A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More 2022

September 16-October 1, 2022 with Marcelo Padua & Jay VanderGaast guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Daddy daycare—an alert male Greater Rhea keeps watch over his brood of youngsters. With an average clutch size of 26 eggs laid by seven different females, this family is a fair bit smaller than the norm! Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.

If any individual tour could possibly make up for the two wasted travel years that were 2020 and 2021, this tour just might be the one. A few days of topping the 180 species mark could almost make one forget those endless months of birding nothing beyond our local patches. Colorful parrots, toucans, and tanagers were a delicious change after a sustaining, but somewhat predictable, diet of chickadees, nuthatches, and sparrows (or whatever your local patch stalwarts are). In any given year, this tour would be like eating dinner at your favorite buffet restaurant; after the meat and potatoes local birding of the past 2 years, it felt like the best smorgasbord (smorgasbird?) in the world! And numerous wonderful encounters with some of the continent's most charismatic megafauna species were just icing on the cake (pardon the mixed metaphors).

The Pantanal is certainly a place that most birders dream about visiting, and I'm pretty sure our visit surpassed everyone's dreams and expectations, as we tallied an incredible number of amazing and beautiful birds. Iconic Hyacinth Macaws squawked and squabbled in the shade trees around Pousada Aguape while swarms of other birds gorged themselves at the feeders. Our short time at the lodge was highlighted by a pair of Black-banded Owls in the gallery forest at dusk, 10 species of woodpeckers, including the dapper Pale-crested Woodpecker, several local Blaze-winged Parakeets feeding at the camping area, a pair of Red-billed Scythebills chasing each other around a trailside tree, a couple of Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaners that seemingly forgot they were skulkers along the river, and mixed groups of Plush-crested and Purplish jays foraging in the lodge compound. Mammals were also good here, with a wonderful mother Giant Anteater with a pup clinging to her back and those cheeky Six-banded Armadillos in the dining room being particular favorites.

At Fazenda San Francisco, things ramped up a bit, as it was here where our daily totals exceeded 180 species, and all we did was sit in the safari trucks! This makes it a bit difficult to single out a handful of highlights, but birds like the Striped Owl on our second night safari, several striking White-naped Xenopsaris, an ethereal-looking White Monjita, gorgeous Yellow-browed Tyrants, and a brilliant Scarlet-headed Blackbird were among the many show-stoppers here. And being with Marcelo when he got a country tick (Golden-billed Saltator) was a real treat, too. But despite the plethora of birds, it was a mammal that really stole the spotlight, that being that stunning Jaguar that we spent an hour or so with on our first afternoon! The Ocelots that same night were not bad either!

The sweeping grasslands at Emas National Park were our next stop, and a parade of local specialties kicked off with one of the rarest species of the trip, Cone-billed Tanager, which went unseen for decades after their initial description until they were found here not even 20 years ago. Among the other rarities, a Lesser Nothura scrambled across the road ahead of the truck, a White-winged Nightjar sat tight as we walked right up to it for point-blank views, a sneaky Ocellated Crake wandered into a small opening for everyone to see, a pair of Yellow-faced Parrots (including a partially bald male) sat next to the road in glorious early morning light, a Campo Miner performed a fantastic flight display right next to the road, and a Bearded Tachuri delighted us as it perched in a nearby tree. Here, too, the mammals were incredible, with one late afternoon and evening outside the park producing a Brazilian Tapir, a Giant Anteater, a Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, and an awesome Maned Wolf, all in the space of a couple of hours!

The final leg of our trip saw us visiting two very different venues in the state of Minas Gerais. First up, the Serra do Cipo, where we made the acquaintance of some very local species, from the recently-discovered disjunct population of Long-tailed Cinclodes (perhaps a good species), the campo rupestre specialist Cipo Canastero, a couple of very local hummingbirds in Horned Sungem and Hyacinth Visorbearer, plus Gray-backed Tachuri, Firewood-gatherer, and the gorgeous Blue Finch, which we came pretty close to missing altogether! From there we moved to the lovely sanctuary at Caraca, where we got a taste of the many birds restricted to the Atlantic Forests of eastern Brazil. A spectacular Robust Woodpecker hitched up a tree trunk, Tawny-browed and Rusty-barred Owls called from roadside trees on a night excursion, Ferruginous and White-bibbed Antbirds played hide-and-seek in the dense vegetation along the Tanque Grande trail, and a White-breasted Tapaculo exhibited a remarkable behavior as it repeatedly placed its head into a hollow tree to call, amplifying its toad-like song! And no visit to Caraca would be complete without a nocturnal vigil for Maned Wolf on the terrace, where in addition to the amazing wolf view, we had a bonus Brazilian Tapir, our 5th sighting of the trip!

This truly was an incredible, awesome trip! From the first afternoon's outing in Campo Grande to the final day's tour around the stunning churches and steep streets of Ouro Preto (complete with a Stripe-breasted Starthroat!), I enjoyed every moment. That we got to do it all with such a super group of people made it all the more enjoyable. Thanks for joining Marcelo and me, and for making this such a fun trip to lead. We would both be thrilled to see you all on another trip in the future. The sooner the better!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Rheidae (Rheas)

GREATER RHEA (Rhea americana) [N]

According to our Ebird Trip Report, we recorded 152 of these massive birds, but the true number we saw was certainly much higher as there were plenty seen during the drives that weren't entered into Ebird. Included in this total were a number of adults with some fairly small chicks, and a male sitting on a nest below the road at San Francisco.

Their conservation status might be listed as Vulnerable, but the iconic Hyacinth Macaw was a constant presence around the Pousada Aguape. Video by participant Mark Chojnacki.
Tinamidae (Tinamous)

BROWN TINAMOU (Crypturellus obsoletus) [*]

Heard a few times at Caraca, but never close enough to play with.

UNDULATED TINAMOU (Crypturellus undulatus)

Aguape's local guide, Fabiano, had been baiting a lightly wooded area with corn meal to entice this bird into a good viewing area, and it worked like a charm, as we had excellent looks at one that eventually was emboldened enough to leave cover for a feast.

SMALL-BILLED TINAMOU (Crypturellus parvirostris)

Marcelo drew one across a dirt track at Emas NP and we all had excellent views as it ambled across the track in front of us.

RED-WINGED TINAMOU (Rhynchotus rufescens)

Relatively easy to see for a tinamou, and we saw several along the roadsides at Emas NP.

LESSER NOTHURA (Nothura minor) [E]

I don't recall what we had stopped to look for at Emas NP, but it wasn't this scarce species. But during this stop, one of these tried to sneak across the road ahead of us, but Mark had been keeping an eye on the road, and alerted us all in time for everyone to get a decent look! Nice work, Mark. Just after this event, we heard another calling nearby.

SPOTTED NOTHURA (Nothura maculosa)

Marcelo played the bird dog and ran into the scrub at Emas to flush one of these, which turned out to be the only one we saw on the trip.

Anhimidae (Screamers)

SOUTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna torquata)

These huge birds just don't seem like they should be capable of flight! We saw small numbers daily at San Francisco.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Overall, ducks weren't that numerous this trip, and most were seen only at San Francisco, where we only tallied 20-30 per day.

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)

These large ducks were present in the rice paddies at San Francisco in similar numbers to the whistling-ducks, and we also saw a couple around Emas NP.

BRAZILIAN TEAL (Amazonetta brasiliensis)

Small numbers daily in the Pantanal.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

CHACO CHACHALACA (Ortalis canicollis)

The "Pantanal alarm clock", these raucous birds were especially numerous and noisy around the lodge at Aguape--there's no sleeping in here!

DUSKY-LEGGED GUAN (Penelope obscura)

There was something brooding and intimidating about the mobs of these sullen-looking birds hanging about the courtyard of the Caraca sanctuary, but they're pretty habituated there and no doubt are there to stay!


I've just noticed that Ebird has now split this form out as a full species (White-throated Piping-Guan) and has changed all of our records, so Blue-throated won't appear in the Ebird Trip Report now. In any case, we saw a bunch of these daily in the Pantanal.

BARE-FACED CURASSOW (Crax fasciolata)

Most readily seen at Aguape, where they were coming into the feeders just outside the dining area, though we also saw a few wilder birds at San Francisco and Emas.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)

Mainly in towns and cities.

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

Widespread, with small numbers daily in the Pantanal, and a few birds at Emas and the Serra do Cipo area.

SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa)

Rather scarce in the areas we cover on this tour, but this lovely pigeon is pretty much unmistakeable, especially given the great looks we had as it perched overhead at the "cattle graveyard" stop en route to Emas NP.

PICAZURO PIGEON (Patagioenas picazuro)

The default large pigeon on this tour and one of the few species we recorded every day, often in large numbers.

PLUMBEOUS PIGEON (Patagioenas plumbea)

We heard and saw a few around the sanctuary at Caraca.


Comparatively scarce and easily overlooked in the swarms of other small doves in the Pantanal, but we managed to find at least a couple at San Francisco.

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

Quite numerous in the Pantanal with small numbers also around Emas NP.

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The extensive grasslands at Emas National Park hold a number of threatened or near threatened species, including the charming Bearded Tachuri. This bird was a surprise find when we strolled through the campo sujo to get a closer look at a Black-masked Finch. Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.

SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata)

Very similar to Inca Dove, this small dove was common in the Pantanal, with a couple also seen around Serra do Cipo.

PICUI GROUND DOVE (Columbina picui)

Small numbers of this attractive ground-dove were seen daily in the Pantanal.

LONG-TAILED GROUND DOVE (Uropelia campestris)

A pretty local and uncommon species, but Aguape is a good spot for them, and we finally caught up with a trio on our final afternoon there, getting awesome looks, blue eyes and all!

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

Quite common and seen daily in the Pantanal, with singles also at Emas and the Cipo area.

GRAY-FRONTED DOVE (Leptotila rufaxilla)

Just one pair seen on the track at the wooded side near Chapadao do Ceu

EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)

Though we saw none around Aguape, these doves were numerous elsewhere in the Pantanal and at Emas NP with some staggering numbers flying around at dusk at San Francisco.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GUIRA CUCKOO (Guira guira)

You don't generally think of cuckoos as being numerous, but these quirky, open-country cuckoos certainly were just that in the Pantanal. Our Ebird records tallied a whopping 169 of these, though again, there were more seen on the drives.

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

Seen daily in the Pantanal, though most numerous at San Francisco.

STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) [*]

A distant bird was heard calling as we birded the roadside near Fazenda Monjolos early one mornng.

LITTLE CUCKOO (Coccycua minuta)

Fantastic response and views of one that Marcelo coaxed into flying across the Rio Aquidauana during our boat trip at Aguape.

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

This widespread species was seen on several days, both in the Pantanal and in the Belo Horizonte region.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

NACUNDA NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles nacunda)

Wonderful looks at this big, distinctive nighthawk on a couple of evenings, with 10+ birds appearing at dusk at San Francisco, then about half a dozen in the marshes flanking Emas NP.

LEAST NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles pusillus)

We saw just a single one of these small nighthawks in the late afternoon along the Horned Sungem track in the Cipo region.

SHORT-TAILED NIGHTHAWK (NATTERERI) (Lurocalis semitorquatus nattereri)

Near the end of one of our night drives at San Francisco, Marcelo spotted some eyeshine in a tree below the road, and we could make out the shape of a nightjar, though we had no clue as to which one. Marcelo and I got down and walked up to it to have a closer look, eventually getting right below it without it flushing. We were stumped at first, partly because there appear to be no other Ebird records for this species in Mato Grosso do Sul! Marcelo took a bee sting to the face for his troubles, but I'm sure it was worth the subsequent days of swelling and discomfort, right Manakin?

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)

Mainly seen during the night safaris at San Francisco, though we also had singles at Aguape and Emas.

WHITE-WINGED NIGHTJAR (Eleothreptus candicans)

A scarce and local species, known only from a handful of sites, and Emas NP is one of the best places to look for these. We found a couple after dark in a suitable area of campo sujo, and got incredible looks after we walked up to a male and had point blank views as it sat motionless in the spotlight.

LITTLE NIGHTJAR (Setopagis parvula)

While looking for the above species, we came across another small nightjar perched on the road, and Linda managed to snap some pictures which we later used to confirm that it was this species.

SPOT-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Hydropsalis maculicaudus)

Amazing looks at a calling bird on the same night as the above two species, but in very different habitat within the park, this bird favoring much more damp areas. Incredibly, we were actually able to see the spots on the undertail due to its perfect positioning on its perch! We heard and glimpsed several more the following evening outside the park.

SCISSOR-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Hydropsalis torquata)

Fine close views of a long-tailed male sitting on the edge of the road during one of our night safaris at San Francisco.

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus)

Several during the night drives at San Francisco, including one fantastic one sitting on a post right next to the road. It never even budged when we eventually drove within a couple of feet of it to continue on our way!

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

All the large swifts we saw well enough to identify at Serra do Cipo were this common and widespread species. Unfortunately, viewing conditions at Caraca were not good enough to identify the large flocks of swifts that wheeled by overhead, or we may well have been able to add Biscutate Swift to our lists, too.

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You can’t get much closer to a Common Potoo than this! This bird was perched right next to the road, and remained there even as we drove past within just a yard or two of its perch. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.

SICK'S SWIFT (Chaetura meridionalis)

Most numerous at Emas NP, where there were way more than 6 :-) Elsewhere, we saw small numbers at Aguape and in Campo Grande on our first afternoon.

FORK-TAILED PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis squamata)

Closely tied to moriche palm trees (genus Mauritia) as these trees are their preferred breeding sites. We saw small numbers, mainly near the river, at Emas NP.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

BLACK JACOBIN (Florisuga fusca)

There was quite a frenzy of new hummingbirds at some flowering trees shortly after we entered the lower gate at Caraca, and this bird was one of them, though only one or two people actually got on it.

BUFF-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis subochraceus)

After missing this hermit several times over the first few days in the Pantanal, we finally connected with one on our final morning at San Francisco, then went on to get excellent looks at two more through the morning.

PLANALTO HERMIT (Phaethornis pretrei)

Larger and more brightly-colored than the above species, this hermit put in a few brief appearances, first at the cattle graveyard en route to Emas, then also several times at Caraca.

SCALE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis eurynome)

Decent looks at one of these Atlantic forest specialties along the Cascatinha Trail on our first morning at Caraca.

HYACINTH VISORBEARER (Augastes scutatus)

One of our main targets on our hike through the rugged, rocky habitat in the Serra do Cipo region, and thanks to Todd's sharp eyes, we nailed it, getting fantastic views of a stunning male as it perched in some trailside shrubbery. This local specialty is found only in the Serra do Espinhaco, and was hummingbird enthusiast Bill's most-wanted species on the trip, and both he and Linda picked it as their top bird of the tour.

WHITE-VENTED VIOLETEAR (Colibri serrirostris)

Seen both at Emas NP and the Serra do Cipo region, with the best views at Emas, where at least one bird showed brilliantly-colored ear coverts that appeared more red than violet!

HORNED SUNGEM (Heliactin bilophus)

At least one male and one or more females were seen at the Mae D'Agua Trail in the Cipo region. The female showed better than the male, but at least everyone came away with reasonable, if somewhat brief, looks at him, too.


A few birds at San Francisco, including spectacular close views of a male that came in to investigate our pygmy-owl imitations.

BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis)

A handful of these widespread hummers were seen nicely at San Francisco.

BRAZILIAN RUBY (Clytolaema rubricauda)

Super looks at a female perched calmly near the Cascatinha Trail at Caraca.

STRIPE-BREASTED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster squamosus)

Our final new bird of the trip, and who better to spot it than Bill, who was on high alert as this was the only target hummingbird species we had not yet seen. And we weren't even birding, officially, but in the middle of our city tour of Ouro Preto! A great finale to an awesome trip!

GLITTERING-BELLIED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon lucidus)

Quite widespread, and we saw these hummers in small numbers pretty much throughout the trip, from our first afternoon at Campo Grande to our final day at Caraca.

DIAMANTINA SABREWING (Campylopterus diamantinensis)

This species and the similar Outcrop Sabrewing are both recent splits from the widespread Amazonian species Gray-breasted Sabrewing. The bird suddenly appeared in front of us after we'd lured a Hangnest Tody-tyrant into the open, and was seemingly agitated by the tody-tyrant's presence. Not the flashiest of hummers, but finding one of these very local birds was an unexpected treat!

VIOLET-CAPPED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania glaucopis)

Commonly seen in the forests around Caraca.

FORK-TAILED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania furcata)

A few birds in gallery forest at Emas NP, and a couple on the grounds of Fazenda Monjolos. Most, if not all, were females, to my recollection.


Widespread, but only in small numbers, and we recorded single birds on 5 days with our first in Campo Grande on the initial afternoon, and our last in Ouro Preto on the final day of the trip.

SOMBRE HUMMINGBIRD (Eupetomena cirrochloris)

Hummingbirds don't get much drabber than this! We saw our only one of these along at a flowering tree along the entrance road to Caraca, shortly after entering the gate.

VERSICOLORED EMERALD (Chrysuronia versicolor)

A few of these were at Caraca and Ouro Preto.

WHITE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Leucochloris albicollis)

Fairly common and vocal at Caraca, where we had great looks at several on their song perches.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Though we always hope to see Brazilian Tapir on this tour, having five different sightings was pretty amazing! We found this one grazing near the river at Emas National Park early one morning. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.


Most of ours were seen in the Serra do Cipo region. Not an especially flashy hummingbird, but easily told by the white wedge extending up its belly from the vent to the throat.


A few of these colorful, blue-throated hummingbirds were found along the entrance road at Caraca.

GILDED HUMMINGBIRD (Hylocharis chrysura)

Fairly common and seen daily in the Pantanal.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

ASH-THROATED CRAKE (Mustelirallus albicollis)

These things practically threw themselves at us near Emas NP, as, after the slightest bit of playback, 2 birds popped out directly across the road from us, and a third came charging down the road from 100+ meters away! They were certainly the best looks I've ever had of this species!

BLACKISH RAIL (Pardirallus nigricans)

We had good looks at one in a roadside marsh as we came down from the Cipo Canastero site, then several more nice sightings of the resident pair around the pond at Caraca.

UNIFORM CRAKE (Amaurolimnas concolor) [*]

One was heard in the gallery forest at Emas NP, but refused to come anywhere near the boardwalk.

GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus)

Seen easily, and nearly daily in the Pantanal, with a couple seen at Emas NP as well.

SLATY-BREASTED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides saracura)

And these were easy to see at Caraca, where a pair spent the periods at dawn and dusk foraging in the courtyard/parking area.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

Just a single bird was seen swimming in a roadside canal at San Francisco.

OCELLATED CRAKE (Micropygia schomburgkii)

We heard a couple of pairs calling in the grasslands of Emas NP on our first morning in the park, but had limited success trying to see them, so we made a second attempt late the same afternoon. We really scored on that try, getting super looks at a bird that appeared in a small opening in the grass for a few seconds before disappearing again. This is a species I've long wanted to see, and was consequently my favorite bird of the tour.

RUFOUS-SIDED CRAKE (Laterallus melanophaius)

After striking out at a few sites, we finally located a pair in a reedy ditch at San Francisco, where we ended up with smashing views of them strolling across the flattened reeds.

Heliornithidae (Finfoots)

SUNGREBE (Heliornis fulica)

Not a spectacular view, but we flushed one from our side of the canal as we drove along on of the dikes at San Francisco, and saw it flapping weakly across the canal before vanishing up the opposite bank.

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

I don't think I've ever seen more Limpkins than we had at San Francisco, where they were numerous in a couple of areas of the fazenda.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (WHITE-BACKED) (Himantopus mexicanus melanurus)

A group pf 5-10 birds were seen daily in the rice paddies at San Francisco.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica) [b]

Some 10-15 birds were encountered regularly in San Francisco's rice fields, with several still showing fairly extensive black underparts. Away from the fazenda, our lone record was of a bird flying over and calling as we birded a roadside just outside the borders of Emas NP.

PIED LAPWING (Vanellus cayanus)

A pair at one of the few remaining waterholes at Aguape were the only ones for the trip.

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) [N]

These were a daily fixture right up to the day we flew to Minas Gerais, after which we only saw a pair or two along the roads near Belo Horizonte. Most memorable had to be the one on our first afternoon, screaming loudly at us while incubating its eggs in a trailside nest, just a couple of meters away.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana) [N]

A daily sighting in wetland areas of the Pantanal, especially numerous at San Francisco, including many recently fledged youngsters along the river during our cruise.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda) [b]

A single bird flew over giving its distinctive bubbling call in the rice paddies at San Francisco.

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus) [b]

Nice spotting by Todd to pick out a pair of these in the San Francisco rice paddies. It was probably the same pair that we saw in the same spot on the following day.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos) [b]

We tallied about 40-50 of these in the rice paddies, though there could very easily have been far more hiding in among the rice sprouts.

Streamer-tailed Tyrants are pretty awesome to see even when they’re not doing anything. But they’re even better when calling and displaying, and thanks to tour participant Mark Chojnacki, we can all enjoy them doing just that in this super video!

PARAGUAYAN SNIPE (Gallinago paraguaiae)

Formerly known as South American Snipe, it looks like this species is getting another new name and will now be known as Pantanal Snipe. We saw just a couple of birds on one day in the rice fields.

GIANT SNIPE (Gallinago undulata)

Reasonable views of a couple of these flying by in the spotlight near Emas NP. It's hard to get much better than this, as these birds tend to wait until dark to become active.

WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor) [b]

A single bird was amidst a flock on Pectoral Sandpipers one day. The next day we counted at least five of them.

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) [b]

A single was spotted next to a small pool of water at the foot of the Aguape driveway on our way out, and several more were seen at San Francisco.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

We picked out a couple of these from among the Lesser Yellowlegs at San Francisco.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Roughly 25-30 of these were present in San Francisco's rice paddies.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex)

A single bird was spotted flying over the river during our short boat cruise at San Francisco.

Ciconiidae (Storks)

MAGUARI STORK (Ciconia maguari)

Not uncommon at San Francisco, where we saw 30-40 daily. Elsewhere, our only record was of a flock of 20 or so that Linda spotted in a distant marshy area near Emas NP.

JABIRU (Jabiru mycteria)

Never numerous, but we did see these massive storks daily in the Pantanal, including some fantastic close views.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Seen in small numbers at San Francisco, with a lone individual during our boat trip at Aguape.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Really not very many of these were seen, with just one on the boat trip at Aguape, and a handful at San Francisco.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

RUFESCENT TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma lineatum)

The bold one at the boat launch area was by far the best of the dozen or so we saw at San Francisco.

COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)

Never numerous, but there were a few daily in the Pantanal.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Almost daily in the Pantanal, but surprisingly few overall.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Mainly at San Francisco, though as with the Great Egret, there were far fewer than I would have expected.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

By far the most numerous egret seen, particularly at San Francisco, where there was an impressive night roost along one of the roads.

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

Only seen at San Francisco, where there were up to 10 per day recorded.

WHISTLING HERON (Syrigma sibilatrix)

These lovely herons were seen every day until we flew to Minas Gerais, including an impressive 20+ of them on a night roost right over the walkway to our rooms at San Francisco.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Up to a dozen of these widespread herons were seen on each of our safari outings at San Francisco, including the night drives.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)

Never in big flocks like other ibis, but we saw a few of these each day in the Pantanal as well as along the river at Emas NP.

BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus)

Single birds a couple of times at Aguape, than much larger numbers at San Francisco, where it seemed the numbers were increasing daily, from about 50 birds our first day to 500+ our last.

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The bare face of a male Bare-faced Curassow is a pretty subtle mark to be named for, but it is clearly visible in this close up portrait, captured by guide Jay VanderGaast.

PLUMBEOUS IBIS (Theristicus caerulescens)

Apart from a couple of birds seen along the road into Aguape, all of our sightings were at San Francisco, where they were fairly common.

BUFF-NECKED IBIS (Theristicus caudatus)

These attractive ibis were numerous and conspicuous throughout the first half of the trip. They're also extremely loud, as we experienced with the birds roosting near the rooms at Aguape!

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Our only record came on our final morning at San Francisco, when we found four of these among the egrets and ibis in the rice paddies.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa)

A bathroom (and Magnum!) stop at Rancho de Pescador on our way to Aguape produced our only one of these, a gorgeous adult circling overhead with a bunch of Black Vultures.

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Common and seen daily, though once we left the Pantanal the numbers were much smaller.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

There were a couple of days that we didn't note these, but I suspect it was mostly that we just didn't pay attention to vultures after a while.

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

Told from the similar Turkey Vulture by the white shafts on the outer primaries, which form a conspicuous white patch on the ends of the upper wings. These also tend to fly lower over the ground, reminiscent of a harrier. We saw fair numbers throughout the Pantanal and at Emas.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

A perched pair on one of our excursions at Emas were the only ones of the trip.

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus)

We only had a few of these, with Joe somehow spotting our first at Aguape, very high overhead. More satisfying views came a bit later at Emas NP.

BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis)

Quite a few of these striking hawks were present at San Francisco, including the aptly-named Bella, a habituated bird that has become accustomed to handouts of fish along the river. As with Ospreys, these hawks have spiny-soled feet to aid them in grasping their slippery prey.

SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

These kites share a taste for apple snails with Limpkins, and they tended to be quite numerous in the same areas as the Limpkins at San Francisco. It was fun to see some of their regular feeding perches littered below with hundreds of snail shells! We also flushed a flock of 80+ birds from the roadside on the way in to Emas NP, almost certainly a migrant flock en route to their Amazonian breeding grounds.

PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea)

Small numbers daily in the Pantanal and at Emas, with a single one also at Caraca.

LONG-WINGED HARRIER (Circus buffoni)

Our only sighting was of a handsome male coursing over a fairly distant marsh just outside of Emas NP. Shortly after this, we encountered what was likely the same bird on the ground in a stubble field close to the road, allowing us excellent looks at this beauty.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (RUFOUS-THIGHED) (Accipiter striatus erythronemius)

The view wasn't good enough for us to see the rufous thighs, but in any case we had a quick look at one that buzzed by over the trail on our first morning at Caraca.

CRANE HAWK (BANDED) (Geranospiza caerulescens flexipes)

This bird's appearance was unfortunately timed, as we were trying to remain still and focused as an Ocellated Crake was seconds away from stepping into view. Still, we managed quick views before the crake rightly pulled our attention away. These birds are so different from the very black ones I'm used to seeing in Central America.

SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis)

Many sightings daily of this species in the Pantanal and Emas NP.

GREAT BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga)

Present in small numbers at both of our Pantanal venues, with the best looks coming during our boat trip at San Francisco, where they also have one of these "trained" to take handouts of fish.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

Seen most days throughout the tour. The race found here is saturatus, part of the "Southern" complex of subspecies, which look distinctively different from the "Northern" Roadside Hawks you may have seen in other regions.

HARRIS'S HAWK (BAY-WINGED) (Parabuteo unicinctus unicinctus)

Somehow I expected this to be a more common species here, but it isn't and we saw just one at San Francisco.

WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)

Though we had one at San Francisco, the bulk of our 20+ sightings came at Emas NP, where they are the default raptor. We also saw a single bird in the Serra do Cipo.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

A single dark morph individual soared overhead as we birded the entrance road to Cipo NP on our final morning in the area.

An owl’s eyes are fixed in their skulls, so head movements such as the ones made by this Striped Owl, are an important hunting technique for honing into the movements of potential prey items. Video by tour participant Mark Chojnacki.
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

BARN OWL (Tyto alba)

Incredibly easy to see at San Francisco, where there was a family of 6 noisy birds in a tall tree right behind our rooms each night, and another screeching pair next to the dining room each night. Not to mention the several we saw on our night safaris there!

Strigidae (Owls)

TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba)

This widespread screech-owl was seen by most everyone near the parking area at San Francisco. Todd, Renay, and I saw it on the way to dinner one night, the 9th owl of that short walk, the other 8 being Barn Owls!

TAWNY-BROWED OWL (Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana)

Mostly replaces the very similar Spectacled Owl in SE Brazil. We had a fantastic experience with these impressive birds at Caraca one night, getting amazing views of a calling pair perched over the road for stunning views!

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)

Well before dusk, we heard a pair of these calling from a large woodlot at San Francisco, and while it was still more than light enough to see, we spotted the two birds perched in the branches of a tall dead tree. Fairly distant, but the scopes brought them in for some excellent looks.

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)

We missed these on the travel days between Campo Grande and Emas NP, but otherwise we heard or saw these little guys every day of the trip.

BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)

Pretty common and conspicuous throughout the Pantanal and at Emas NP, and we also saw a couple in the Serra do Cipo. All told we probably saw 50+ of these owls, which is reassuring considering how poorly they've been doing in Canada in recent years.

BLACK-BANDED OWL (Ciccaba huhula)

The mosquitos were fierce at dusk in the gallery forest along the Rio Aquidauana, but the views we got of these handsome owls made the pints of blood we lost worth it in the end!

RUSTY-BARRED OWL (Strix hylophila)

Not long after our experience with the pair of Tawny-browed Owls, we had amazing success with a pair of these SE Brazil specialties, getting incredible looks at a pair calling from some roadside trees!

STRIPED OWL (Asio clamator)

It took us quite some time to track one of these gorgeous owls down on our second night safari at San Francisco, but once we found it (our only one) the views were spectacular! This was a much-wanted bird for Rick, and was his pick for bird of the trip.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

BLUE-CROWNED TROGON (Trogon curucui)

The only trogon species in the Pantanal, where we saw them in small numbers most days.

SURUCUA TROGON (Trogon surrucura)

We heard this species regularly at Caraca, and also managed a couple of nice sightings.

Momotidae (Motmots)

AMAZONIAN MOTMOT (Momotus momota)

These birds were a bit shy, but we eventually managed to spot a pair of them at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

A handful of these monster kingfishers were noted at our Pantanal venues, primarily at San Francisco.

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)

Also in small numbers at the Pantanal sites, with a single one also along the river as we birded the entrance road to Cipo NP.

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Just one or two each day in the Pantanal.

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

WHITE-EARED PUFFBIRD (Nystalus chacuru)

good scope views of these handsome puffbirds a couple of times at Emas NP, with others heard in the Serra do Cipo area.

SPOT-BACKED PUFFBIRD (CHACO) (Nystalus maculatus striatipectus)

Nice spotting by Joe to track down a calling bird in a scrubby area at Aguape. The bird may have been settling in for the evening, as it allowed us to walk quite close to it without even flinching. This is the southern form of this species, with the northern, Caatinga, form being more spotted below, rather than streaked in this form.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

BROWN JACAMAR (Brachygalba lugubris)

Marcelo seemed somewhat surprised when I called out this species at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu, which makes sense, as it was a first for this tour! We had fine views of a cozy group of 4 birds perched over the road.

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

Usually the only jacamar we see on this trip and we had several nice sightings, beginning with a pair picked out by Renay during our boat trip at Aguape.

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

CHESTNUT-EARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus castanotis)

A few of these small toucans were seen daily in the Pantanal, usually in fruiting trees.

TOCO TOUCAN (Ramphastos toco)

Though never what I would call numerous, these spectacular toucans were recorded every day of the trip, and overall we entered nearly 80 of them into Ebird, with plenty of others seen during drives.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Red-legged Seriemas are thought to the closest living relatives to the 10-foot tall “terror birds” that once roamed open landscapes of the Americas. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)

WHITE-BARRED PICULET (WHITE-BARRED) (Picumnus cirratus cirratus)

This is the piculet we saw in Minas Gerais, with single birds near Fazenda Monjolos and a couple of times at Caraca.

WHITE-WEDGED PICULET (Picumnus albosquamatus albosquamatus)

This form is the one that occurs in the Pantanal, where we saw a few each day, beginning our first afternoon in Campo Grande.

WHITE-WEDGED PICULET (Picumnus albosquamatus guttifer)

And this darker version is the one we saw in Emas NP, though I don't think we really noted the differences in the field.

WHITE WOODPECKER (Melanerpes candidus)

We had several nice encounters with these sociable woodpeckers across the Pantanal, including a trio seeing us off at the Campo Grande airport!

WHITE-FRONTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes cactorum)

Often associated with cactus, which is where I am used to seeing them from my Bolivia trips, but here we found a trio in the gallery forest at Aguape, where they seemed to be pretty unhappy about a troop of capuchin monkeys that were in the same tree.

LITTLE WOODPECKER (Dryobates passerinus)

Seen in ones or twos most days in the Pantanal, as well as at Emas, and once in the Cipo region.

YELLOW-EARED WOODPECKER (Dryobates maculifrons)

I think that Mark, Renay, and Todd were the only ones to see this woodpecker at Caraca before if flew off.

ROBUST WOODPECKER (Campephilus robustus)

We had some super views of a male of this impressive woodpecker at Caraca, both foraging and in flight, when the striking wing pattern showed beautifully.

CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)

We saw just a single one of these large woodpeckers at Aguape on our first afternoon's safari, one of an impressive 9 species of woodpeckers we tallied that day!

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

Best seen at Aguape, minutes before we saw the Crimson-crested Woodpecker. We also had singles of this widespread species at San Francisco and Emas NP.


We saw just 3 individuals of this stunning bird on three different days in the Pantanal. The first, well-spotted by Mark in the undergrowth next to the Aguape camping area, was perhaps our best.

GOLDEN-GREEN WOODPECKER (Piculus chrysochloros)

Four birds in total during our time in the Pantanal, with especially nice looks at our first along the road at Aguape on our first afternoon outing there.

GREEN-BARRED WOODPECKER (Colaptes melanochloros)

If this bird reminded you of a flicker, there's good reason for that, because it is one! We had some excellent views of this one, particularly at Aguape where one spent some time feeding on the ground in the middle of the lodge compound alongside the next species.

CAMPO FLICKER (Colaptes campestris)

A fairly common woodpecker of open regions, we saw these in moderate numbers throughout the trip (except at Caraca) but they were most numerous at Emas NP. These attractive birds were the favorite of Renay, who said that "flickers make me happy". You're not the only one, Renay!

Cariamidae (Seriemas)

RED-LEGGED SERIEMA (Cariama cristata)

Seen or heard almost everywhere, except at San Francisco, and they seemed especially plentiful or at least more conspicuous at Aguape. I was most surprised by the one that was running along the entrance road to Caraca on our way out of the area as I hadn't really expected it in that habitat. Also memorable was our first one in the park right in Campo Grande, a bird that Mark singled out as his favorite of the trip.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (SOUTHERN) (Caracara plancus plancus)

A daily bird, mostly in small to moderate numbers, but with some crazy totals at San Francisco where there were regularly 30-50 hanging around outside the dining room!

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)

Relatively few, with just a couple in the Pantanal, a handful in Emas and a single sighting at Caraca.

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

A few records sprinkled through the tour, mainly of heard only birds, though we had a couple of sightings at San Francisco and Emas NP.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

A pair were fixtures around the entrance to Emas NP, and one or two were seen during our drives.

APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis)

Aside from single records at both of the Pantanal venues, the remainder of our sightings came from the grasslands of Emas, where we had some fantastic close looks at these handsome birds.

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis)

Our only one was a distant perched bird spotted by Linda from the boardwalk trail at San Francisco.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Chaco form of the Spot-backed Puffbird could well be an armchair tick in the future as it differs significantly from its Caatinga counterpart. Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

MONK PARAKEET (Myiopsitta monachus) [N]

Not uncommon at Aguape and San Francisco, though more numerous at the latter site, with some huge nesting colonies present at both places.


A few were seen daily in the Pantanal, and we had pairs at both Emas and Cipo, but the biggest numbers were on our first afternoon in the park in Campo Grande, where there must have been a large roost of these small parakeets.

SCALY-HEADED PARROT (Pionus maximiliani)

Two distinct forms of this parrot are possible on this tour, and we saw them both. In the Pantanal the birds have a large and distinctive whit eye-ring, and we saw these especially well in fruiting trees right on the grounds of Aguape. In Minas Gerais we had a handful of the less striking form that lacks the white eye-ring.

YELLOW-FACED PARROT (Alipiopsitta xanthops)

These unusual parrots were seen at Emas NP, a stronghold for this near-threatened birds. Some males apparently lose the feathers on their forecrown, leaving it bald, and we saw this really well on the male of that initial pair we had perched close to the roadside.


Never abundant, but seen daily through the first half of the trip, with one sighting also of a pair along the entrance road to Cipo NP.

COBALT-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus xanthopterygius)

A fairly recent split (2021) from Blue-winged Parrotlet. A pair of these tiny parrots flew past during a roadside stop below the Cipo Canastero site.

BLAZE-WINGED PARAKEET (Pyrrhura devillei)

Quite a restricted range species, found primarily in Mato Grosso do Sul and adjacent areas in Paraguay (and probably eastern Bolivia). The campground at Aguape seems to be a pretty reliable spot for them and we had fabulous close views of 5 or 6 birds there.

HYACINTH MACAW (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) [N]

These spectacular macaws, the largest parrots in the world, were a regular sight at Aguape, where there were several pairs hanging around, and at least one nest box in use. We also saw a single pair each day at San Francisco.


Common and conspicuous, and recorded daily until we got to Caraca.

NANDAY PARAKEET (Aratinga nenday)

Fairly common and seen daily in the Pantanal.

YELLOW-COLLARED MACAW (Primolius auricollis)

Seen only at Aguape, where we saw a trio on each of three different outings, perhaps the same three birds each time? It took a bit of doing, but we finally did manage to track down one group after it had landed in a small patch of forest along the road.


According to the field guide, these colorful macaws are absent from the Pantanal, so there is some question as to whether the pair at Aguape occurred there naturally or not. But there was no question as to the status of these birds at Emas NP, where they were truly wild, naturally occurring, and in pretty good numbers. A few birds were also seen regularly flying over within the city of Campo Grande.

RED-SHOULDERED MACAW (Diopsittaca nobilis)

This smallest of all macaw species is about the same size as White-eyed Parakeet, and quite similar in plumage as well, though they differ in having bare facial skin, which parakeets lack. We had lots of flyovers in Campo Grande and Emas NP, with a pair also at Aguape. Our best look, though was probably the one we scoped right out in front of the hotel at Chapadao do Ceu.

WHITE-EYED PARAKEET (Psittacara leucophthalmus)

Aside from a few birds in the park in Campo Grande our first afternoon, these were seen mainly at Caraca, where a fairly large group of very noisy birds were fixtures in the palms (and sometimes on the rooftop) around the sanctuary.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

LARGE-TAILED ANTSHRIKE (Mackenziaena leachii)

Incredible close looks of a male of this Atlantic forest specialty on the trail below the sanctuary at Caraca. We were pretty lucky as we miss this species more often than not here.

TUFTED ANTSHRIKE (Mackenziaena severa)

Our first at Caraca gave most folks the slip, but a second male late that afternoon was a bit less elusive, and we managed to scope it as it perched in a dark hollow off the entrance road. The lighting wasn't particularly good, but it's a solidly black bird, so the main thing to see is the large crest, which we did.

GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major)

Seen or heard most days in the Pantanal, though only in ones and twos.

SILVERY-CHEEKED ANTSHRIKE (Sakesphorus cristatus)

We heard some antshrikes calling from roadside scrub not far from our Serra do Cipo hotel, but it didn't immediately click as to which species it was, due to the fact that these weren't really on our radar as we'd never recorded them on this tour before. When Marcelo eventually figured it out, we managed to draw out one pair for some super looks!

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

Pretty regular in small numbers throughout the Pantanal and at Emas.

RUFOUS-WINGED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus torquatus)

Despite the heat at our picnic lunch spot at Emas NP, we had excellent views of a female first, followed shortly after by her mate, as they responded to our pygmy-owl imitations. Our only other record was of a calling bird along the Horned Sungem trail at Cipo NP.

PLANALTO SLATY-ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus pelzelni)

One of our main targets during our drive to Emas NP, and while it took a couple of stops, we eventually located a cooperative male which showed well for all. Good thing, as it was the only one we recorded on the tour!

Field Guides Birding Tours
The spectacular Toco Toucan was one of just a handful of birds that we recorded every day of the tour. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.

VARIABLE ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus caerulescens)

Nice looks at a couple in a bamboo tangle on our final morning in the Cipo region, and another sighting near the soccer field at Caraca.

PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) [*]

A calling bird at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu remained stubbornly out of sight.

BLACK-CAPPED ANTWREN (Herpsilochmus atricapillus)

Good looks at a pair in the scrub next to the soccer field at Caraca.

LARGE-BILLED ANTWREN (Herpsilochmus longirostris)

First seen on our first afternoon in Campo Grande, where we had super looks at a distinctive, rusty-orange headed female. Subsequently seen in the gallery forest at Emas NP, where we also got to see a couple of males.

SERRA ANTWREN (Formicivora serrana)

A very restricted-range, SE Brazilian specialty. These handsome antbirds were common by voice at Caraca, but it took us until our 5th or 6th attempt before we finally found a pair that was at least partially responsive, though even that pair proved more difficult than usual.

RUSTY-BACKED ANTWREN (Formicivora rufa)

Fantastic looks at a pair at Aguape that joined a mob of other birds that were a little pissed off at our pygmy-owl imitations.

FERRUGINOUS ANTBIRD (Drymophila ferruginea)

A counter-singing pair in the understory of the forest along the Tanque Grande Trail at Caraca showed beautifully as they moved through the bamboo-choked habitat.

OCHRE-RUMPED ANTBIRD (Drymophila ochropyga)

Also seen along the Tanque Grande Trail, though we had this one on our first afternoon there, while the above species was seen on our second afternoon (when we also heard this antbird).

DUSKY-TAILED ANTBIRD (Drymophila malura)

Though not on the Tanque Grande Trail, this Drymophila antbird was seen a couple of times in similar habitat, also at Caraca. All three of these are Atlantic Forest specialties.

MATO GROSSO ANTBIRD (Cercomacra melanaria)

Not uncommon in riparian habitat in the Pantanal, and we managed a few good looks at these at both of our Pantanal venues.

WHITE-SHOULDERED FIRE-EYE (Pyriglena leucoptera)

Pretty vocal at Caraca, though our only sighting was a good one of a pair of birds in the dense bamboo stand right below the terrace early one morning.

WHITE-BIBBED ANTBIRD (Myrmoderus loricatus)

Another Tanque Grande bird, this gorgeous little antbird was seen pretty well by all when it walked across a small side trail above the main trail.

Melanopareiidae (Crescentchests)

COLLARED CRESCENTCHEST (Melanopareia torquata)

Mainly at Emas NP, where a calling bird in a nearby shrub showed beautifully on our first morning there. Also heard along the sungem trail at Cipo NP.

Conopophagidae (Gnateaters)

RUFOUS GNATEATER (Conopophaga lineata)

Pretty nice looks at an excited pair in scrub near the soccer field at Caraca.

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)

SPOTTED BAMBOOWREN (Psilorhamphus guttatus)

One of our final new birds of the trip, this one took a fair amount of effort, but eventually everyone got pretty decent looks at one of these odd, elusive tapaculos as we headed down the Caraca entrance road on our final morning.

WHITE-BREASTED TAPACULO (Eleoscytalopus indigoticus)

Our sighting of this species was one of the most fascinating of the trip. We heard a close, calling bird along the trail at Caraca, but just couldn't spot it in the undergrowth, initially. Finally I noticed some movement in a small hollow opening on a tree trunk a meter or so off the ground. Soon we were all watching as it repeatedly put its head into the hollow and called before backing out again to look around; it was using the hollow as sort of an amplifier to enhance the sound of its call!

ROCK TAPACULO (Scytalopus petrophilus)

It took several minutes, but we eventually got great looks at one of these right from the terrace at Caraca.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

CAMPO MINER (Geositta poeciloptera)

We looked in a lot of excellent habitat at Emas NP before we finally located a couple of these at a nest burrow in a recently burned grassland area. Once we found them, we were treated to an excellent show, with the male even performing a couple of flight displays right next to the safari truck.

OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus)

This species once again has been skipped over by the recent taxonomic revisions, though it's just a matter of time before it gets chopped up into several species (probably 5 or more!). We saw our first at Emas NP, then recorded them regularly at Caraca. I believe all of the birds belong to the Olivaceous subgroup, specifically subspecies sylviellus, though the Emas bird may actually belong to the nominate subspecies, which is part of the Amazonian subgroup, so perhaps we saw two (potentially) different species. Time will tell.

PLANALTO WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes platyrostris)

We had just two sightings of this large woodcreeper. The first turned up at dusk as we were waiting for it to get dark enough to try for Black-banded Owl at Aguape while the second was seen with a small mixed flock inside the gallery forest at Emas NP.

GREAT RUFOUS WOODCREEPER (Xiphocolaptes major)

Our only record of this hefty woodcreeper was also at dusk, and also at Aguape, though this one was seen along the entrance road to the campground.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The tiled rooves of the Caraca Sanctuary were regular perches for the resident pair of Velvety Black-Tyrants, such as the male seen in this photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.

RED-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris)

Seen well a couple of times in the Pantanal, with our first sighting coming as we walked back from the river at Aguape when we had a couple of birds squabbling and chasing each other around, giving us fantastic looks in the process.

NARROW-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes angustirostris)

Easily the most-often seen woodcreeper, with daily records in the Pantanal, as well as a single bird on the sungem trail at Cipo.

SCALED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes squamatus)

Heard fairly regularly at Caraca, where we also saw at least one bird along the Tanque Grande trail.

STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans)

A few birds at Caraca, with the first one showing nicely as it fed with a mixed flock along the lower section of the entrance road just after we entered the park gates.

PALE-LEGGED HORNERO (Furnarius leucopus)

Unlike the next species, which is virtually everywhere, this hornero is much more closely associated with water. We saw a couple of these along the river at Aguape, then had them regularly in small numbers along the numerous canals at San Francisco.

RUFOUS HORNERO (Furnarius rufus) [N]

A very common, widespread, and noisy species throughout most of the tour, though they were absent at Caraca this visit.

LONG-TAILED CINCLODES (CIPO) (Cinclodes pabsti espinhacensis)

This subspecies was first discovered and described about 10 years ago, and was proposed as a valid species based partly on the fact that this population was found roughly 1100 km north of any known populations of Long-tailed Cinclodes! It may still be elevated one day, but for now remains a subspecies. We had excellent looks at a pair of these foraging in a pasture in the Cerro do Cipo region.

BUFF-BROWED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla rufosuperciliata)

A pair of these were with a mixed flock along the Cascatinha trail at Caraca.

RUSSET-MANTLED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla dimidiata) [*]

Aka Planalto Foliage-gleaner. We heard this one in the gallery forest at Emas NP.

CHESTNUT-CAPPED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis rectirostris)

Formerly called Henna-capped Foliage-gleaner. These normally inconspicuous birds must have forgotten how to behave as the pair we found during our boat trip at Aguape were singing excitedly from wide open perched in tree falls along the river!

RUFOUS-FRONTED THORNBIRD (Phacellodomus rufifrons) [N]

While we saw plenty of their impressive stick nests, we only had a few sightings of the actual birds, with our first pair in the heat of the late morning along the side road near Miranda, then a couple more sightings in the Cipo region.

GREATER THORNBIRD (Phacellodomus ruber) [N]

Quite a few at San Francisco, with especially nice looks at one trying to force a rather large stick into the confined space of an old hornero nest. We also had great looks at one from the safari vehicle as it perched next to the bridge at Emas NP.

ORANGE-EYED THORNBIRD (Phacellodomus erythrophthalmus)

Our lone one was near the pond at Caraca, though we only just barely got it as it was very quiet, unresponsive, and wary, though we did manage to spot it on a partially visible perch within a tall tree next to the marsh.

FIREWOOD-GATHERER (Anumbius annumbi)

Named for their enormous stick nests, a pair of these distinctive ovenbirds showed beautifully in scrubby habitat in the Serra do Cipo.

CIPO CANASTERO (Asthenes luizae)

Canasteros are primarily an Andean group of birds, with this species something of an outlier with a very restricted range in the Serra do Espinhaco, where it was only discovered in 1985. We were fighting a pretty strong wind during our search for these, but we ultimately got some pretty nice looks at a couple in the rugged campo rupestre habitat they favor.

RUSTY-BACKED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca vulpina)

Quite similar to the more numerous Yellow-chinned Spinetail, and we only had a couple of pairs of this one, first at San Francisco, then at the edge of the gallery forest at Emas NP.

PALLID SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca pallida)

Two or three of these highly arboreal spinetails were regularly heard and seen around the sanctuary at Caraca.

RUFOUS CACHOLOTE (Pseudoseisura unirufa) [N]

Seen mainly at Aguape, where a boisterous pair had a nest right outside the reception building and were regularly seen singing loudly next to the nest. Also called Gray-crested Cacholote.

YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus)

Generally around water, and pretty conspicuous for a spinetail. We saw a couple at Aguape, but they were far more common at San Francisco, unsurprisingly, as there was a lot more water there.

CHOTOY SPINETAIL (Schoeniophylax phryganophilus)

A large, long-tailed, and distinctive spinetail, this species was seen well in the scrubby vegetation next to a capybara-filled waterhole at Aguape.

GRAY-BELLIED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis cinerascens)

Marcelo seemed to not be a fan of these birds, (I think the term "bird from hell" was thrown around a bit) as they are often extremely difficult to see. That wasn't really our experience this trip, as we had some reasonable looks at a couple of different individuals along the trails at Caraca, and we really didn't have to put that much effort in, either.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Tour participant Linda Nuttall snapped this wonderful portrait of one of the menacing mob of Dusky-legged Guans that were our constant companions at Caraca.

WHITE-LORED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albilora)

We had a few sightings at San Francisco and along the side road near Miranda, though I don't recall if any one of those provided a clean look for the entire group. Perhaps the pair that was part of an agitated mob along the boardwalk trail?

RUFOUS-CAPPED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis ruficapilla)

These handsome spinetails seemed fairly common at Caraca, at least we saw them regularly with mixed flocks inside the forest there.


We made a dedicated stop to search for this species on our way to Aguape, and it didn't take us long, as within 10 minutes we'd had super looks at a pair and were back on the bus and on our way.

SPIX'S SPINETAIL (Synallaxis spixi)

A pretty typical Synallaxis, this one was reasonably common at Caraca, and we saw the first of several along the entrance road on our way into the reserve.

PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens)

Nice looks at a couple on our first morning at Emas NP, then heard a bunch of times there afterward.

SOOTY-FRONTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis frontalis)

Great looks at a calling pair in scrubby woodland on the way to Chapadao do Ceu, at the same site as our lone Planalto Slaty-Antshrike. We also heard this species along the sungem trail at Cipo.

Pipridae (Manakins)


Pretty drab and plain, but with a distinctive voice. We heard and saw a couple of birds at the woodland site near Chapadao do Ceu.

SERRA DO MAR TYRANT-MANAKIN (Neopelma chrysolophum)

Equally nondescript to the above species, but much more local and replaces it in SE Brazil. We had decent views of one along the trail below the sanctuary at Caraca, though given its drab appearance, the sighting may not have been that memorable for most of you!

HELMETED MANAKIN (Antilophia galeata)

This striking bird is much more deserving of the name manakin! We had some smashing looks at several adult males, mainly at Emas NP, where it was readily seen in gallery forest, then again at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu. This one especially appealed to Joe, who singled it out as his top bird of the trip.

SWALLOW-TAILED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia caudata)

We saw a few at Caraca, but the best was our first one, not only as it was our only adult male (which is reason enough), but also that we got some excellent scope views as it sat out on an open branch in the subcanopy on our first walk along the Tanque Grande trail.

PIN-TAILED MANAKIN (Ilicura militaris)

Unfortunately we never did connect with an adult male of this fine manakin, though we did have several good looks at females and/or subadult males.

WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN (Manacus manacus) [*]

We heard the snapping of some displaying males below the entrance road on our way out from Caraca, but they were too far in to see.

Cotingidae (Cotingas)

CINNAMON-VENTED PIHA (Lipaugus lanioides) [*]

Another heard only bird, this one along the Tanque Grande trail, where, though it moved closer, and sounded like we should be able to see it, just never showed itself before moving back up the hill from the trail.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor)

Our lone tityra was a male of this species, seen as we were trying to track down the White-fronted Woodpeckers at the Aguape campground.

WHITE-NAPED XENOPSARIS (Xenopsaris albinucha)

This is a species I had long wanted to see, so I was pretty thrilled when I spotted one along one of the canals at San Francisco, and even more so when it sat out and gave everyone an incredible look. The second and third ones we saw later were just gravy.

GREEN-BACKED BECARD (Pachyramphus viridis)

Though Ebird shows us as having 4 records of this species, in reality it was just one bird, as all of our sightings were of that lone, vocal male that was hanging around near the pond at Caraca.

WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus) [*]

For everyone not named Marcelo, this was a heard only bird at the edge of the gallery forest at Emas NP.

CRESTED BECARD (Pachyramphus validus) [N]

A pit stop at a roadside restaurant on our way to Caraca gave us our only ones, a pair that were working on a large nest in a huge flowering tree above the parking lot.

Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)

WHISKERED FLYCATCHER (YELLOW-RUMPED) (Myiobius barbatus mastacalis)

One that turned up briefly next to the Tanque Grande trail eluded at least a few of us.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

WHITE-THROATED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus mystaceus)

A bit tricky to spot, but we all ended up with super looks at a vocalizing bird with a mixed flock in the gallery forest at Emas. Another was heard on the Tanque Grande trail at Caraca.

GRAY-HOODED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes rufiventris)

One sighting of a lone bird at the edge of the large parking lot at Caraca.

SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus)

One appeared with an agitated mob in response to our pygmy-owl imitations at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We came pretty darned close to dipping on the handsome Blue Finch at Cipo, but managed to spot this lovely male just minutes before leaving the area! Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.

MOTTLE-CHEEKED TYRANNULET (Phylloscartes ventralis)

A pretty common species at Caraca, with a pair in pretty much every mixed canopy flock.

SOUTHERN ANTPIPIT (Corythopis delalandi)

Tyrannidae is such a fascinating, diverse group of birds, occupying almost every possible niche within South America. This attractive little bird has a pretty unique niche and feeding habitat, as it forages by walking on the forest floor, searching for insects on the underside of the leaves, and fluttering up to grab them. We had these a couple of times, first at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu, but our better experience came along the entrance road to Caraca, where we had fantastic views of a close bird in roadside forest.


Formerly known as Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant. We had a couple of encounters with these easily overlooked birds along the trails at Caraca.

HANGNEST TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus nidipendulus)

A few sightings at Caraca starting off with that first one that seemed to be upsetting the Diamantina Sabrewing.

PEARLY-VENTED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer)

Not uncommon in scrubby areas of the Pantanal, where a pair would often turn up in response to our pygmy-owl imitations.

OCHRE-FACED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus plumbeiceps)

These cute little flycatchers were more often heard than seen at Caraca, but we did have a few nice sightings of these as well, often at fairly close range.

RUSTY-FRONTED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus latirostris)

A fairly inconspicuous little flycatcher of scrubby areas, this one was seen a number of times at San Francisco, where they could usually be drawn in with pygmy-owl calls.

GRAY-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum poliocephalum)

A pair or two of these were seen regularly around the sanctuary at Caraca.

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) [N]

Quite common at San Francisco, where we saw them in decent numbers daily, with a few also in suitable habitat at Emas.

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (MATO GROSSO) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens pallescens)

This species complex is due for some taxonomic revision, as there are probably several taxa that should be treated as good species, so keep track of the subspecies you've seen. This is the form we saw a couple of times in the Pantanal.

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (SOORETAMA) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens sulphurescens)

And this nominate subspecies is essentially restricted to SE Brazil. We saw a couple of birds at Caraca.

CLIFF FLYCATCHER (SWALLOW) (Hirundinea ferruginea bellicosa)

Seen most days in Minas Gerais, particularly at Caraca where a pair were fixtures on and around the sanctuary.


Small numbers throughout the tour, often showing up at the pygmy-owl mobs. Remember that the name refers to this species' lack of rictal bristles (not rectal!)


In the recent taxonomic revision (now completed) this species has been split into four species, with this one retaining the same scientific name but getting an updated common name: Southern Mouse-colored Tyrannulet. Our sightings were sprinkled throughout the tour, with a few birds recorded at pretty much every area visited.

BEARDED TACHURI (Polystictus pectoralis)

I'd tried and failed to find this scarce, near-threatened flycatcher several times in eastern Venezuela, so this was another species I was really excited to see. And what views! The bird flew in and perched very close on an open branch of a straggly tree, remaining there for an extended photo session. Sweet!

GRAY-BACKED TACHURI (Polystictus superciliaris)

A local and rather scarce Brazilian endemic. We found a single bird in shrubby habitat in the area we went searching for the cinclodes.

SHARP-TAILED TYRANT (Culicivora caudacuta)

A pair of these smart little tyrants showed beautifully in the tall grasslands at Emas NP on our first full day there, then again the following day. At least I'm presuming it was the same pair, as it was in the same area of the park.

FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii)

Singles in the gallery forest at Emas, and the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu.

GRAY ELAENIA (Myiopagis caniceps)

This elaenia has just been split into three species which separate out geographically. This one retains the same scientific name, but is now called Gray-headed Elaenia. We saw our only one during our first stop upon entering the gates at Caraca.

GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata)

This was the elaenia we saw on the way to Chapadao do Ceu which lacked any obvious wing bars. Our only other one was a lone bird at Aguape.

PLAIN-CRESTED ELAENIA (Elaenia cristata)

Introduction to elaenias was a pretty tough course this trip, and I feel I might need to take a remedial course on these! This one was pretty pointy-headed overall, and lacks white feathers under the crest feathers. We saw a few of these in the Serra do Cipo.

SMALL-HEADED ELAENIA (Elaenia sordida)

This elaenia was split off from Highland Elaenia not so long ago (the Pantanal field guide still calls it Highland). We saw these best at Caraca, though we also had singles at Cipo and Emas NP.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A small troop of Black-pencilled Marmosets bid us farewell along the Fazenda Monjolos entrance road as we were heading out for the final time. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

The most commonly encountered elaenia of the trip, we had these throughout, though they were recorded most often once we left Campo Grande behind. I was a bit surprised to note how inconspicuous the white crest feathers were on this form, as they are usually pretty obvious on the northern forms I'm more familiar with.

SMALL-BILLED ELAENIA (Elaenia parvirostris)

I'm not sure everyone saw this bird, as I think our only one was with a busy flock on the edge of the gallery forest at Emas, and there was a lot of other things to look at when Marcelo called it out.

LARGE ELAENIA (Elaenia spectabilis)

We first saw this one on our initial afternoon foray to the park in Campo Grande, getting close looks at a pair near the capybara herd. A few others were seen in the Pantanal.

LESSER ELAENIA (Elaenia chiriquensis)

And this one seemed to be the most common species (along with Yellow-bellied) at Emas.

WHITE-CRESTED TYRANNULET (Serpophaga subcristata)

This and the next species are extremely similar, and perhaps not safely told apart at times, but I have good news! The two species have been lumped, though they remain in separate groupings. This one is in the Sulphur-bellied group, and we had a couple with obvious yellowish bellies at San Francisco.


Our first Serpophaga (also at San Francisco) seemed to lack any yellow below and we called it this species, though of course it is now in the White-bellied group of White-crested Tyrannulet.

PLANALTO TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias fasciatus)

Commonly heard, and occasionally seen, in the forests at Caraca.

GRAY-CAPPED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias griseocapilla)

We had excellent looks at a pair of these alongside the large parking area at Caraca, and got to see one of the pair regurgitating a sticky mistletoe seed onto a branch.

RUFOUS-CROWNED PYGMY-TYRANT (Euscarthmus meloryphus) [*]

The three species in this genus have been given new names in the recent taxonomic revisions. All three are now known as scrub-tyrants, and this one has also had its color updated so it is now called Fulvous-crowned Scrub-Tyrant. We heard this species a couple of times but never saw one.

RUFOUS-SIDED PYGMY-TYRANT (Euscarthmus rufomarginatus)

Now called Rufous-sided Scrub-Tyrant, this species is quite local, near-threatened and somewhat hit or miss on the tour (we missed it on my previous trip), but there seemed to be quite a few of them at Emas this year, and we saw them easily several times there.

PLAIN TYRANNULET (Inezia inornata)

A few sightings of this one at San Francisco and near Miranda.

BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus)

This is another split from the recent revisions, though this widespread form retains the same common and scientific names, as two more local populations from west of the Andes have been split off (Mouse-gray and Rufescent flycatchers). We saw these in ones or twos at San Francisco, Emas, and Caraca.

EULER'S FLYCATCHER (Lathrotriccus euleri)

I found a pair of these along the Tanque Grande trail during a break and thankfully we were able to track down one of them for the group on our afternoon outing, as it was one of the highlights of the trip! Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit; this one is pretty dull and drab, and probably didn't even crack anyone's top 400 species.

TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus)

Tropical Pewee is another species to get chopped up, also into three species: Tumbes Pewee of western Peru and Ecuador, Northern Tropical Pewee of Mexico to NE Brazil, and this one, now called Southern Tropical Pewee, with the same scientific name. We had excellent looks at one feeding very low at the edge of the soccer field at Caraca.

FUSCOUS FLYCATCHER (Cnemotriccus fuscatus)

Heard at Aguape, and then a tailless one was seen foraging over the start of the boardwalk trail at San Francisco.

CHAPADA FLYCATCHER (Guyramemua affine)

Our only pair was found just as we were leaving our picnic lunch spot at Emas, and we were treated to a wonderful duet accompanied by their raised-wing display. Once treated as conspecific with Suiriri Flycatcher, though now these two species are quite widely separated within the Tyrannidae family, and this one is in its own monotypic genus.

SOUTHERN SCRUB-FLYCATCHER (Sublegatus modestus) [*]

A heard only (maybe also a Marcelo only) species from San Francisco.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Not numerous but we saw singles or pairs on several days in the Pantanal and at Emas NP.

CRESTED BLACK-TYRANT (Knipolegus lophotes)

Seen only on our day birding around the Serra do Cipo, though we had some lovely looks at about half a dozen of these Phainopepla-like flycatchers.

VELVETY BLACK-TYRANT (Knipolegus nigerrimus)

Smaller and with a less obvious crest than the above species, a pair or two of these were seen regularly at Caraca, where they were often perched on the rooftop. We also had at least one during our city tour in Ouro Preto.

YELLOW-BROWED TYRANT (Satrapa icterophrys)

A few of these attractive and distinctive tyrants were picked up at very locations around San Francisco.

Field Guides Birding Tours
In the grasslands of Emas NP, tall termite mounds are perfect perches for surveying the surroundings. By the looks of things, this wasn’t the first time this Burrowing Owl perched on this one! Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.


A few in the Pantanal and the Serra do Cipo, but these monjitas were most numerous at Emas NP, often sitting up on exposed perches.

WHITE MONJITA (Xolmis irupero)

Not especially common on this tour route, and often missed, but we spotted a single bird perched on a fence as we departed San Francisco for Campo Grande. Folks in the back of the van struggled a bit to see it, but eventually we all had a good look at this gorgeous bird.

GRAY MONJITA (Nengetus cinereus)

One or two birds were seen most days in the Pantanal, at Emas, and in the Cipo region, including a pair that were regulars on the power pole guide wires along Aguape's entrance road.

WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala)

Our first at Aguape, an unmistakeable male, looked out of place given it was super dry and there was no obvious marshy area or damp depression anywhere in sight! Another at San Francisco looked more like it belonged there!

BLACK-BACKED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola albiventer)

These were very common and easy to see along the canals at San Francisco.

MASKED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola nengeta)

What was certainly the same bird every time was seen regularly around the pond at Caraca, where Marcelo managed to get it to perform a charming display and song one afternoon.

SHEAR-TAILED GRAY TYRANT (Muscipipra vetula)

This can be a difficult bird to track down at Caraca, but we got lucky with a pair in scrubby habitat along the Cascatinha Trail. Though we got good views, these birds didn't stick around for long, and we never saw another.

STREAMER-TAILED TYRANT (Gubernetes yetapa)

Small numbers of this unmistakeable flycatcher were seen daily around the Emas NP area. a couple of pairs of these birds interacted, calling loudly and performing their raised-wing display several times for us as we birded along the edge of the gallery forest. Todd was especially charmed, and singled this species out as his star of the trip.

COCK-TAILED TYRANT (Alectrurus tricolor)

This unique tyrant requires areas of tall grasslands to breed, and they are classed as vulnerable due to the widespread destruction of this kind of habitat. They were relatively common in some areas of Emas NP, where we had numerous super looks including a few males doing their weird display flights during which they barely resemble birds!

LONG-TAILED TYRANT (Colonia colonus)

Daily at Caraca, where a pair were usually hanging around near the courtyard. We also had a pair in the green space beside our lunch restaurant in the center of Ouro Preto.

SIBILANT SIRYSTES (Sirystes sibilator)

One was heard calling, and eventually tracked down, during our boat excursion at San Francisco, another seen along Caraca's Tanque Grande trail.

RUFOUS CASIORNIS (Casiornis rufus)

Mainly on the first half of the tour, where we had a few individuals at Aguape and a couple during stops en route to Chapadao do Ceu. Once we left Campo Grande we had just one more sighting, along the roadside where we found the Silvery-cheeked Antshrikes near Cipo.

SWAINSON'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus swainsoni)

The Myiarchus flycatchers can be difficult to separate, and their calls can certainly help. We found our first of these at Aguape, where they did call to aid in identifying them, but they were most regular at Caraca, where they were the only species we encountered.


Small numbers daily in the Pantanal, as well as the Cipo region, though we probably undercounted these, as we didn't pay as much attention to the Myiarchus once we'd tallied all 3 species.

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)

Easily told from the other two by the extensive rufous in these birds' wings and tail. All of our sightings of this species came in the Pantanal.

CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa)

This common species was seen daily except for the Serra do Cipo region, though there was also just a single bird hanging around the sanctuary at Caraca.

LESSER KISKADEE (Pitangus lictor)

Much less common then its larger, more familiar relative, and more tied to water. We saw a single bird during the San Francisco boat trip.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Widespread and conspicuous, this familiar bird was a daily sight, except for one day at Emas, when we surprisingly missed it.

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

Always less numerous than the similar kiskadee, though not uncommon. Most of our sightings came from Caraca, though we had a couple of records in the Pantanal and at Emas.

RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

A few daily in the Pantanal, then a regular pair at the Caraca pond.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

Oddly scarce on this tour route, and our only one was at our pit stop on the way to Caraca.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We were fortunate to get some great looks at the bizarre little Cock-tailed Tyrant, both perched, as in this photo by guide Jay VanderGaast, and in their unique display flight, when they barely resemble birds at all!

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

All our sightings were of single birds, mainly in the Pantanal, with a lone bird in Emas and another in the park in Campo Grande.

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius)

Very similar to the next species, but smaller, and lacks rufous on the rump. We had just one bird at San Francisco.

VARIEGATED FLYCATCHER (Empidonomus varius)

Only marginally more numerous than the above species, with about half a dozen birds sprinkled through the tour, at San Francisco, Emas, Sipo and Caraca.

WHITE-THROATED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus albogularis)

Very similar to the more familiar TK, but this species is readily discernible by its paler gray head which contrasts more strongly with the dark mask, its clearer yellow breast, and of course, the white throat. We had a few good sightings on the Minas Gerais half of the tour, at least once alongside a TK for comparison.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Missed one day at Emas, but perhaps we just weren't trying?


Up until we got to Caraca, we saw anywhere from one to 30+ of these beauties daily.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)


Widespread, and recorded more days than not, though of our 16 records in Ebird, all but 2 or 3 of those were heard only.

ASHY-HEADED GREENLET (Hylophilus pectoralis) [*]

We heard these one morning at San Francisco, but never managed to lay eyes on them.

CHIVI VIREO (RESIDENT) (Vireo chivi agilis)

I was a bit surprised how of these there were. We only had 4 total--singles along the river at San Francisco and at a roadside stop en route to Chapadao do Ceu, and a couple of birds along the Cipo NP entrance road the day we left that area.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

PURPLISH JAY (Cyanocorax cyanomelas)

The duller of the two jays in the Pantanal, where we saw them daily, and regularly alongside the fancier Plush-crested Jays.

CURL-CRESTED JAY (Cyanocorax cristatellus)

These fancy jays with their jaunty crests were mainly recorded at Emas, where there was a regular mob of them around the entrance buildings. Outside of Emas, our only record was of a pair flying high overhead along the Horned Sungem trail at Cipo.

PLUSH-CRESTED JAY (Cyanocorax chrysops)

Daily in the Pantanal, roughly in equal numbers to the Purplish Jays.

Donacobiidae (Donacobius)

BLACK-CAPPED DONACOBIUS (Donacobius atricapilla)

Ridiculously common and easy to see along the canals at San Francisco.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)

After we got to Minas Gerais, this species became the most commonly seen swallow, with fair numbers especially around Caraca.

TAWNY-HEADED SWALLOW (Alopochelidon fucata)

A rather rare and local species, this attractive swallow was seen a bunch of times on a single day at Emas.

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

A common species which was seen more regularly and at more sites than any other swallow, though never in especially large numbers.

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

Both martins were primarily seen in the Pantanal (a few of each in Emas) with this one outnumbering the next species by a small margin.


A bit like a Bank Swallow on steroids. A few of these were recorded daily in the Pantanal.

WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer) [N]

This lovely swallow is closely tied to water, rarely seen far from a river or lake. We had a few at each of the Pantanal venues, and a couple along the river at Emas. Best views were the ones that had a nest on the boat at San Francisco, and followed us along during the cruise.

WHITE-RUMPED SWALLOW (Tachycineta leucorrhoa)

Most numerous at Emas NP, where we had the bulk of our sightings, though we also had a pair the first afternoon at Campo Grande.

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) [b]

About half a dozen were circling around in front of the scenic viewpoint where we had our picnic lunch at Emas NP, perhaps the vanguard for the thousands that would soon be arriving from their northern breeding areas.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Brazil’s national bird, the Rufous-bellied Thrush, was encountered pretty much everywhere on the trip. Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

MASKED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila dumicola)

Pairs were often among the first birds to show up at the pygmy-owl mobs in the Pantanal and Emas.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

There were only a few days on which we failed to record this familiar bird.

GRASS WREN (Cistothorus platensis)

Fairly recently split from Sedge Wren, and a candidate for further splitting in the future. The lone bird we saw at Emas is part of the Pampas group, where the subspecies that occurs is polyglottus.

THRUSH-LIKE WREN (Campylorhynchus turdinus unicolor)

These large arboreal wrens were pretty vocal and seen regularly throughout the Pantanal. Compared to the birds from Amazonia, this aptly-named subspecies is relatively poorly marked and perhaps a bit less thrush-like as a result.

FAWN-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus guarayanus)

A small number of these were recorded most days in the Pantanal, where they seem to replace the very similar and more widespread Buff-breasted Wren.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


Except for at Caraca, these were present in small numbers throughout the tour.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas)

Though we had one or two birds at Aguape, all of our other sightings were in Minas Gerais, where we saw a few daily.

YELLOW-LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus flavipes)

A female along the trail below the Caraca sanctuary was missed by at least a couple of us (me included!).

RUFOUS-BELLIED THRUSH (Turdus rufiventris)

Brazil's national bird, and the most widely seen thrush, with at least a few birds daily everywhere but at Emas.

CREAMY-BELLIED THRUSH (Turdus amaurochalinus)

Few overall, with just a couple at the park in Campo Grande, and a few each at San Francisco and Caraca. This species habitually quivers its tail in a unique manner after it lands, making it pretty recognizable even at a glance.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Widespread and recorded most days.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

YELLOWISH PIPIT (Anthus lutescens)

We saw about a dozen of these during our full day at Aguape, then only encountered them in ones and twos subsequently at San Francisco and Emas.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia cyanea) [*]

Calling from a hidden perch in the canopy at Caraca.

PURPLE-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia chlorotica)

I believe our only group sightings were in the Cipo region on the day we left for Caraca, though we did hear this species at a couple of other places.

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

Range maps in the Pantanal field guide don't show either of the "yellow-throated" euphonia species as reaching the Chapadao do Ceu region, though there are a few Ebird records for the area of both this and Violaceous, so evidently there is need for an update. Our only sighting was of a subadult male at the forest site outside of town.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

GRASSLAND SPARROW (Ammodramus humeralis)

Closely related to our Grasshopper Sparrow, this is a common species of dry, grassy habitats. There was certainly no shortage of these at Emas NP, where I suspect my Ebird tallies were far short of the actual numbers we came across. We also saw a few in the Pantanal, mainly at Aguape, and rounded out our sightings with a couple at the sungem trail at Cipo.

SAFFRON-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon flavirostris)

We didn't see many of these lovely sparrows, but we had some fine views of them, particularly our first ones seen from the safari truck at San Francisco

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

We only encountered this familiar bird once we left Campo Grande behind, but when we arrived in Minas Gerais, they became a daily companion to us.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

WHITE-BROWED MEADOWLARK (Leistes superciliaris)

The three species in this genus were all previously known as blackbirds, but the name was changed to reflect their close alignment with the Sturnella meadowlarks. We had a handful of these beauties both at San Francisco and at a marshy area outside of Emas NP.

CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)

The only oropendola in the areas we visited, and we saw them in small numbers daily in the Pantanal and at Caraca, though nowhere in between. The ones at Caraca were in the process of building nests in the palms adjacent to the sanctuary.

SOLITARY BLACK CACIQUE (Cacicus solitarius)

A few of these skulky caciques were encountered as we drove along the canals at San Francisco, though I don't think we ever had a really satisfying view as most were seen in flight between dense tangles of vegetation.

This female Giant Anteater and her piggybacking pup were a highlight of our first afternoon in the Pantanal. Video by tour participant Mark Chojnacki.

GOLDEN-WINGED CACIQUE (Cacicus chrysopterus)

One of our target species on our final morning at San Francisco, and we nailed it early, getting great looks at a pair near the river, then another lone bird later that morning. Much smaller and more delicate than the other caciques, this species appears very oriole-like in the field.

RED-RUMPED CACIQUE (Cacicus haemorrhous)

A single bird flew over the river during our boat trip at San Francisco, nicely showing its bright red rump to Todd and me, who were the only ones to get on the bird before it disappeared behind the trees.

VARIABLE ORIOLE (Icterus pyrrhopterus)

The nominate subspecies is the form found across the Pantanal, where we saw it regularly at San Francisco. This is one of the chestnut-shouldered forms, though the dark chestnut shoulder patch could sometimes be tough to discern, making these often appear solidly black in the field.

ORANGE-BACKED TROUPIAL (Icterus croconotus strictifrons)

We picked up a handful of these large, gaudy orioles at the two Pantanal venues, mainly perched on high, conspicuous perches along the rivers.

SCREAMING COWBIRD (Molothrus rufoaxillaris)

Just a single one of these snub-nosed cowbirds turned up at the feeders at Aguape on a couple of occasions, where it stood out from the numerous Shiny Cowbirds by virtue of its stout, stubby bill.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

Recorded daily, often in large enough numbers in the Pantanal that I only marked them with an "X" in Ebird. Once we got to Minas Gerais, we saw far fewer.

GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

Small numbers of these bulky cowbirds were noted daily in the Pantanal, with a lone female investigating the oropendola nests at Caraca.

SCARLET-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Amblyramphus holosericeus)

It kind of looked like we were going to miss this spectacular blackbird until Marcelo pulled one out of his hat (well, a roadside marsh, actually) on our final morning at San Francisco. With the smashing close views we ended up with, one was certainly all we needed!

CHOPI BLACKBIRD (Gnorimopsar chopi)

Our Ebird records don't reflect the reality of how many we saw, as I often just marked these with an "X" since we weren't paying a whole lot of attention to the large flocks of blackbirds/cowbirds we saw daily in the Pantanal. These birds were probably best seen at the entrance to Emas, where a small group of them seemed to always be hanging around.

GRAYISH BAYWING (Agelaioides badius)

Seen daily in the Pantanal, with many good studies of these at the Aguape feeders.

UNICOLORED BLACKBIRD (Agelasticus cyanopus)

There were only a few of these noted at San Francisco, where they tended to stay low in the floating vegetation on the canals. While the male is definitely unicolored (ie black), the female is actually quite striking, and luckily we had good looks of at least a couple.

CHESTNUT-CAPPED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus ruficapillus)

This was one of the very first species we picked up on our initial safari drive at San Francisco, as we spotted a trio perched along the road as we stopped to open a gate. We had a couple more sightings before we left the fazenda, but that was all for the trip.

YELLOW-RUMPED MARSHBIRD (Pseudoleistes guirahuro)

Most of our records came from around Emas NP, where there were some moderate-sized flocks in the marshy surrounds, but our first pair came during a roadside bathroom/Magnum bar stop on our way to Chapadao do Ceu.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

MASKED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis aequinoctialis)

This is the final species on the list altered by the recent taxonomic updates, as Masked Yellowthroat is now split into 3 species. This common and scientific name is now restricted to the yellowthroats in northern South America south to northern Brazil, while the birds we saw a few times sprinkled throughout the tour are now known as Southern Yellowthroat (G. velata). The 3rd species is Black-lored Yellowthroat (G. auricularis) and is restricted to the Pacific slope of Peru and Ecuador.

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi)

This common and widespread Neotropical warbler was neither common or widespread on this tour, and we saw just three individuals at San Francisco, and heard a singing bird at Emas.

GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (WHITE-BELLIED) (Basileuterus culicivorus hypoleucus)

Though this is presented as a separate species in the Pantanal field guide, this form is generally treated as a subspecies of Golden-crowned Warbler, at least for now. Our first sightings were at the forest site near Chapadao de Ceu, but we encountered these most regularly in Minas Gerais, mainly at Caraca, but also on the grounds at Fazenda Monjolos. In addition to the white belly differentiating this subspecies from the other three groupings, which all have yellow underparts, to my ear there were also some obvious vocal distinctions, so we might yet see some more changes to this one's taxonomy.

WHITE-STRIPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis leucophrys)

We ran into these a couple of times at Emas, first at the Cone-billed Tanager site, then along the gallery forest trail. Though these birds were overall pretty elusive, I think everyone eventually came away with fairly decent looks.

FLAVESCENT WARBLER (Myiothlypis flaveola)

Heard more often than seen, and in fact, most of us probably saw just one bird, that being the first one that showed very well along the canal at San Francisco.

WHITE-BROWED WARBLER (Myiothlypis leucoblephara)

Called White-rimmed Warbler in the Pantanal guide. Like the others in this genus, these birds were pretty tough to get good views of, but after a couple of attempts, we wound up with incredible views of one along Caraca's Tanque Grande trail.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

HEPATIC TANAGER (LOWLAND) (Piranga flava saira)

This is a species just waiting to be split into at least three species, possibly more (in fact, they are already treated as separate species by some, xeno-canto as an example). When that split comes, the lone pair we saw along the trail below the sanctuary at Caraca are part of the Lowland grouping. But note that I have switched subspecies, as the nominate one, which was on our checklists, does not appear to occur in Brazil at all.

ULTRAMARINE GROSBEAK (Cyanoloxia brissonii) [*]

A singing bird at Caraca remained frustratingly out of view.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Caraca Sanctuary is famous for its habituated Maned Wolves, which come to the terrace for handouts of meat scraps and fruit on many nights. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

RED-CRESTED CARDINAL (Paroaria coronata)

Seen daily in the Pantanal, though mainly in ones and twos mixed in with the swarms of Yellow-billed Cardinals.

YELLOW-BILLED CARDINAL (Paroaria capitata)

Numerous throughout the Pantanal region, where they outnumbered the preceding species by at least a factor of 10. Once we left the Pantanal, that was it for cardinals.

CINNAMON TANAGER (Schistochlamys ruficapillus)

Nice looks at a pair along the canastero trail at Cipo, then a couple of times at Caraca.

WHITE-BANDED TANAGER (Neothraupis fasciata)

The color pattern on this species makes it look distinctly shrike-like. We saw a few of these on our jaunts through Emas NP.

CONE-BILLED TANAGER (Conothraupis mesoleuca)

Though first described from a single male specimen in 1938, this bird went undetected for the next 65 years, leading some to speculate that it was either just an aberrant plumage of another species, or that it had gone extinct. Then in 2003, it was rediscovered in gallery forest in Emas NP, and has since also been found in one other region north of Cuiaba. Getting the chance to see this scarce, poorly-known bird was one of the most exciting moments of the trip, and thanks to local guide and radio host Jota, we all had excellent looks at a couple of pairs in a remote, little-visited part of Emas.

HOODED TANAGER (Nemosia pileata)

Recorded on just two days, with one pair in a roadside pygmy-owl mob near Miranda, then several sightings on our full day birding the Serra do Cipo region.

BLACK-CAPPED WARBLING FINCH (Microspingus melanoleucus)

A very local species in Brazil, restricted to the southwest corner between Campo Grande and the Bolivian/Paraguayan borders, and one of our main targets on our pre-lunch foray near Miranda. We only found one, but we had fine views, so that was enough.

GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata)

Bill and I saw one briefly on the Fazenda Monjolos grounds as we were searching for the marmosets, though I'll admit I wasn't 100% certain of the ID as the bird looked significantly different from the ones I know well in Costa Rica. When we saw a pair later that morning just up the road, it became clear it was the same species we had seen.

RUBY-CROWNED TANAGER (Tachyphonus coronatus)

While we saw these birds a few times at Caraca, I'm pretty sure no-one saw the ruby crown, which is generally pretty well concealed.

WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus)

A pair that turned up to dine on cornmeal at the tinamou feeding spot at Aguape were the only ones of the trip.

SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo)

Regular in riparian areas at both of the Pantanal venues.

SAYACA TANAGER (Thraupis sayaca)

A common bird throughout, and one of a handful we saw every day.


After some discussion, it became clear that a bird Linda and Mark saw at Caraca while waiting for the rest of the group to show up was this species.

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

A few birds were recorded at pretty much every site visited.


A few birds almost daily in Minas Gerais, with a couple of records also in the Pantanal and at Emas.

BRASSY-BREASTED TANAGER (Tangara desmaresti)

This snazzy-looking Atlantic Forest specialty was seen a couple of times on the same day at Caraca. Both times it was just a single bird with a mixed canopy flock, and it could have well been the same bird both times.

GILT-EDGED TANAGER (Tangara cyanoventris)

Another gorgeous Atlantic Forest Tangara, this one was a bit more numerous at Caraca, where we had fine views of several small parties.

SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis)

A widespread and pretty unique tanager, this one was most often seen at Caraca, though we had our first pair on that initial outing in Campo Grande.

BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana)

After a couple of sightings around the Chapadao do Ceu region, we went on to see dacnises daily in Minas Gerais.


Not a common species on the tour route, and we saw just 3, a male at the "cattle graveyard" stop on the way to Chapadao do Ceu, and a pair at the forested site just outside of the town.

GUIRA TANAGER (Hemithraupis guira)

Linda found us our only one of the trip, a handsome male at one of our roadside stops en route to Chapadao do Ceu.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The rather grotesque beauty of a Jabiru is on full display in this close up by guide Jay VanderGaast

RUFOUS-HEADED TANAGER (Hemithraupis ruficapilla)

Quite similar to the Guira Tanager, but this one is an Atlantic Forest specialty. We had about half a dozen of these on our various outings around Caraca.

CHESTNUT-VENTED CONEBILL (Conirostrum speciosum)

A small number of birds were seen in the Pantanal, with Mark picking out our first at Aguape.

BLUE FINCH (Rhopospina caerulescens)

This beautiful cerrado species was silent during our visit and it almost gave us the slip until Todd spotted a brilliant male stealthily moving through the low shrubs along the Horned Sungem trail at Cipo, as we were about to leave the area!

WHITE-RUMPED TANAGER (Cypsnagra hirundinacea)

As usual we saw this unusual tanager only at Emas, where we had some excellent views of a handful of them.

SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola)

These lemony birds were a familiar sight throughout the trip, and we recorded them daily. The ones at Caraca were interesting, as they appeared quite different from the ones we saw elsewhere, with rich coloring including a very orange crown, and dark lores.

GRASSLAND YELLOW-FINCH (GRASSLAND) (Sicalis luteola luteiventris)

A lone male visited a puddle of water along the campo rupestre trail in the Cipo region, giving us ample time to study it and eliminate the similar Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch from contention, as both species are known to occur here. A large flock of yellow-finches in the marshy areas outside of Emas NP may well have been this species, too, though they were too far off to identify.

WEDGE-TAILED GRASS-FINCH (Emberizoides herbicola)

We saw our first few at Aguape, but they were most numerous at Emas, where we had many nice views.

LESSER GRASS-FINCH (Emberizoides ypiranganus)

Similar to the more common Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, this rather local species prefers damper grassy areas. We found a pair of these in the marshy areas outside of Emas NP, not long after having seen a couple of Wedgies, giving us a chance to note the subtle plumage differences that differentiate them.

PALE-THROATED PAMPA-FINCH (Embernagra longicauda)

A few birds were seen in the shrubby clearings at Caraca.

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)

Quite numerous in the Pantanal and at Emas, with most, if not all, males in some sort of blotchy, transitional plumage. A few birds were also noted in the Cipo region.

WHITE-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila leucoptera)

One of the more commonly seen seedeaters at San Francisco.

TAWNY-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila hypoxantha)

We spotted a rusty-bellied seedeater mixed in with a flock of more common seed-things at San Francisco, but it managed to slip out of sight before we could figure out which one it was. The bird then proceeded to slip in and out of view for several long minutes before we finally nailed it in the scope for long enough to see that it was this migrant species. Hard to say how many there were, but we had at least one fine male and a female or two.

DARK-THROATED SEEDEATER (Sporophila ruficollis)

A trio of drab, female-plumaged seedeaters at Aguape probably would have remained unidentified without Marcelo to sort them out for us.

CHESTNUT-BELLIED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila angolensis)

Our lone sighting was of an unmistakeable male in a scrubby area adjacent to the Formosa River at Emas NP.

YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis)

Bill and I found a couple of birds on the Fazenda Monjolos grounds while trying to track down the marmosets. These proved to be the only ones for the tour.

DOUBLE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila caerulescens)

A few birds each at San Francisco and Fazenda Monjolos.

PLUMBEOUS SEEDEATER (Sporophila plumbea)

Quite common at Emas, where they were the most numerous seedeater we found.

RUSTY-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila collaris)

These striking seedeaters were probably the most numerous Sporophila we encountered, with the majority of our sightings coming at San Francisco.

BLACK-MASKED FINCH (Coryphaspiza melanotis)

Just a few birds at Emas, with the first giving us some nice scope views, and leading us to find the Bearded Tachuri as we angled for a good view of this bird.

PILEATED FINCH (Coryphospingus pileatus)

A few folks missed the first one along the Horned Sungem trail, but luckily we tracked down a much more cooperative pair at our final stop before leaving the Cipo area.

RED-CRESTED FINCH (Coryphospingus cucullatus)

Just a handful of these pretty finches were recorded in the Pantanal, with most of ours coming on a single outing at Aguape.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Group birding in action at Caraca. Photo by participant Linda Nuttall.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

Though we tallied our first pair at the park in Campo Grande, we only saw a single other Bananaquit until we got to Minas Gerais and began to tally them daily.

BLACK-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltatricula atricollis)

Quite common and conspicuous at Emas, with a few birds also in the Cipo region.


We rarely seem to see this widespread Neotropical bird on this tour, so unsurprisingly we only had a single one, at the forest site near Chapadao do Ceu.

BLUE-GRAY SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens)

Part of the Grayish Saltator complex which was fairly recently split into three species. This one was a commonly seen and heard species in the Pantanal.

GREEN-WINGED SALTATOR (Saltator similis)

A single bird at our Emas picnic lunch spot kicked things off, but these birds were mostly seen (or more often heard) at Caraca, where they seem pretty common.

GOLDEN-BILLED SALTATOR (Saltator aurantiirostris)

Ebird shows only one other record of this species in Brazil, that being a way out of range bird photographed in SW Bahia that may well have been an escapee. It is likely though that it is regular in SW Brazil as it occurs regularly just across the border in Bolivia and Paraguay. In any case, this was a nice surprise for the trip, and a country tick even for Marcelo! Our guide at San Francisco brought us to the scrubby field where these birds had been seen earlier, and after a bit of a struggle, we finally managed to get decent views (and terrible photos) of a pair of them.


GREATER BULLDOG BAT (Noctilio leporinus)

These were the large bats we saw skimming over several ponds during our night drives at San Francisco.

TUFTED-EAR MARMOSET (Callithrix jacchus)

If you're serious about mammal taxonomy, note that iNaturalist calls the marmosets in the Cipo region Black-pencilled Marmoset (Callithrix penicillata). A few of us saw these near the swimming pool at Fazenda Monjolos, and then we all saw a few beautifully along the entrance road when Marcelo heard them as we were driving out for the last time.

MASKED TITI MONKEY (Callicebus personatus) [*]

We heard a troop of these calling as we birded around the soccer field at Caraca.

BLACK HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta caraya)

A few were seen loafing in the treetops along the river during the boat trip at Aguape.

BROWN CAPUCHIN (Cebus apella)

These monkeys were seen commonly at both Pantanal venues, though note that again iNaturalist treats the ones from here as a different species: Azara's Capuchin (Sapajus cay).

GIANT ANTEATER (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

We didn't see quite as many as on some tours, but we had fantastic looks at the ones we did see at least! All but one of our sightings came on our first afternoon at Aguape, where we had at least 4 of these strange beasts, including a wonderful mother with a small pup riding on its back. Our lone sighting away from Aguape was a fairly distant one that Todd spotted late in the afternoon as we birded the marshy areas outside of Emas NP.

SIX-BANDED (YELLOW) ARMADILLO (Euphractus sexcinctus)

A few of these were seen daily in the Pantanal, including the very habituated pair at Aguape that regularly wandered through the kitchen and dining area!

NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO (Dasypus novemcinctus)

A nice close one on our first afternoon in Campo Grande, then a single at Aguape and another along the track at Emas NP.

BRAZILIAN RABBIT (Sylvilagus brasiliensis)

Just a couple of sightings in the Pantanal. This is the only rabbit species in all of South America!

GUIANAN SQUIRREL (Sciurus aestuans)

Most folks saw one around the sanctuary at Caraca at some point.


As we were driving through the outskirts of Belo Horizonte just after dark, Marcelo spotted what we initially thought was an opossum of some sort scrambling across power lines along the road, so we quickly pulled over for a look, and realized it was actually a porcupine! The English name for this species is Paraguayan Hairy Dwarf Porcupine.

CAVY SP. (Galea/Cavia sp.)

The only cavy species shown in iNaturalist for Mato Grosso do Sul is Brazilian Guinea Pig (Cavia aperea), so that may well be the species we saw at San Francisco, then again in the Cipo region.

CAPYBARA (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris)

Common and seen daily in the Pantanal. Away from the Pantanal, we had just a single one in a small river just outside of Emas NP.

AZARA'S AGOUTI (Dasyprocta azarae)

A few sprinkled through the first half of the tour in the Pantanal and at Emas.

CRAB-EATING FOX (Cerdocyon thous)

Seen numerous times over the first half of the tour, with a single one also at the feeding terrace at Caraca. Most memorable was one seen on a night safari at San Francisco that was carrying a good-sized rabbit in its mouth.

While we always hope for Jaguar on this tour, it is certainly not guaranteed, so when one was reported nearby at San Francisco, we rushed to the spot, and then enjoyed a magical hour in the company of this magnificent creature! Video by tour participant Mark Chojnacki.

MANED WOLF (Chrysocyon brachyurus)

This one only showed up on the first of our three nights at Caraca, though it came in very early (before the food had been set out) and we had incredible views of it. But I kind of preferred the one we had near Emas. The view wasn't quite as good, but it was a truly wild, non-habituated animal, and I loved that it moved towards us in response to our squeaking. Fun to see one away from the Caraca wolf terrace.

CRAB-EATING RACCOON (Procyon cancrivorus)

A couple of these dark raccoons were in the feeding area at Aguape one evening. Though similar to our common trash pandas, this species has dark legs and feet, and the fur of the nape points towards the head, not the back end, though we didn't see this particular trait.


A group of half a dozen or so dashed across an open field and into the forest during one of our safaris at Aguape.

STRIPED HOG-NOSED SKUNK (Conepatus semistriatus)

Marcelo spotted one in a stubble field as we were heading back to our hotel in the dark after our Giant Snipe hunt near Emas. And because we stopped for a look at the skunk, we also spotted that Maned Wolf on the opposite side of the road!

NEOTROPICAL OTTER (Lontra longicaudis)

An all-too-brief view of one in one of the canals at San Francisco.

OCELOT (Felis pardalis)

A couple of these were spotlighted on our first night safari at San Francisco, including one that sat calmly in the beam of the spotlight for several long minutes before casually getting up and wandering slowly off into the tall grass. Incredible views, and yet this was just the second best cat of the day!

JAGUAR (Panthera onca)

We were in the middle of our first afternoon safari at San Francisco when word came over the radio that a jaguar had been spotted not far away, so we quickly abandoned our plan and raced off to the site. Expecting to see a "jaguar jam" of other vehicles lined up, we were surprised (and pleased) to arrive at the spot and find that while the jaguar was there lounging on a log next to the forest, there were no other vehicles around! A few vehicles did come and go while we were there, but for the better part of the next hour we had this magnificent beast to ourselves. It spent most of its time trying to get comfortable enough to doze off while being attacked by biting flies, though each time a vehicle came along, it would become alert, and begin to peer around for the source of the disturbance. It was a phenomenal, magical, experience with one of South American's most iconic large mammals, and certainly one of the most memorable sightings of the tour.

BRAZILIAN TAPIR (Tapirus terrestris)

While not guaranteed on this trip, the odds are certainly good, as we've only missed tapir once over the past 8 tours. But I don't think we've ever had as many as this trip, as we had 5 sightings of probably 4 different individuals, not including the tame one at the Emas NP camp. We started off with one along the road between Emas and town as we headed in after dark, then tallied another late the following afternoon in the marshes outside of Emas. Both decent views, but both rather distant. The next day, shortly after seeing the tame one at Emas, we drove on and discovered a very pale one feeding in a brushy field near the river, and not far from the road. It didn't seem very bothered by us, and we finally had our amazing looks. Which we improved on at Caraca, where we had one at point blank range on two nights as it came to feed on the scraps meant for the wolves. Overall a very good tour for tapirs!


At Emas NP one morning, Linda announced that she had spotted a large mammal on a distant hillside. As we strained to see what it was, we soon realized there wasn't just one, but roughly 20-30, and that they were these peccaries! They eventually wandered out of sight into the gallery forest at the foot of the hill, but I was thrilled to finally see these beasts after hearing and smelling them in the past!

MARSH DEER (Blastocerus dichotomus)

The larger of the two diurnal deer species in the Pantanal, this one was a common sight in the wet environs of San Francisco, and we also had a distant one outside of Emas NP.

PAMPAS DEER (Ozotoceros bezoarticus)

The smaller of the diurnal deer, This was the common one in the drier habitats of Aguape and Emas.

RED BROCKET DEER (Mazama americana)

A couple of sightings during our night drives at San Francisco, and a pair by the pond at Caraca early on our final morning.


ETHERIDGE'S LAVA LIZARD (Tropidurus etheridgei)

This is apparently the lizard we kept seeing on the termite mounds at Emas.

GIANT AMEIVA (Ameiva ameiva)

We saw this large whiptail lizard at San Francisco.

GOLDEN TEGU (Tupinambis teguixin)

Not particularly golden, but these large lizards were seen along the roads a few times at San Francisco and at Emas.

GREEN PARROT SNAKE (Leptophis ahaetulla)

Our driver spotted a couple of different ones during the night drives at San Francisco, though neither one was on the road!


Thank Jesus we saw this snake! Jesus, our driver, that is, as he spotted it crossing the road in front of the van as we were just about to leave Emas NP.


Numerous wherever there was enough water for them in the Pantanal.


Also seen were the following:

Serra do Cipo Lava Lizard (Eurolophosaurus nanuzae): the lava lizard seen in the Serra do Cipo, obviously!

Mato Grosso Lancehead (Bothrops mattogrossensis): I think we called this one B. neuwiedii, but I think this is the correct species name for that viper that had been caught at Aguape. We only saw it in the large plastic container.

Totals for the tour: 429 bird taxa and 27 mammal taxa