Ibiapaba, Serra do Baturité and Serra do Arataruai in north-central Ceara. Only a few  records in caatinga in Bahia, but I saw a lookalike at Boa Nova wet forest! Nothing else matches…

17. Tawny Piculet

Picumnus fluvescens


Caatinga & secondary forest. Pedra Talhada, Murici in NE Alagoas; Chapada do Araripe is probably your best option.

18. Caatinga Woodpecker.

Split from Rufous-headed Woodpecker C. spectabilis

Celeus obrienti


Known only from one specimen, found in 1926 in Piaui (Bull. B.O.C. 119(4):235-260, 1999).

19. Spotted Piculet

Picumnus pygmaeus

Fairly common.

Forest. Many sites in Atlantic Forest. Boa Nova is a very good spot, I saw it here.

00. Alagoas Plain-brown Woodcreeper

Definite future split.

Dendrocincla (fuliginosa) taunayi


Forest. Murici is probably the best spot.

20. Moustached Woodcreeper

Xyphocolaptes falcirostris


Dry forest. Several sites. Check for latest information.

21. Red-shouldered Spinetail

Gyalophylax hellmayri


Fairly common at several Caatinga sites. I saw the species at Canudos.

22. Grey-headed Spinetail

Cranioleuca semicinerea


Thickets, open areas. Serra de Baturite is probably best spot.

23. Bahia Spinetail

Synallaxis whitneyi

(correct name should be S. cinerea)

Endangered. Species discovered in 1992 at the wet forest near Boa Nova.

Humid forest at 750-1000m, especially dense tagles of vines, ferns and bamboo near forest edge.

Chapada Diamantina (where I saw it) holds the bulk of the population. Boa Nova only 10 pairs.

24. Plain or Pinto’s Spinetail

Synallaxis infuscata


Forest at 0-500m. Recent records only at Murici and at Pedra Talhada in Alagoas state. I saw a pair at Pedra Talhalda.

25. Cipo Canestero

Asthenes luizae

Endangered. Species discovered in 1985.

Isolated rocky crags in unulating grassland. Best spot near Cipo village.

26. Pink-legged Graveteiro

Acrobatornis fonsecai

Vulnerable. Described in 1996 (Wilson Bull. 108 (3): 397-433).

(sub)Canopy in lowland forest and cocoa plantations in Bahia, between the rio Jequitinhonha and the rio das Contas. Easiest spot is Camaca.

27. Caatinga Cacholote

Split in 2000 from Rufous Cacholote, now P. unifufa (Condor 102 (2): 409-422)

Pseudoseisura cristata


Caatinga in the states of e Maranhão, Piauí, Paraíba & Pernambuco s to c Minas Gerais.

I found it very common.

00. Undescribed Treehunter


Critical. Not yet rated by Birdlife.

Discovered very recently at a forestpatch north of Camaca.

28. Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner

Philydor novaesi

Critical. Species discovered in 1975.

Forest at 400-550m. Only known from Murici in Alagoas, but in April 2003 also found in Pernambuco: Reserva Privada do Patrimonio Natural Frei Caneca near the town of Jaqueira (Cotinga nr.20, 2004).

29. Great Xenops

Megaxenops parnaguae


Dense caatinga woodland. Best spots are Araripe, Chapada Diamantina and at Palmas de Monte Alto, Bahia. I failed at Chapada D. (bring a tape!).

30. Silvery-cheeked Antshrike

Sakesphorus cristatus


Caatinga. Several sites. Good spot is near Boa Nova, where I saw it quite easily.

00.     Caatinga Antshrike

Possible future split.

Thamnophilus (doliatus) capistratus


Caatinga. Taxon has red-orange iris and has a

more spotted appearance than barred nominate of Barred Antshrike. I saw it south of Canudos.

31. Narrow-billed Antwren

Formicivora iheringi


Tropical (semi-)deciduous forest with vines and dense understorey of terrestrial bromeliads at 600-900m. Best spot is near Boa Nova, where I missed it due to lack of time.

32. Fringe-backed Fire-eye

Pyriglena atra


Lowland tropical evergreen forest edge & tall secondary growth at 0-100m. Only known from 4+ locations. Best sites are Santo Amaro & Esplanada

33. Caatinga Antwren

Herpsilochmus sellowi

Near-threatened. Species described in 2000 (Auk 117 (4): 869-891).

Caatinga scrub and deciduous woodland, 0-1000m. Uncommon at several sites, best spots are Morro do Chapeau and Araripe.

34. Bahia or Pileated Antwren

Herpsilochmus pileatus


Lowland forest and scrub. Fairly common in its range. Una Ecoparque probably  the best option.

35. Pectoral Antwren

Herpsilochmus pectoralis


Gallery forest and deciduous forest in tall caatinga woodland. Good site is a spot along the dirtroad Jeremoabo-Canudos. I missed it (lack of time).
Very out of route probably, but by far the best site would be Parque das Dunas in the city center of Natal (Rio Grande do Norte). I found the species here common. For Birdlife this were the first known recordings here since 1987. In this reserve in Rio Grande do Norte I found this species very common!

36. Slender Antbird

Rhopornis ardesiaca


Tropical deciduous forest with vines and dense understorey of terrstrial bromeliads at 700-1000m. Best spot near Boa Nova, where it is fairly common. I had 3 birds.

37. Orange-bellied Antwren

Terenura sicki

Endangered. Species described in 1983.

Tropical evergreen forest at 300-700m. Fairly common at Murici; regularly recorded at Pedra Talhada, where I saw 2 birds. Additional records from Usina Serra Grande in 1996, Novo Lino in 1986, and Azul in 1989. In April 2003 also found in Pernambuco: Reserva Privada do Patrimonio Natural Frei Caneca near the town of Jaqueira (Cotinga 20, 2004).

38. Alagoas Antwren

Myrmoyherula snowi

Critical. Species discovered in 1979.

Tropical evergreen forest at 300-700m. Only known from Murici, Alagoas, but in April 2003 also found in Pernambuco: Reserva Privada do Patrimonio Natural Frei Caneca near the town of Jaqueira (Cotinga 20, 2004). I saw one male here.

39. Willis’ Antbird

Recently split form Dusky Antbird C. tyrannina.

Cercomacra laeta

Unknown threatlevel. Birdlife didn’t split this species yet. Most probably red data species.

Lowland forest in Alagoas and Pernambuco. Probably best site is Murici. I saw a bird at Pedra Talhada.

40. White-browed Antpitta

Hylopezus chroleucus


Dense caatinga. Several sites, e.g. Una and Araripe.

41. Stresemann’s Bristlefront

Merulaxis stresemanni

Critical. Known from just three specimens and a fieldrecord.

Tropical lowland evergreen forest. Contrary to there is one fieldrecord: in 1995 near Una (Baudet (2001) Tangara1: 51-56.

42. Bahia Tapaculo

Scytalopus psychopompus

Endangered, known from three specimens. Last record was a pair obtained in 1983 near Valenca.

Flooded areas of thick vegetation in tropical evergreen forest at ca. 45m. No known sites.

43. Araripe Manakin

Antilophia bokermanni

Critical. Species described in 1998 (Ararajuba 6(2):81-84)

Tall, second growth forest with lots of vines. You can see this spectaculair species in Chapada do Araripe,  the only known site in the world.

44. Brazilian or Caatinga Black-Tyrant

Knipolegus franciscanus


Dry tropical deciduous forest on rich soils. Senhor do Bonfim is probably best site.

45. Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant

Hemitriccus mirandae


Forest at 0-900m. Several sites known, but most common at Pedra Talhada in Alagoas.

46. Bahia Tyrannulet

Phylloscartes beckeri

Endangered. Discovered in 1992 in Boa Nova and described in 1995.

Montane evergreen forest and edge at 900-1100m. Chapada Diamantina is your best bet. Rare at Boa Nova (ca. 10 pairs), where I was lucky to see this species.

47. Alagoas or Long-tailed Tyrannulet

Phylloscartes ceciliae

Endangered. Species discovered in 1983 in Murici.

Forest at 400-550m. Only known from two sites: Murici (uncommon) and Pedra Talhada (rare), but in April 2003 also found in Pernambuco: Reserva Privada do Patrimonio Natural Frei Caneca near the town of Jaqueira (Cotinga nr.20, 2004).

00. Brazilian Wagtail-Tyrant

Split from Lesser Wagtail-Tyrant S. napensis

Stigmatura bahiae


Fields with trees. Canudos (where I saw it), Petrolina, Lagoa Grande are good spots.

48. Noronha Elaenia

Split from E. spectabilis

Elaenia ridleyana


Found on two islands of the Fernando do Noronha Archipelago.

49. Campo Suiriri

Suiriri affinis

Fairly common

Cerrado, caatinga.  Boa Nova dry, Canudos, etc

50. White-naped Jay

Cyanocorax cyanopogon


Caatinga. I saw this species naer Canudos and in Chapada Diamantina.

51. Rufous-brown Solitaire

Myadestes leucogenys


Lowland forest.  Recorded at Boa Nova.

52. Noronha Vireo

Vireo gracilirostris


Common in its small range: Fernando do Noronha.

53. Grey-eyed Greenlet

Split from Rufous-crowned Greenlet H. poicilotis

Hylophilus amaurocephalus

Fairly common.

Forest. I saw this species in Boa Nova.

54. Pale Bay-winged Cowbird

Split from M. badius

Molothrus fringillarius

Fairly common

Caatinga. E.g. found near Lagoa Grande or Canudos (I found it here fairly common).

55. Forbe’s Blackbird

Curaeus forbesi


Tropical evergreen forest edge and freshwater marshes at 0-600m. Currently known from five widely scattered sites in east and NE Brazil. Least uncommon at Pedra Talhada, Alagoas, where I saw it too. Maybe still present at nearby Pedra Branca.

56. Cherry-throated Tanager

Nemosia rourei

Critical. Thought to be extinct but refound in 1998.

Currently only known from Fazenda Pindobas IV in Esperitu Santo, near Sooretama.

57. Seven-coloured Tanager

Tangara fastuosa


Forest at 0-850m. Four remaining (known) sites: strongholds at Murici and Pedra Talhada (where I saw 6 birds) in Alagoas. Also in the Serra dos Cavalos and near Goiana in Pernambuco.

58. Scarlet-throated Tanager

Sericossypha loricata

Uncommon and local.

Forest near water. Best sites near Senhor do Bonfim and Jeremoabo.

59. Red-cowled Cardinal

Paroaria dominicana


I saw it several times in any open area.

60. White-throated Seedeater

Sporophila albogularis


Marshes, humid places in caatinga. I saw it near Lencois in Chapada Diamantina.

61. Pale/Buff-throated Pampa-Finch

Embernagra longicauda


Arid montane scrub and agriculture land at 700-1300m. Best site is Chapada Diamantina, where I saw 15 birds.  Also Senhor do Bonfim.

62. Yellow-faced Siskin

Carduelis yarrellii

Vulnerable. Venezuela specimens origined probably from cage-birds and therefore treated as an endemic in this report.

Caatinga, forest edge, second growth, plantations and even large urban centres, 0-550m. Only known sites are all in Alagoas: recent records from Pedra Talhada, Murici and Usina Laginha.

63. Sao Francisco Sparrow

Arremon franciscanus

Near-threatened. Species described in 1997 in Ch. Diamantina.

Thick scrub caatinga near forest. A good spot in Chapada Diamantina, where I saw 2 birds. Check for more sites.

In 2004 in Bahia I saw 19 endemics out of 63. In 2005 I recorded 8 more endemics.  

The Birding Sites






1. Linhares

Excellent forest.

13. Senhor do Bonfim

Dry forest specials.

2. Sooretama NP

Excellent forest.
Permit obligatory.

14. Canudos / Jeremoabo

Lear’s Macaw: ask owners’ permission. Caatinga specials

3. Monte Pascoal NP

Not very good forest. Permit&guide obligatory

15. Petrolina

Pygmy Nightjar, caatinga


4. Porto Seguro

Excellent forest.
Permit&guide obligatory

16. Lagoa Grande

Pygmy Nightjar, Brazilian Wagtail-Tyrant, caatinga sp.

5. Camaca

Pink-legged Graveteiro,
undescribed Treehunter

17. Araripe

Araripe Manakin: ask owner permission. Dry forest sp.

6. Una EcoParque

Excellent forest.
Permit&guide obligatory

18. Pedra Talhada

Most Alagoas specialties, plus Forbe’s Blackbird.

7. Boa Nova / Serra do Ouricana

Best birding of Brazil.
Ask owners’permission

19. Murici

Most Alagoas specialties.
4WD, permit & guide obligatory

8. Marau

No must, site for Bahia Antwren.

20. Jaqueira

All Alagoas specialties.
4WD and permission needed (private)

9. Santa Amaro


21. Saltinho

Pernambuco Pygmy-Owl. Access unknown, but private prop.

10. Esplanada

Fringe-backed Fire-eye.

22. Serra de Baturite

Caatinga and forest specials.

11. Chapada Diamantina

All hills/tablelands spec.

23. Cipo

Cipo Canestero, dry forest specials.

12. Morro do Chapeu

No must, site Visorbearer and Great Xenops.

24. Fernando do Noronha

Noronha Elaenia, Noronha Vireo, 10 species of  seabird nest on the islands.


I visited sites 4,6,7,11,14,18 &20.

1. Linhares

Lowland Atlantic Forest. 4 Days of birding for Linhares and Sooretama would be sufficient.

Birds: Red-billed Curassow, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike (split from Eastern Slaty-Shrike), Minute Hermit, Salvadori’s Antwren.

Access: Escort of a guide is obligatory.

Accommodation: Pre-booking is obligatory in this private reserve, also when there are no guests.

Further information (including maps) at John van der Woude’s website

Cherry-throated Tanager, though to be extinct, but refound in 1998 at Fazenda Pindobas IV in Esperitu Santo, near Sooretama. Currently still the only known site in the world.

2. Sooretama NP

Lowland Atlantic Forest.

Birds: same as Linhares plus Plumbeous Antshrike and Striated Softtail.

Access: An IBAMA-permit is obligatory.

Accommodation: take a hotel in Linhares (40 minutes or so away from the entrance of Linhares reserve); hotel Linhatur is chosen by many birders.

Further information (including maps) at John van der Woude’s website

3. Monte Pascoal NP

Pretty good Atlantic Forest, particularly good for raports. King Vulture is fairly common and Harpy Eagle is a possiblity. For other birds a visit is not a must if you go to either Porto Seguro or Una. At the visitor’s centre it is possible to scan the canopy at eye-level from the comfort of a chair.

Over 40% of the land is allocated as an Indian reservation and their presence is annoyingly clear. Also hunting and degradation of the forest continues. One or two days will be sufficient to cover the area.

Birds: Excellent site for Black-headed Berryeater (visitor’s centre), many raptors including White-necked Hawk (visitor’s centre) and Banded Cotinga (access road or the summit walk (one hour climb), also good for White-necked Hawk).

Directions: 14 kms off the BR101 highway. You can bird along the access road, the summit walk to the top of Monte Pascoal and around the visitor’s centre. The rest of the NP is not open for public.  

Accommodation: At Itamaruja (30km away).

4. Porto Seguro (Estacao Veracruz)

Excellent lowland Atlantic Forest. Two or three days of birding is recommended for this site.

Birds: Most reliable site in the world for Banded Cotinga and White-winged Cotinga. Also good spot for Black-headed Berryeater, Ochre-marked Parakeet, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Red-crowned Amazon, Hook-billed Hermit and many more Atlantic Forest specials.

Access & directions: Well signposted along the excellent road Eunapolis-Porto Seguro, 14 km west of Porto Seguro and 51 km east of Eunapolis. The Porto Seguro private reserve is named Estacao Veracruz. It’s open for visitors, but make arrangments before visting. Park your car at the parking along the access-road, a few kms off the main road. At the parking starts a track to the left and at the open area is the visitor’s centre, where also tracks start. I got kicked off the grounds at 8 o’clock because I didn’t arrange a guide before my unplanned visit and no guide was available at the time.

The neighbouring CEPLAC Parc Nacional do Pau Brasil hold the same habitat, but access is restricted and probably difficult to arrange.

Accommodation: 14km from the nice holiday resort Porto Seguro. Here are plenty hotels and pousada’s to stay, ranging from low-budget to 5star. At this oldest town of Brazil we started our holiday with shopping and relaxing on the beaches. 

5a. Camaca (graveteiro-site)

Excellent site for the recently discovered Pink-legged Graveteiro. A species normally difficult to find in cacoa-plantations and probably easier at this spot.

Birds: Pink-legged Graveteiro and Golden-capped Parakeet.

Directions: Information extracted from :

Just off the BR-101, south of Itabuna. For some good birding at the R.P.P.N. Serra Bonita, a private reserve, take the road to Jacarecí, passing the supermarkets Cesto do Povo and Super Sacolão (Km 0). Bear left after c.400m. After a speed bump and small shop (Km 10.2), turn left, opposite a bridge. A large sign has recently been installed. The track up to the telecomm. tower (Km 16.1) is rough and in wet weather slippery; it passes through good secondary growth. On 29 April 1999 four or five Pink-legged Graveteiro Acrobatornis fonsecai were building a nest practically at eye level in the trees by the access road to the research centre (Km 14.9 - 1.2km before the tower). We also saw Acrobatornis lower down and it can be seen in the cacau plantations along the Jacarecí road, but high up in the canopy. Golden-capped parakeet Aratinga auricapilla is fairly common in these plantations. In March 2004 we found Plumbeous Antvireo Dysithamnus plumbeus on the summit, just before the tower.

Accommodation: You can stay at the simple but clean Hotel Maracanã, near a square up the hill at the end of town.

5b. Camama (Serra das Lontras )

Birds: Pink-legged Graveteiro, Bahia Tyrannulet and an undescribed Treehunter.

Directions: Information extracted from (15 sept 05):

BirdLife has recently bought land in these hills, north of Camacã. The habitat is mainly "cabruca", plantations of cacau trees with tall forest trees left for shade, but there are forest remnants on the tops of the ridges. Pink-legged Graveteiro Acrobatornis fonsecai and Bahia Tyrannulet Phylloscartes beckeri are here, as is an undescribed Heliobletus Treehunter.

To get to the site take the BR-101 north from Camacã. After about 20 km you reach a road off to the left, signposted to Jussari. Opposite this road turn right onto a dirt road to Itatingui. At the end of the village of Itatingui take a rough track to the right to the fazenda de Doutora Katira. Keep asking for the 'fazenda de Dotoura Katira.’ Leave the car at the fazenda and walk up a steep trail, through cabruca and then, near the ridge, secondary growth.

We did not find particularly good habitat here and I have since learnt that the Fazenda Orion (1° 11'S 39° 23'W) and the Fazenda Elza (15° 12'S 39° 24'W) are better.

Accommodation: Simple accomodation at the Pousada Fazenda Liberdade about 1 km north of the turning to Itatingui.

6. Una EcoParque

Excellent lowland (swamp-) forest, but no must when you’ve birded Porto Seguro and/or Monte Pascoal well. Two days of birding is enough to cover the area.

Birds: many Atlantic Forest endemics are easily seen here, e.g. Golden-tailed Parrotlet (good spot for this one), Bahia Antwren, Pileated Antwren. If you’re lucky you’ll even see the highly endemic small monkey Bahia Lion Tamarin Leontopithecus chrysomelas,still present only near Una. If you’re extremely lucky you’ll see the Stresemann’s Bristlefront, as world’s last record of this species was near Una in 1995.

Directions & access: Ca. 50km east of the BR 101. Access is easy: go to the gate (even without appointment, for appointments call 032-73-6342179), where a 4WD truck and driver will take you to the park. A good track for birding is a trail which leads to an impressive canopy walkway. The guide was very good and whistled in some manakins at noon.

Next door is IBAMA’s Reserva Biological de Una. Nowadays access is virtually impossible as permits are not even granted via the HQ of IBAMA in Brasilia. If you can get in, 400m after the entrance is a spot for White-winged Potoo. Gladly, the access road is probably the best part of this forest, so a visit would certainlly be productive. The tamarins are seen here as well as White-winged Cotingas.  

Accomodation: At Una (few km) are some grimm hotels. I’ll definitely recommend the quiet touristic resort of at Canavieiras (54km away) with its lovely pousadas at the oceanbeach. If you insist staying closer to the EcoParque try to find nice Pousada Vila do Mar: ca. 12 km south of Una and a further 2.7km on the turn-off road to Hotel Transamaricas.

7a. Boa Nova dry forest

Boa Nova, with it’s dry and wet forest nearby, is probably the best birding site of Brazil. The unprotected area hold an amazing variety of rarely-seen endemics. One or two days would be sufficient to cover the dry forest. Map based on recent reports:

Birds: This small dry forest patch is world’s best site for Slender Antbird and Narrow-billed Antwren. Also present are White-browed Antpitta, Pileated Antwren, Hang-nest Tody-Tyrant, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Stripe-backed Antbird, Spotted Piculet, Grey-headed Spinetail (rare). The tracks to the forest are very small old cattle trails, except the broad trail by the gates.

Access: the city of Boa Nova is ca 150km inland and 16km off the BR116, well signposted. To avoid problems (in the future for other birders) it’s recommended to ask the landowner, living in the white house, to ask permission to enter his land. After birding, you can give a tip to the owner.

Accommodation: 3 simple hotels in town: ‘Ao Vivi’ is a recently build hotel at the main square (with very unfriendly staff), Hotel Solar and Hotel Central.

Sargeant & Wall made also a map in 1995. The map is probably outdated, but reproduced anyway as it can assist in your goal finding the specials:

7b. Boa Nova wet forest (Serra do Ouricana)

Spectaculair birding. I birded here only one morning and even at noon lifers were recorded all the time, including several antbirds. A 3-4 days visit is required to adequately cover the area.

Birds: Many specials at the best known birding trail: Broad-tipped Hermit, Striated Softtail, Spotted Piculet, Mantled Hawk, Rio de Janeiro Antbird, and also Ochre-breasted, Buff-fronted, White-collared & White-eyed Foliage-Gleaner, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Ochre-breasted Parakeet, Bahia Spintetail (rare), Bahia Tyrannulet, Pin-tailed Manakin, Oustalet’s Tyrannulet, Rufous-brown Solitaire, Swallow-tailed Cotinga and the list goes on and on.

I only birded this trail, 600-1000 metres from the main road. There is at least one other excellent birding trail, but directions are unclear as people give different descriptions of the site. Probably they refer to different trails into the forest.

At the marsh you can find Rufous-sided Crake, Blackish Rail and Black-capped Screech-Owl. Sargeant & Wall refer to a pond with marshy area 1.9km from the main road, at the left side of the driveable track, after a gate.

The trail 2.1km after the first birding trail is across the hillside on the left to a bamboo-rich forest patch. This is a good spot for Rio de Janeiro Antbird and a tapaculo, probably Mouse-collared Tapaculo but just maybe a yet undescribed species. Sargeant & Wall describe a trail 1.9km from the main road, beyond the gate, the pond/marsh and past a house, fence and plamtation. They had here an impressive list of recorded species in 3 days of birding, exploring different trails in the forest.

There is a lookout 3.4 km after the first birding trail, where Mantled Hawk is seen.

Of course the driveable track itself is worth exploring, Sargeant & Wall had here Striated Softtail, Ruby Topaz Hummingbird and Scale-throated Hermit.

Access: No permits or guides needed. I didn’t ask for permission and had no problem, but maybe it’s better first ask for permission at the house. The main dirtroad is excellent.

8. Marau

Birds: Good spot I you miss Bahia Antwren, Capped Seedeater and Black-faced Tanager on your list.

Directions: Information extracted from (15 sept 05):

Turn left off the BR 101 into the centre of Ubaitaba and drive back along the river bank, passing under the BR 101. The dirt federal BR 030 highway along the Maraú peninsular is dirt, very rough and in wet weather will require 4 x 4 drive. The c.60km to the beach at Saquaira takes almost 3 hours. An alternative is to drive to Itacaré (asphalt all the way), take the ferry across the Rio de Contas, and drive 34km (1 hr). Look for black-faced tanager Schistochlamys melanopis and capped seedeater Sporophila bouvreuil in bushes in the sandy grasslands on the long straight before Maraú. There is good restinga forest along the northern access road from the BR 030 to the town of Maraú, where in January 2001 there were several pairs of Bahia antwren Herpsilochmus pileatus. 14km north of Saquaíra, on the road to Campinho (carry straight on at the right turn to Barra Grande) there are tidal mud flats surrounded by mangroves. They begin to dry out one and a half hours before low water. In January 2001 there were eight species of shorebirds here. It appeared an ideal place to find little wood-rail Aramides mangle but I was unsuccessful.

Accommodation: At Saquaíra is fine accommodation at the Pousada Maraú in an idyllic setting on the beach.

9a. Santa Amaro

Birds: Fringe-backed Fire-eye.

Fringe-backed Fire-eye: take a tape with you. It also responds on tapes of other fire-eyes. One morning is probably enough to see the species. The map is extracted from the excellent report of Beadle, Bostock, Hornbuckle & Kirwan ‘Birding in Eastern Brazil, January-March 1995’:

Accommodation: At the pleasant colonial town of Cachoeira (31 km).

9b. Sao Francisco do Conde

Birds: Little Wood-Rail, Bicoloured Conebill, Rufous-winged Antshrike.

Directions: Information extracted from (15 sept 05):

This is (or was) a stakeout for little wood-rail Aramides mangle. Where the road from Candeias to São Francisco do Conde is joined by the road from Santo Amaro there is a bus shelter beside a rough track. Follow this track to where it ends in mangroves beside the river. This was a reliable place for the wood-rail but in recent years it appears to have been replaced by clapper rail Rallus longirostris which John Wall did not see but which was common in 2001. We did not see the wood-rail but did find some other interesting birds here, such as plain-bellied emerald Amazilia leucogaster, rufous-winged antshrike Thamnophilus torquatus and Cinereous-breasted spinetail Synallaxis hypospodia. Half way along the track turn right down to mud flats with waders.

One morning with low tide is sufficient to cover this site. Map extracted with permission from Sargeant & Wall’s 1995 report:

10. Esplanada

Birds: Fringe-backed Fire-eye.

Information extracted from (15 sept 05):

In November 2001 we found a new site for fringe-backed fire-eye Pyriglena atra, about 100km from the site near Estãncia, Sergipe. Look for a conspicuous telecommunications tower at Km 20 on the BR-101 (20 km south of the Bahia / Sergipe state border). The birds were in a forest remnant on the other side of the road. We found them there again in March 2004.

11. Chapada Diamantina

I experienced the effects of the heaviest rainfall in the caatinga area since 1960: the caatinga was green and leafy and the birds were harder to find than usual. This beautiful region, with highly diverse habitats, is described in detail, with a list of birds, in an article by Ricardo Parrini et al. in Cotinga 11. Together with the Noronha islands and Porto Seguro this is the only place in NE Brazil where it is excellent birding at/near a touristic site. A minimum of four days is required to cover the area.

Birds: undescribed antbird, possible new species of tapaculo, Hooded Visorbearer, Sao Francisco Sparrow, Bahia Spintetail, Great Xenops, Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant, Buff-throated Pampa-Finch, Grey-backed Tachuri, White-browed Guan, Broad-tipped Hermit, Golden-capped Parakeet, Red-shouldered Spinetail, White-naped Jay, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Spotted Piculet, Brown Violetear, ducks, waterbirds, hummingsbirds.

Directions: Information extracted from (15 sept 05):

Lençois : There are several good areas to bird near Lençois. One is the trail over the mountains to Capão which starts at the top of the town, opposite the hotel Portal Lençois. In the campo rupestre (dry montane scrub on rocks) look for the undescribed form of Formicivora antbird whose song is Example 2 for Formicivora rufa on Isler and Whitney’s Songs of the Antbirds. A little further up this trail there are two patches of humid gallery forest, locally called mata de grota, and in the second of these, in March 2004, I recorded a tapaculo with a slow song, probably a member of the Scytalopus speluncae / novacapitalis complex which is presently being studied by several ornithologists.

Another good area is the road to Remanso. Take the road out of town, zeroing the odometer at the petrol station. At 3.9km turn right off the main road. At the first fork you can bear left through secondary growth to Capitinga and the BR 242 (said to be good for Rufous Nightjar Caprimulgus rufus). Bearing right at this fork and left at the next takes you to a fazenda; keep up to the left, avoiding the buildings, and drive down to the lake along a track which leads to a pump house beside a clump of bamboos. This is a good place for marsh and water birds. [In 2001 acess to this lake was closed] Bearing right at the second fork puts you on the road to the village of Remanso (c.25km from Lençois). The road passes through some good forest, with tracks leading off it. When you get to a cross roads, about 3km from Remanso, turn left (the track straight ahead is barely driveable but good for birding). In the open areas before the village there is Little Nightjar Caprimulgus parvulus.About 1km after the village fork left (the right fork goes to a farm house). This track is very overgrown but leads to good forest beside the "marimbús" (the local name for the extensive wetlands all along this valley). The marimbús are well worth visiting by boat, which can be arranged in Remanso or through Lentour in Lençois.

At Km 2.5 on the road from Lençois to the BR 242 (9.2km from the petrol station) there is a track to the left called Toalhas. I have not birded this.

At the BR 242 turn left. There is a track to the right after c.200m which is birded by the Field Guides groups. Further on (1.7km from the junction) there is a dirt road to the right to Usina Velha. This goes down the hill through reasonable secondary growth and after 2.5km crosses the Rio Mucugezinho. This looks a good place for a picnic or swim.

Continuing west along the BR 242, 11.2km from the Lençois junction, the road crosses a bridge with a sign "Divisa Lençois / Palmeiras". 1.3km after this bridge (just after the Morro do Pai Inâcio first comes into view) there is a dirt track to the left, leading down to a house in some mango trees. This is the start of an excellent trail back to Lençois which takes about four hours. You can take the Seabra bus from Lençois to the start of the trail. At the start of this trail, in March 2004, we found an immature male of the undescribed form of Formicivora antbird mentioned above.

The Morro do Pai Inácio is a good place to see Hooded Visorbearer Augastes lumachella and Pale-throated Serra-Finch Embernagra longicauda. This is a much more convenient and dependable site than Morro do Chapéu for these two endemics. I am told the visorbearer can be found near the car park but I have had better luck at the plateau on the right, half way up the path to the top (the view from which is spectacular). In November 2001 we found several Band-winged Nightjars Caprimulgus longirostris on this plateau.

Palmeiras: 18km after the Pai Inácio turn left to Palmeiras. Drive through the town (54km from Lençois) and after 2.2km turn right to Tejuco and Lavrinha. Leave your car at the bridge and walk up the hill, at first through dry gallery forest and then through caatinga. All the caatinga species are here, including Broad-tipped Hermit Phaethornis gounellei, Red-shouldered Spinetail Gyalophylax hellmayri and San Francisco Sparrow Arremon franciscanus. Great Xenops Megaxenops parnaguae is common, but is not easy to see without playback.

Continuing along this road, which is rough but driveable, you pass by some spectacular mountains and then reach patches of cerrado habitat, called "gerais" locally. The best gerais we found were about 38km from Palmeiras, after Guiné. Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant Euscarthmus rufomarginatus is common here. After a further 37km you get to Mucugê.

Mucugê: The "campos rupestres" and cerrado on the road from Mucugê to Andaraí and along the two access roads to Igatu are worth visiting
Bonito: Humid forest at 1000m elevation. This site is about 132km from Lençois. Turn right from Lençois onto the BR 242 and after 34km turn left (at an electrical substation) onto the BA 142 to Wagner, Utinga, and Bonito. At Bonito take the road to Morro do Chapéu; 2.2km from the roundabout at the end of Bonito turn right onto a dirt road. After a further 5.8km there is a green gate on the left (Fazenda da Mata Doida). There is good birding both on the road and along the track into the forest on the other side of the gate.

Accommodation Lencois: Plenty hotels for every budget. An excellent place to stay is the pousada "Casa da Geléia" run by José Carlos and Lia ( ,tel/fax 075-334-1151,, in the road behind the petrol station, as you enter the town of Lencois. José Carlos speaks English, they have a big garden and have had 14 different species of hummingbird at their feeders, including, occasionally, the rare (in Brazil) Brown Violetear Colibri delphinae. Lia provides early breakfast on a tray or a sumptuous feast at 8:00 am. She will also cook dinner by prior arrangement. We stayed at the excellent and cheap Parque Hotel just outside of the northern site of Lencois, set in a beautiful natural setting giving a perfect holiday-feeling. 

Accommodation Palmeiras: A few cheap and basic hotels, but tourism is picking up here and new hotels will be built here soon.

12. Morro do Chapeu

Named after the hat-shaped hill just south of town. Not a must for birders as Chapada Diamantina is more reliable for the two specialties, but maybe a good stopover as travelling in north-east Brazil is time consuming.

Birds: Great Xenops, Hooded Visorbearer. Also Grey-backed Tachuri, Pale-throated Serra-Finch, Broad-tippes Hermit, Caatinga Antwren, White-naped Jay, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Spotted Piculet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Golden-capped Parakeet, Yellow-legged Tinamou, Tataupa Tinamou.

Directions: The visorbearer can be seen early morning at the top of the hill or even at the car park at the end of the road. The rest of the species are lower down along the road on the same Morro do Chapeau. Map extracted with permission from Sargeant & Wall’s 1995 report:

Great Xenops and Hooded Visorbearer are also present at the Cachoeira (waterfall) 18km east of town on the BA 052. Leave Morro de Chapeu eastward for 18km on the BA052 toward Feira de Santana and stop at the bridge across a wide, rocky river-bed. Although not visible from the bridge, the spectacular waterfall (given sufficient water) falls into a deep caynon 200 metres from the road, on the north side. The short walk to peer over the edge of the waterfall is highly recommended, though not for those with a fear of heights. Also present here are Cinnamon Tanager and White-vented Violetear.

Accommodation: the pleasant Palace Hotel in town.

13. Senhor do Bonfim

This area should be excellent, as it holds the same habitat as the dry forest of Boa Nova. Not many birders go here though since better birding sites are found.

Birds: Great Xenops (southeast of Serrinha), Pheasant Cuckoo, Pileated Antwren, Southern Pochard (BR 407 between Capim Grosso and Senhor do Bonfim), Scarlet-throated Tanager (rubbish dump near Filadelfia). Also Caatinga Black-Tyrant: a female seen by Flavio de Lima on 6 Jan 1997 on a "lajeiro", or rocky outcrop, in caatinga close to the village of São Tomé, municipality of Campo Formoso, Bahia. Campo Formoso is about 20 km southwest of Senhor do Bonfim, along the highway between Salvador and Juazeiro/Petrolina. Good caatinga cannot be found any closer to town than 41km north of Senhor do Bonfim: map extracted with permission from Sargeant & Wall’s 1995 report:

14. Canudos / Jeremoabo

A must on every itinerary, as it is the last site on earth where Lear’s Macaws still roam. Estimates vary between 180 (birdlife) and 350 (owner fazenda). This species, thought to be extinct, was finally re-discovered in 1978 by Sick. Visiting the sleeping grounds of the macaws is not recommended, you’ll need IBAMA-permit, IBAMA-guide and it involves a mini-expedition to get to the roosting site in the caynons.

The whole Canudis-Jeremoabo area is known as Rasa da Catarina. Forrester found good caatinga just east of Canudos, but nowadays this area is cultivated. A minimum of 2-3 days is required to cover the area.

Birds: Lear’s Macaw (an appointment is not nescessary, but give the landowner Ze Hilton a good tip!), Pectoral Antwren (a tape is useful, present at the greener woodlands and in nearby cactus vegetation). Also: caatinga specials present along the bad dirtroad (15-20km p/h on average) Jeremoabo-Canudos and at the dirtroad and adjenct trails south of Canudos: Caatinga Antshrike, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Little Nightjar, Scarlet-throated Tanager, Brazilian Wagtail-Tyrant, Blue-winged Macaws, Silvery-cheeked Antshrikes, Caatinga/Cactus Parakeet (common), Least Nighthawk, Broad-tipped Hermit, White-naped Jay (common), Red-legged Seriema, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, White-widged Piculet, Black-bellied Antwren, Stripe-backed Antwren, Ash-throated Casiornis, etc.

On the Fazenda’s near Jeremoabo, owned by Sr. Otávio, the owner of the São Lázaro petrol station in Jeremoabo, Arthur Grosset found Great Xenops and Pectoral Antwren in March 2004.

Accomodation: Basic Hotel Brazil at the western end of Canudos. At Jeremoabo there are several options. We stayed at the most ‘expensive’ hotel Sr do Bonfim near the main square: clean and pleasant. 

15. Petrolina

This is no must if you covered the caatinga well. One night and morning is sufficient to see the specials.

Birds: Little Nightjar, Least Nighthawk, Caatinga Cacholote. Also Red-shouldered Spinetail, White-bellied Tinamou, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, both Wagtail-Tyrants, White-throated Seedeater, Tropical Screech-Owl.

Directions: no precise directions are known to me. Birdtours stop here overnight in transit to Jeremoabo/Canudos.

16. Lagoa Grande

This spot, 58km northeast of Petrolina, is good for some recent splits. One night and morning is sufficient.

Birds: Pygmy Nightjar, Brazilian Wagtial-Tyrant, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Caatinga Cacholote, Pale-winged Cowbird, Velvety Black-Tyrant.

Directions: best spot for birds is the very degraded caatinga near Lagoa Grande.

17. Araripe

A must on every itinerary as it is the only known site for the recently discovered beautiful Araripe Manakin. Evergreen forest, dry forest and caatinga habitats near each other makes this an excellent birding site. Three days are required to cover the area.

Birds: Araripe Manakin. Probably best spot for Tawny Piculet, White-browed Guan and Great Xenops. Also: Red-shouldered Spineteail, White-browed Antpitta, Black-bellied Antwren, Ash-throated Casiornis, Ling-billed Wren, Grey-eyed Greenlet, Rufous Nightjar, Caatinga Antwren, White-naped Jay. 

Information extracted from (18 sept 05):

This is the mecca for the Araripe manakin Antilophia bokermanni. The type locality for the species, the Nascente do Farias near the town of Barbalha, has changed radically since I was there in 1998. It was then a simple swimming and picnic spot but is now being developed as a huge leisure complex, Arajara Park – a sort of tropical Wet ´n´ Wild. A new road from Barbalha to Crato has been built, giving access to the park. The manakins are in the trees along the two streams that flow from the spring at the foot of the hill and appear unperturbed by living on a building site. However, we found only female plumaged birds here. The owner of the Arajara Park, Dna. Fabiola, let us look for the manakins in the valley of the Nascente do Céu, behind her house, but there were only female plumaged birds there as well. Eventually we found a magnificent adult male further along the escarpment. The best plan is to make enquiries at the Arajara Park and get information and permission from the owners of the land you will have to cross to find the birds.

Above Barbalha there is good caatinga, where we had the usual species for this habitat, including red-shouldered spinetail Gyalophylax hellmayri. Take the road out of town up the hill, towards Jardim. 14,5 km from the turning to Caldas and the Hotel das Fontes there is an IBAMA protected area. Bird the side road to the right.

Above Crato there is dry forest, with White-browed Guan Penelope jacucaca, Rufous Nightjar Caprimulgus rufus, Tawny Piculet Picumnus fulvescens and Ash-throated Casiornis Casiornis fusca. Take the road up the hill and turn right, sign-posted to Nova Olinda. There is a track to the right after 1.8km. If you go straight on instead of turning right to Nova Olinda, you soon come to an IBAMA compound on the left. On the opposite side of the road there is a disused airfield. In the dry forest along the runway we found the guan and a number of caatinga species, such as white-browed antpitta Hylopezus ochroleucus, caatinga (formerly pileated) antwren Herpsilochmus sellowi (alongside black-capped antwren H. atricapillus) and Great Xenops Megaxenops parnaguae.

Accommodation: Right on the spot, in Arajara Park.

18. Pedra Talhada

Once this was the birding hotspot of Alagoas, but nowadays Murici is far more popular due to (even) better birding and better access. Organized tours in recent years go to Murici as this is the only  (accessible) site for the four Alagoas specials. Pedra Talhada is the only site for critical endangered Forbe’s Blackbird in the NE  and therefor the tours miss out on this Brazilian endemic. One morning should be enough for the Forbe’s Blackbird. I recommend at least 2 full days of birding as it is one the best birding sites of Brazil and one the very few places to see the Yellow-faces Siskin in the world. If you want to cover the whole area it will take 3-4 days.

Birds Pedra Talhada (see inlet map): Forbe’s Blackbird (at entrence of at the clearing), White-collared Hawk (rare), Yellow-faced Siskin (rare), Alagoas Tyrannulet (rare), Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner (not seen for years, probably extinct here), Orange-bellied Antwren, Alagoas Antwren, Pinto’s Spinetail, Seven-coloured Tanager, Scalloped Antbird, Long-tailed Woodnymph (common at forest edges), Jandaya Parakeet (Sun Parakeet split), Black-headed Berry-eater, Tawny Piculet, Mantled Hawk, Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant.

Birds marsh near Palmeira dos Indios: Russet-crowned Crake, South American Snipe, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Least Bittern.

Access: no problem. You can go unannounced and there is no fee to pay. A guide is probably wise, but don’t expect that a guide will speak English. In the past this reserve was guarded by military police and a military escort was obligatory.

Accomodation: Near the entrance lives a Swiss woman. She runs a place with orphan children and here you cabn stay. At the time of our visit nobody was around and we could not stay overnight and gladly local people were so kind to let us stay overnight in their house. It is probaly possible to stay at in the reserve (no campsite or any supplies: take a tent ans water/food with you).

19. Murici (see map at nr. 18)

Wonderful birding and the number one site of Alagoas and Pernambuco. Until recently this 6000ha of Atlantic Forest was the only spot for the four Alagoas specialties. In 2003 the four Alagoas endemics were also found also at Jaqueira in Pernambuco. Murici is a not to miss spot if you want to see  endemics, although the Alagoas Foliage-gleaner has not been seen here since aprox. 2002. A minimum of 4 days is required to see the specials.

Birds: Orange-bellied Antwren, Alagoas Tyrannulet, Alagoas Antwren and Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (in order of increasing difficulty). Also: Plain/Pinto’s Spinetail, Seven- colored Tanager, White-collared Kite, Long-tailed Woodnymph, the future split Alagoas (Plain-brown) Woodcreeper, the yet undescribed subspecies of Red-stained Woodpecker and many more (red data) species. Including the possible split Alagoas Purpletuft.

Access: permit required but forest is accessible without one, 4WD probably required. The site is 70 km northwest of Maceio.

Accommodation: The best but most expensive place to stay is the Quilombo Parque hotel in União dos Palmares. It is pleasantly situated with plenty of birds in the grounds, including Seven-colored tanager. It takes at least 50 minutes to get to the Murici reserve from the hotel.

Information extracted from (15 sept 05):

The road to the IBAMA reserve, near Fazenda Bananeiras, is very bad and you will need four-wheel drive if there has been any rain. Take a dirt road to the right off the BR-104 (signposted Fazenda Serra Nova), 700m north of the entrance to Murici. The way is complicated, with many tracks to the right and left. Keep to the "main" road. At a T junction with another "main" dirt road, turn left. Ask for Estreito and then Bananeiras. There is a small dam on the left at Bananeiras. The reserve is up the hill after the hamlet, forking left near the top. There is a chain (unlocked when we were there and no guard) at the entrance, 16.4km from the asphalt. The forest remnant along the left of the road before the reserve is good for Long-tailed Woodnymph Thalurania watertonii, Pinto's Spinetail Synallaxis infuscata and Smoky-fronted Tody-flycatcher Poecilotriccus fumifrons. Look inside the reserve for the local specialities: Scalloped Antbird Myrmeciza ruficauda, Orange-bellied Antwren Terenura sicki, Alagoas Tyrannulet Phylloscartes ceciliae, Alagoas Antwren Myrmotherula snowi and Alagoas foliage-gleaner Philydor novaesi (in order of increasing difficulty).

There is another bit of good forest, slightly lower, beside the telecom tower on the left of the BR-101, 16km north of the junction with the BR-104.

Nearby Fazenda Pedra Branca is deforested and no longer a site good for birding. Nearby Fazenda Bananeira is also an excellent birding spot. About 10kms north of the Murici junction on the BR 101 lies a very rough track, known as Usina Bititinga II, though perhaps only drivable during the dry months from October to February. This track leads west towards Murici, and after 10 kms one reaches the village of Bititinga. From here a really rough track leads 11 kms north, into excellent forest, though a tractor or horse are required for this second leg. The 4 specials are should be still present here.

20. Jaqueira

Birds: In 2003 all four critical endangered Murici-Alagoas specialties were found here: Orange-bellied Antwren, Alagoas Tyrannulet, Alagoas Antwren and the Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, who ws thought to be probably extinct (as the species was not seen of heard for more than a year at Murici)..

Access: 4WD and permission needed (see below).

Accomodation: Basic but clean accomodation in the reserve.

Information extracted from (15 Sept 05):

The R.P.P.N. Frei Caneca is a private reserve owned by a Brazilian who also owns the Usina Colônia sugar mill. On his land there is excellent montane forest. The four Murici specialities, Orange-bellied Antwren Terenura sicki, Alagoas Tyrannulet Phylloscartes ceciliae, Alagoas Antwren Myrmotherula snowi and Alagoas Foliage-gleaner Philydor novaesi, are all here. Other interesting birds are Scalloped Antbird Myrmeciza ruficauda and Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus mirandae.

To get permission to visit the reserve write to Prof. José Alves Siqueira at the Federal University of the Valley of the São Francisco (UNIVASF). To get there take the road from Palmares to Garanhuns. A few kms after Jaqueira there is an asphalt road to the right, signposted "Usina Colônia".

At the gatehouse ask for Zezito, Dango or Nice. If they are not there, get directions to the reserve or, better still, get a friendly motorcyclist to take you there. The reserve is 9 km from the Usina up a steep dirt road and you will need four-wheel drive, especially if there has been any rain. There is accomodation for visitors in a small basic house but you must take all your own food. The wife of the the reserve guard will do the cooking and her husband will accompany you into the forest.
The young professor Jose Alves Siqueira (who now lives at Petrolina) accompanied us when I visited this excellent reserve. A few years ago he  ‘discovered’ the forest, described several plantspecies new to science and he has convinced the owner to establish a reserve on his grounds. The land is formally protected, but still in great danger, e.g. because of deforestation as locals plant more bananatrees every year.

21. Saltinho

Birds: Pernambuco Pygmy-Owl. This critical endangered species was only described in December 2002 (Ararajuba 10(2)). It since has been frequently found by biologists in evergreen forest in Reserva Biological de Saltinho (4,8km2), which is not (yet?) visited by birdtours. There is also one record in Usina Trapiche, Sirinhaem. Also in the state of Pernambuco.

Access, directions & acommodation: unknown to me.

22. Serra de Baturite

Birds: Gould’s Toucanet, Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Ochraceous Piculet, probably split off Rufous Gnateater Conopophaga (lineata) cearae. Also: Moustached Woodcreeper (rare), Blond-crested Woodpecker, Grey-headed Spinetail, Planalto Slaty Antshrike. 2-3 Days is sufficient to cover the area.

Directions: 800m high hills south of Fortaleza. The lowlands are covered in dry thorn-scrub, but on the isolated hilltops dense evergreen forest can be found. In the private forest behind the Hotel Remanso all species can be found.

23. Serra do Intendente: Cipo

Birds: Cipo Canastero, Hyacinth Visorbearer.

Accommodation: Pousada Chão da Serra or pousada Veraneio at Cipo village.

All information (including maps) at John van der Woude’s website

24. Fernando do Noronha

Birds: Best surfing of Brazil, also 2 islands endemics: Noronha Elaenia & Noronha Vireo plus at least 10 breeding species of seabird.

Information extracted from (15 Sept 05):

This island, 400 km off the northeast coast of Brazil, boasts two endemics: Noronha Elaenia Elaenia ridleyana (considered by some a subspecies of Large Elaenia E. spectabilis) and Noronha Vireo Vireo gracilirostris. Both species are common. Ten species of seabird nest in the archipelago: Red-billed and White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus and P. lepturus, Masked, Red-footed and Brown Booby Sula dactylatra, S. sula and S. leucogaster, Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens, Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata, Brown and Black Noddy Anous stolidus and A. minutus and White Tern Gygis alba. All these except Red-billed Tropicbird are easy to see, though the main concentration of Masked Booby is on the Rasa and Sela Gineta islands and you will need a boat to see them at close range. Josivan Rabêlo da Silva (aka Bam), an IBAMA park guard, is very friendly and helpful and will take birders to the offshore nesting colonies which can be reached on foot at low tide.

The beaches and skin and scuba diving are superb. There are daily flights to the island from Recife. A tourist tax of R$23 (US$8) per day is charged. There is a wide choice of pousadas and bed and breakfast accomodation at fairly exorbitant prices. I paid R$240 per day for two rooms for three people in a B&B. The main island is about 17 km long and a beach buggy is convenient to get around. We hired one for R$80 per day. The only crime on the island is theft of petrol so take care!

Systematic list of birds 2004

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