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List of species seen

Brown Booby   

These were regularly passing the Copacabana Beach, some quite close to the shore. ~20 were seen there on the Monday, with lower numbers on the Wednesday, but much higher numbers passed early on the Friday, some in lines of up to 10 birds at a time. ~20 were seen from the cruise to and from the Ilha do Bernardo

Neotropic Cormorant

Seen on most days, usually from the Copacabana Beach, with a maximum of ~30 on the Wednesday

Magnificent Frigatebird 

This was one of the most obvious and numerous species. Huge numbers were almost always evident on the coast, often seeking thermals in large groups before moving on. They were even seen flying past the helicopter on a ride around the statue of Christ

Great White Egret

These were in their hundreds along the rivers, particularly from the road between the airport and the city of Rio. They were even quite obvious from the aeroplane before landing. The best views were of one to two birds in the Botanical Gardens, where one bird passed by me while fishing in a stream, only feet away. This bird still had the breeding plumes attached

Snowy Egret

These were probably in much better numbers than the 10 or so counted from the coach on the journey to Ilha do Bernardo, but the speed of the bus meant that they couldn’t be separated very easily

Cattle Egret

Only seen in one large group of perhaps a hundred individuals next to the perimeter fence of the airport on the return from the cruise

Night Heron

One seen flying over the river between the airport and the city on the way to the cruise. A group of 4 birds also flew past the airport terminal before departure on Friday afternoon

Roseate Spoonbill 

~10 birds were in a tree adjoining a river inlet from the coach on the return journey from the Ilha do Bernardo

Black Vulture 

Extremely common, possibly second only to Magnificent Frigatebird in numbers. Hundreds were seen on most days, often catching thermals before moving on. They could also be seen perched almost anywhere, even on roadsides and on exposed mud around rivers

Turkey Vulture

Only 4 seen – over the Botanical Gardens on Thursday afternoon

Plumbeous Kite

A single bird was found perched above an open waterfall in the Tijuca Forest, looking totally soaked in the pouring rain. While watching, it flew down to the edge of the waterfall and returned with a lizard. It spent a short time on its feast, before being relocated on a more distant exposed perch

Roadside Hawk

2 were seen from the coach on the initial transfer from the airport on Monday morning, doing as their name suggests – perching on posts either beside or not far from the main road. A bird in the Botanical Gardens on Thursday was perched high on a single conifer. While waiting in my room for the departure of the coach to the airport on the Friday morning, a fourth bird circled upwards in front of the window, and a fifth bird was seen from the airport terminal, perched on a post on the opposite side of the main road

Southern Caracara 

This species was at one time part of the Crested Caracara complex, but has now been separated as a distinct species. The main visual difference seems to be that it is white around the back of the neck and throat than the more buffy coloured Crested. The first birds were a real surprise, with 2 from the boat on the way to the Ilha do Bernardo – one landed on a small island that we passed on the way. A third bird was seen from the coach on the return journey. After checking in at the airport on return, a short watch outside the departure terminal found 6 birds in a semi open area opposite the airport

Yellow-headed Caracara 

A single bird was disturbed from a perch above the path towards the summit on the Ilha do Bernardo

Laughing Falcon

What was at first thought to be a Yellow-headed Caracara, perched in the open on a tall bare tree in the Tijuca Forest, proved to be this species. The bird was a little distant, but the first giveaway was the dark mask through the eye


2 seen, both very close. The first must have been perched on the Le Meridien hotel at breakfast on the Tuesday morning (7:30am approx), since it was seen to dive away from here, circle a few times, and then return right in front of us to the hidden ledge above. A second bird performed a flypast outside the airport terminal building on the Friday afternoon

Rusty-margined Guan 

A single bird was picked out high up, almost in the canopy, in a slight opening of the trees surrounding a pool just within the boundary of the Tijuca Forest

Grey-necked Wood-rail 

These were surprisingly found out in the open in the Botanical Gardens, with 3 on the first visit, and 6 on the second. Although there were pools and small lakes within the gardens, where they were expected to be found, all seen were usually out in the open away from open water.

Southern Lapwing  

8 were seen in open grassy fields on the return from the cruise, before reaching the outskirts of the city. While waiting for the helicopter to return on Friday morning, a single bird was seen on the grass next to the helipad

Great Skua 

One from the boat returning from Ilha do Bernardo

Pomarine Skua  

A light phase bird past the boat on the return from Ilha do Bernardo

Kelp Gull 

Seen in small numbers along the coast, with a maximum of ~20 on Wednesday, when a few on Copacabana Beach on the morning were added to by a small group on a jetty from the cruise

Ruddy Ground-dove

Strangely, the best place for these was along the broken avenue that was the road running adjacent to the Copacabana Beach, with about 8 on Tuesday. A few birds were also seen in the Botanical Gardens

Red-shouldered Macaw  

A couple of small groups of these birds were seen in the Botanical Gardens on Thursday. Their size and shape initially indicated parakeets, but they were seen to have a distinctive white eye ring to lores facial pattern, and the reddish-orange shoulder patches could also be made out

Maroon-bellied Parakeet

Many groups of parakeets and small macaws were seen in the Botanical Gardens, with a few more over the Tijuca Forest. However, since many were flyovers, they could not be specifically identified. However, a group of ~20 of this species was pinned down 3 times on Monday, each time being successively closer, and they could then be positively identified. Although the red in the belly could be seen on some of the birds, this usually depended on the angle seen and the light, and may have even been absent or hidden on many of the birds

Plain Parakeet 

2 were in the Botanical Gardens on Monday, and 6 were together in the gardens on Thursday afternoon

Smooth-billed Ani 

At least 20 birds were seen from the coach on the outward and return journeys to the Ilha do Bernardo on Wednesday

Dusky-throated Hermit 

4 hermit hummingbirds are known to frequent the area – Saw-billed, Rufous-breasted, Reddish, and Dusky-throated. 3 hermit hummingbirds were seen in the Botanical Gardens, and were constantly on the move. This meant that they were difficult to see in their entirety. However, the noted combination of buff-bordered dark face mask, buffy underparts, and white only on the tips of the tail feathers define at least the third bird, where all these characters could be seen, as this species

Swallow-tailed Hummingbird 

These are quite large hummingbirds, and their forked tails can be quite spectacular when seen well. However, they are not always splayed, particularly in flight, and merely look like a longish tail. They are quite common and very easy to see, so much so that birds are obvious even along the main avenue of trees adjacent to the Copacabana Beach, where we saw at least 6 on one walk. They can also be seen well in the Botanical Gardens, where they are the most obvious of the hummingbirds. 6 were seen on Tuesday and Thursday, with at least 4 on Monday

Black Jacobin 

Only 1 was seen, in flight while feeding in the Botanical Gardens on the first visit

Violet-capped Woodnymph 

The purple crown on these birds can actually be quite hard to see (best viewed on video playback), and the other features of note – the forked tail and white undertail coverts – can also be hidden much of the time. The 2 birds that showed particularly well at the Botanical Gardens on Monday were generally typical of this, but were seen long and well enough for identification, with the video displaying all these characters well. On the return visit on the Thursday, a female was found huddled on a branch hiding from the pouring rain

Channel-billed Toucan 

We were very pleased with the close views of one of these birds at the Botanical Gardens on Monday, but one of our Brazilian guides was surprised that we had just seen the one there. This was made up for on Thursday, when our return to the gardens turned up at least 5 birds, the first pair of which were again very close and eager to please!

White-barred Piculet 

This is a family of woodpeckers that I had been wanting to see for some time, and it took a visit to the Tijuca Forest and some walking along one of the tarmac roads to finally pin one down. The bird seen was part of a mixed tanager and warbler bird party, seen about ¾ of an hour into the walk. It was quite approachable, feeding on a narrow branch next to the road at eye level

Red-eyed Thornbird 

A pair of these birds was one of the first species to be seen well on the path through the trees on Ilha do Bernardo

Sooretama Slaty-antshrike

Just before the first major bird party along the road in the Tijuca Forest, this bird was quietly foraging next to the road, within the cover of bushes. Seen well but probably for less than a minute

Star-throated Antwren

This species tends to be very elusive, or at least tends to keep to thick undergrowth and remains hard to pin down. It is also a bird that looks good in the books, but is even better first hand. The individual we saw was amongst the first species seen on the walk through the Tijuca Forest. Luckily, it was calling loudly, but took a little time to pin down, despite the fact that it was in vegetation bounding the edge of the road. Before disappearing, the bird was seen well – almost tailless, with obvious white spots dotting a grey throat. Nice bird!

Rufous-winged Antwren 

These smaller antbird families can have some striking species which are very nicely marked. The rufous primaries (and secondaries?) on the pair of birds seen in the Botanical Gardens on our first visit fall into this category – small birds and very nice to watch

Scaled Antbird

This pair of birds continued a good run of smaller and striking antbirds. They were first picked up on call, again in bushes right next to the road in the Tijuca Forest. Both birds seen shared the black and white scaled plumage, and one seemed to be feeding the other, so they may have been a male parent feeding a juvenile male

Grey-hooded Flycatcher

1 bird seen only – part of the mixed bird party seen along the track in the Tijuca Forest

Sepia-capped Flycatcher  

2 birds were seen in the Tijuca Forest, the first particularly well. As with most new world flycatchers, they can be tricky to separate when first seen, and this bird was no exception. The sepia coloured cap is by no means obvious, although the second bird did display this feature at times. However, the face pattern can be quite distinctive, with dark ear patches, along with buff coloured wing bars, which both birds showed well

Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher 

These are tiny birds, and according to the guide we used for the forest, difficult to see. We were thus pleased to have picked up 3 in the Botanical Gardens on the first visit, and a further 3 at the gardens and forest on the Thursday. As well as being small, they are also very active, not staying in one place for long, but the yellow lores and white eye can be very obvious with patience

Cliff Flycatcher 

The only bird seen was an individual hawking for insects from the roof of a small bungalow within the grounds of the Botanical Gardens

Velvety Black-tyrant

Two sightings of what may have been the same bird were on the Ilha do Bernardo, the first on the track up to the summit, the second in a small clearing while waiting for the boat to depart. Almost all black, they seemed to have a small white mark in the region of the primary base, and two small “prongs” of feathers from the centre of the tail

Masked Water-tyrant 

This species was something of a surprise, since it was much more urbanised than I had expected, and very approachable. There was even a pair at the end of the road adjacent to the Copacabana Beach, with the birds seen feeding next to the military instillation, and also on the beach itself. Other birds were seen in the Botanical Gardens, where there were at least 3 pairs. 2 of these were next to water (one a stream, the other an ornamental Japanese type pool), but the third pair was near the entrance to the gardens, feeding on a lawn

Short-crested Flycatcher 

These were only seen at the Botanical Gardens, and were in reasonable numbers (10’s). They tended to keep more to the lower understory of the vegetation than Tropical Kingbirds

Great Kiskadee

Noisy as always, the birds present were predictably obvious, but not in the numbers I would have expected (most was ~30 birds on the first day, in the Botanical Gardens). The only other day they were seen was on the Thursday, with up to 10 in the forest and gardens

Social Flycatcher

In smaller numbers than the Kiskadees, they had a very different call and bill shape (as well as being a little smaller). Up to 6 were in the Botanical Gardens, and 3 around the pool in the Tijuca Forest

Streaked Flycatcher 

A single bird landed and perched for some time on the opposite side of the pool before leaving the Tijuca Forest

Tropical Kingbird

More commonly seen than the above, perhaps more due to its habits of sitting on open or high perches. Some were even seen along the road bordering the Copacabana Beach

Greenish Schiffornis (Manakin)

1 bird next to the road on the walk through the Tijuca Forest

Brown-chested Martin

~6 were among the hirundine flock hawking insects next to the military instillation at the end of the Copacabana Beach on Tuesday

Grey-breasted Martin

A single bird flew close past the airport terminal before departure on the Friday afternoon. A few hirundines flying around the boat before sailing for the Ilha do Bernardo may also have been this species, but the conditions were too poor for adequate observation

Blue-and-white Swallow 

4 birds were among the hirundine flock next to the military instillation at the end of the Copacabana Beach on Tuesday

Southern Rough-winged Swallow 

Quite easily the most numerous of the hirundines. 20+ were buzzing in and out of the trees at the Botanical Gardens on both visits. This species was also the most numerous (again 20+ in the hirundine flock next to the military instillation at the end of the Copacabana Beach on Tuesday).

(Southern) House Wren  

These were quite confiding, all but one being seen in the Botanical Gardens (5 on the first visit, and 2 on the second). The only other bird was next to the military premises at the end of Copacabana Beach. It is the nominate race which occurs here – the birds seen held their tails cocked a little more than expected from this species, and the eye stripe was not to be seen, although they generally did have an obvious pale eye ring

Rufous-bellied Thrush

This was the only thrush seen, and was obvious in the Botanical Gardens (~10 birds) and Tijuca Forest (6). They fed in the open grassy areas, and some of the birds were singing

House Sparrow 

A few in the Copacabana Beach area

Common Waxbill

At least 30 birds were in the Botanical Gardens, and seen on numerous occasions. As with the others of this species now seen on 3 other continents, these will have been introduced

Rufous-crowned Greenlet

1 individual seen in the bushes from the track on Ilha do Bernardo

Masked Yellowthroat

1 bird seen – a female from the track on the Ilha do Bernardo. Although female yellowthroats are notoriously difficult to separate, this is the only species which occurs in Brazil

Golden-crowned Warbler

At least 20 of these were seen in small flocks in the Tijuca Forest. They were constantly active, but quite easily approached. The subspecies which occurs here tends to have an orange hue to its crown, but, as with birds seen elsewhere (Trinidad), the crown colour is usually difficult to discern


Very common, and also heard when not even seen. The subspecies in this part of Brazil is fairly pale, with a light grey throat

Orange-headed Tanager 

This was a species we had not expected to see, despite the fact that its almost pan-Brazilian range includes the Rio area. A single individual was seen on the track up the Ilha do Bernardo. It is quite a distinctive bird, with light grey under parts, darker grey upper parts, and a yellow/orange head

Brazilian Tanager 

4 were seen on the Ilha do Bernardo. They were much duller than expected (females or juveniles?), although the characteristic bill shape with a rounded pale base was easy to see (reminiscent of Silver-beaked Tanager)

Sayaca Tanager

This species is reputed to be closely related to the Blue-grey Tanager, and it is easy to see why. They are a little duller than that species, but do share a similar jizz and base colour. They were only slightly less common than Palm Tanager, and the 2 species were easy to separate once seen. ~30 were in the Botanical Gardens, ~10 in the vicinity of the military premises at the end of Copacabana Beach, and 1 on Ilha do Bernardo

Palm Tanager 

At least 50 birds were in the Botanical Gardens, and ~10 in the vicinity of the military premises at the end of Copacabana Beach

Purple-throated Euphonia  

A superb male was in overhead vegetation in the Botanical Gardens

Violaceous Euphonia

A pair of birds were near to the jeep at the pool just before departing the Tijuca Forest

Chestnut-bellied Euphonia

~5 birds were feeding next to the road at the end of the walk in the Tijuca Forest. Most were males, but a female or juvenile with them could not be identified at the time – it lacked the chestnut undertail coverts, so was presumably not this species

Green-headed Tanager 

These are THE chocolate box species that we saw, sharing the same glittering feathers on the head that many hummingbirds possess, but they are a very welcome bird to see at any time. They are also fairly easy to get close to. After the 4 in the Botanical Gardens on Monday, ~10 were in the Tijuca Forest (2 birds were the first birds seen in the forest at around 6:45am)

Red-necked Tanager 

Following closely behind the Green-headed Tanagers for colours are these birds – overall fairly green, but the males in particular possess a bright red neck with blue crown. One party of ~8 birds passed through, feeding on overhead bushes as they went

Blue Dacnis 

A single bird was feeding just below the canopy in the Botanical Gardens

Double-collared Seedeater  

These were only seen at the Botanical Gardens, with at least 6 there on the Thursday. The first bird seen on the Monday was a female, whose identification was confirmed by the presence of a male later. The most obvious birds were on the Thursday – the 6 present near to the entrance of the gardens were very approachable, since they seemed used to the human intrusion as they constantly returned to the lawn to feed of the seeding grass

Rufous-collared Sparrow 

One was seen with the first of the male Double-collared Seedeaters on the Monday at the Botanical Gardens. 3 more were at the top staging of Sugarloaf Mountain

Buff-throated Saltator 

Only one seen, hopping through the undergrowth of a path up to the waterfall in the Tijuca Forest

Shiny Cowbird 

~10 birds were feeding on one of the lawned areas of the Botanical Gardens on Monday

Chopi Blackbird 

A pair of birds were preening in a tree in the Botanical Gardens on Monday. Good views were had, and they showed the “vaseline effect” of the feathers on the rear of the crown well



Paintings gallery

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Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Species list

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