Special birds of Vale das Taquaras

         Vale das Taquaras offers some of the very best birding in Brazil’s Rain forest with all the comfort one does not expect so far away from town. Situated at 1,000 metres above sea level, the Lodge is surrounded by excellent quality montane Atlantic Forest, which is home to a number of rare bird species that are only found at higher altitudes. In addition, the forest here also contains large stands of bamboo (taquara bambu), which supports a number of birds that are associated with it. So far we have found more than 320 species of birds in the region, 37 Brazilian and 80Atlantic Forest endemic have been seen here and more are being found all the time by our guides and visiting birdwatchers. Our well maintained trails provide easy access to the forest and if photography is your passion then our hummingbird feeders are second to none, with a constant stream of iridescent humming birds ( 17 species)just a few feet away! Listed below are some of the speciality birds found at Vale das Taquaras that birdwatchers often want to see:

Blue-bellied Parrot - Triclaria malachitacea

A rare species Brazilian and Atlantic Forest endemic. Blue-bellied Parrot is typically found in montane areas from 300 m to 1,000 m where they prefer tall wet forest. They have been recorded in the Vale das Taquaras grounds between February and August and are frequently seen around fruiting trees and occasionally in flight. Their distinctive call is the best way of locating them but they are always difficult to see.

Stygian Owl - Asio stygius

Stygian Owl is a widespread species found throughout Central and South America but are generally uncommon, especially in south-east Brazil, and can be a notoriously difficult species to find. They are most commonly found above 600 m where they inhabit forest and semi-open areas. In August 2009, Nick Athanas from Tropical Birding found and photographed a bird near the lodge while out night-birding. This record is only the second ever for Rio State - the first being back in 1985! Since the initial sighting, the bird has been seen fairly frequently, but so far in 2012, it was only seen once.

Long-trained Nightjar - Macropsalis forcipata

This beautiful and very distinctive nightjar is often seen on our night walks where they can sometimes be seen displaying. They are endemic to the Atlantic Forest where they favour forest edge and secondary growth and are often associated with montane areas up to 1,800 m. They are present all year round at Vale das Taquaras, although the best months appear to be August to October. Dry nights are best for sightings a little luck is required to see one.

Plovercrest - Stephanoxis lalandi

The Plovercrest is a striking hummingbird that is endemic to the Atlantic Forest, found in montane areas up to about 1,400 m. They are found in the understory, often at the forest edge, and are sometimes associated with streams. They and are not uncommon here, often visiting flowers bordering the nearby dirt roads. The birds in this area are of the nominate race S.I.Ialandi, which have a green crown and more extensive dark blue on the underparts. If you are lucky you might encounter a lek – a group of singing and displaying males hoping to attract a female.

Frilled Coquette - Lophornis magnificus

This tiny and beautiful hummingbird is endemic to Brazil where they inhabit forest edges up to 1,000 m. They are present at Vale das Taquaras from June to November when they are often present at our hummingbird feeders and on various flowering plants near the Lodge. Early morning and late afternoon is the best time to see them.

Amethyst Woodstar - Calliphlox amethystina

The tiny Amethyst Woodstar is widely distributed throughout South America. They prefer forest edge, clearings and scrubland up to 1,500 m, but tend to avoid forest interiors. If they are nesting nearby then they will come regularly to the feeders. Sightings can be erratic but we have recorded them in January, February, August, September and November.

White-bearded Antshrike - Biatas nigropectus

White-bearded Antshrike is a rare Atlantic Forest endemic found in forest between 500 m and 1,300 m. They are a scarce bird and generally difficult to catch up with. They are particularly fond of bamboo which we have plenty of in the forest here. White-bearded Antshrikes were discovered at Vale das Taquaras in 2008. They are difficult to see but with patience and knowledge of their call, you might be lucky enough to get a sighting.

Rufous Gnateater - Conopphaga lineate

This highland Atlantic Forest endemic is found in forest from around 400 m up to 2,400 m, but is much more common from above 1,000 m where they replace the Black-cheeked Gnateater of the lowlands. They are present in good numbers in the forest here and our Long Trail is a particularly good place to see them.

Bare-throated Bellbird - Procnias nudicollis

The Bellbird is the most common bird around our Lodge. In 2012 they were the noisiest and most prominent birds around, as was the Giant Antshrike (Batara cinerea). This Atlantic Forest endemic is a striking member of the Cotinga family, found in humid forest up to around 1,000 m. They are a common bird at Vale das Taquaras and in our spring and summer months the males can easily be seen perched at the tops of trees giving their loud ‘song’, which sounds rather like an anvil being struck!

Buffy-fronted Seedeater - Sporophila frontalis

A nomadic bamboo specialist, the rare Buffy-fronted Seedeater has a patchy distribution in the Atlantic Forest, where they are found in forest between 1,000 m and 1,500 m, almost exclusively in south-east Brazil (where Rio State is their stronghold), but with some records from extreme eastern Paraguay and north-east Argentina. Their population is declining as a result of hunting for the cage bird trade (its loud song makes it a popular cage bird in Brazil) and habitat destruction, and they are classified Vulnerable by BirdLife International. Usually a maximum of 1 or 2 are seen on our Long Trail, however, in 2008 all the bamboo seeded at once and an amazing 240 birds were present!

Temminck's Seedeater - Sporophila falcirostris

Temminck's Seedeater is a rare to uncommon Atlantic Forest endemic found in south-east Brazil, east Paraguay and north-east Argentina, however, they have a tiny range and so classified as Vulnerable by BirdLife International. Found up to 1,200 m above sea level, they inhabit the mid to upper storey of forest where stands of bamboo are present. They are nomadic birds – moving around in search of seeding bamboo - and are therefore much more common when bamboo is seeding. Our Long Trail is very reliable place to see them and there are usually single numbers present. However, in 2008 all the bamboo in Rio State seeded at the same time, attracting large numbers of seed-eating birds. During this time our highest count was 48 Temminck’s Seedeaters on the Long Trail!

Half-collared Sparrow - Arremon semitorquatus

Half-collared Sparrow has recently been split from the widespread Pectoral Sparrow Arremon taciturnus, forming a new Atlantic Forest and Brazilian endemic. They are usually found at higher altitudes. Here at Vale das Taquaras the Long Trail is a very good spot for them. They are very distinctive birds but are usually very retiring, hiding in dense cover, and so their call is the best way of finding them.

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