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NORTHEAST BRAZIL

Brazil's most endangered endemics

Birdquest's Northeast Brazil birding tour is a classic among a diverse series of Brazilian birdwatching trips that we offer.Our very comprehensive Northeast Brazil tour, which offers unsurpassed coverage of the region, focuses on the many endemic specialities of this little-visited but bird-rich and predominantly arid part of this huge country, including Lear's Macaw, White-collared Kite, Pygmy Nightjar, Grey-breasted Parakeet, Hook-billed Hermit, Hooded Visorbearer, Great Xenops, Pink-legged Graveteiro, Stresemann’s Bristlefront (one of the world’s rarest birds), Ceará Gnateater, Fringe-backed Fire-eye, White-browed Antpitta, Bahia Tapaculo, the stunning Araripe Manakin, Banded Cotinga, White-naped Jay, Seven-coloured Tanager and the enigmatic Scarlet-throated Tanager.

Monday 18th February — Tuesday 12th March 2019
(23 days)


Alagoas & Pernambuco Extension: Tuesday 12th March — Saturday 16th March (5 days)

Leader: Eduardo Patrial

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Mostly easy walking and mostly comfortable accommodations

The critically endangered Araripe Mankin was only discovered in 1996 and described in 1998. Its population is estimated at fewer than 800, but it is sure to be one of the stars of our tour! (Pete Morris)

The critically endangered Araripe Mankin was only discovered in 1996 and described in 1998. Its population is estimated at fewer than 800, but it is sure to be one of the stars of our tour! (Pete Morris)

The vast expenses of Brazil contain some of South America’s least known and most endangered birds. This huge country boasts an impressive bird list of more than 1800 species, but it is the very high number of endemics, more than 200 in total, that particularly lures the international birder to this enormous chunk of South America. Many of these endemics live in the humid hill forests along the Atlantic coast, but a considerable number are found in the drier habitats of Northeast Brazil.

Brazil is so large that it has to be looked on as if it were a continent by itself, and so a single birding trip there can never do it justice. On this exciting journey through Northeast Brazil we will concentrate on finding the little known birds of the Caatinga, the deciduous forests, the central Brazilian tablelands and the northern Atlantic humid forests. More than 15 species new to science have been described from this forgotten corner of Brazil in the last 20 years! Our revised itinerary is the most comprehensive bird tour available in Northeast Brazil, adjusted over years of experience in the region.

The most characteristic habitat of the northeast is Caatinga: low thorny woodland and scrub intermixed with many cacti and terrestrial bromeliads. Poor soils and irregular rainfall create a really harsh landscape. This arid and very special environment is highly threatened by overgrazing and clearing for agriculture and is home to several of the rarest birds in the world. Best known amongst these is the magnificent Lear’s Macaw, of which around a thousand survive in the wild. Another gem is the recently-described and gorgeous Araripe Manakin, which can only be found at the base of the cliffs of the Chapada do Araripe.

We will also explore the deciduous forests of Bahia, where several rare antbirds are to be found, and the scenically-pleasing north-eastern Brazilian tablelands, home to some lovely endemic hummingbirds.

The ‘zona da mata’ (literally meaning ‘forest zone’) in Pernambuco and Alagoas states is restricted to a narrow coastal strip of only 100 kilometres (60 miles) wide, but little is now left of the dense Atlantic coastal forest that greeted the first Europeans in the 16th century. Sadly, in this better-watered region where most of the population now lives, the rich forests of the Pernambuco avian endemism centre have given place to a sea of sugarcane crops.

We will start our explorations at Fortaleza, the capital of the state of Ceará, from where we will head west to search for special endemics such as Hooded Gnateater and Moustached Woodcreeper around Sobral, while at the interesting Serra da Meruoca we will be hoping to find the much-sought-after Buff-fronted Owl.

Then we travel eastwards to the humid forests of the Serra do Baturité where we will be looking for such Northeast Brazil endemics as Grey-breasted Parakeet, Ochraceous Piculet, Grey-headed Spinetail, Ceará Gnateater and Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant.

Further south, entering the Caatinga at Quixadá, we will look for Pygmy Nightjars roosting at rocky outcrop and such typical Caatinga endemics of Northeast Brazil as Caatinga Parakeet, Caatinga Cacholote, Campo Troupial, Pale Baywing, the gorgeous Red-cowled Cardinal, White-throated Seedeater and even the rare and shy White-browed Guan.

Reaching the extreme south of Ceará, in the forests of the Chapada do Araripe, as well as the famous and exquisite Araripe Manakin we will want to find some additional Northeast Brazil endemics including Tawny Piculet, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Great Xenops, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Caatinga Antwren, White-browed Antpitta and White-naped Jay.

The famous Canudos Biological Station and Raso da Catarina Ecological Station hold most of the remaining population of the spectacular Lear’s Macaw and getting splendid views of these magical creatures will be a primary goal of this tour. Additional Northeast Brazil endemics here include Broad-tipped Hermit, Spotted Piculet and the uncommon Ash-throated Casiornis.

Near Jeremoabo we will look for Pectoral Antwren, while in the coastal forests of Sergipe state we will track down Jandaya Parakeet and the rare Fringe-backed Fire-eye, three more localized endemics of the Northeast.

We will then make our way back into the interior, bound for the Chapada Diamantina. Here our main target is the exquisite Hooded Visorbearer, but the supporting cast of Northeastern endemics includes East Brazilian Chachalaca, the subtly-plumaged Sincora Antwren, Diamantina Tapaculo and Serra Finch.

The Boa Nova area is a transition zone between Caatinga and Atlantic Forest. Several bird-rich habitats hold a high concentration of little-known species, foremost amongst which are three more Northeast endemics, Bahia Spinetail, Narrow-billed Antwren and the extremely localized Slender Antbird, but they also include Striated Softtail and Rio de Janeiro Antbird, two endemic species which are nowadays rarely seen further south.

While based at Macarani on the border of Minas Gerais state we will visit the Mata do Passarinho Private Reserve, the only known site for the extremely rare Stresemann’s Bristlefront, one of the rarest birds on Earth, with possibly as few as 10-15 individuals surviving! Scalloped Antpitta is another northeastern speciality we will look for in this area.

Later, at the southern coast of Bahia, near the town of Porto Seguro, we will seek out yet more Northeast Brazil endemics including the rare and splendid Banded Cotinga, Hook-billed Hermit and Bahia Antwren, as well as White-winged Cotinga and the poorly known Atlantic Forest form of the White-winged Potoo. The mangroves at Porto Seguro should produce the peculiar Little Wood Rail.

The nice lodge of Serra Bonita will be our base for our last hilly Atlantic Forest survey for rare Northeast Brazil endemics such as Bahia Tyrannulet and the amazing Pink-legged Graveteiro as well as more widespread but also rare Brazilian endemics like Plumbeous Antvireo and Salvadori’s Antwren. Finally it will be back to the coastal lowlands as we try to locate the rare Bahia Tapaculo (endemic to the Northeast), the stunning Eastern Striped Manakin and other jewels.

The ‘Zona da Mata’ area in Pernambuco and Alagoas will be covered by an optional extension for those who wish to encounter one of the most threatened groups of endemic birds in the world, including rare Northeast Brazil endemics like White-collared Kite, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Pinto’s Spinetail, Pernambuco Foliage-gleaner, Orange-bellied and Alagoas Antwrens, Alagoas Tyrannulet, Forbes’s Blackbird, Yellow-faced Siskin and Seven-coloured Tanager. Due to isolation effects on these small forest remnants over the last decades, the Atlantic Forest birding that is a feature of both states is becoming harder because of low bird density and some local cases of extinction, making some of these species increasingly tricky to find, although we can still expect to do well.

By the time we have to return home we will have gained an excellent understanding of what birding in this forgotten corner of Brazil is all about.

Birdquest has operated tours to Northeast Brazil since 2000.

Important: The Birdquest group size limit is significantly lower than for most other Northeast Brazil tours. Given the high proportion of forest birding during tours to the region, this is a real advantage for our participants.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are mostly of good or medium standard. The hotel at Canudos is fairly simple and some rooms have shared bathrooms. The guesthouse at Boa Nova is very simple, but most rooms have private bathrooms. Road transport is by minibus and roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort is easy in most areas, but there are a few moderate grade walks.

Climate: At this season it should be mostly dry and sunny. It is generally hot and humid in the lowlands and foothills. At higher altitudes daytime temperatures are pleasant, but it can get quite cold at night or when it rains.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £6390, €7280, $8370 Fortaleza/Salvador. Single Room Supplement: £506, €577, $663. Deposit: £800, €960, $1040.

Alagoas & Pernambuco Extension: £1290, €1470, $1690 Salvador/Recife. Single Room Supplement: £92, €105, $121. Deposit: £150, €180, $200.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes this flight: Salvador-Maceió.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.150.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Lear's Macaw is also classified as critically endangered and has a tiny world population. Sadly, Northeast Brazil has more than its fair share of endangered species (Pete Morris)

Lear's Macaw is also classified as critically endangered and has a tiny world population. Sadly, Northeast Brazil has more than its fair share of endangered species (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Seven-coloured Tanager is a Northeast Brazil endemic, occurring in Pernambuco and Alagoas (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Seven-coloured Tanager is a Northeast Brazil endemic, occurring in Pernambuco and Alagoas (Pete Morris)

2 photos View Gallery Photos From NORTHEAST BRAZIL
The spectacular Hooded Visorbearer is another amazing endemic that we should see well (Pete Morris)

The spectacular Hooded Visorbearer is another amazing endemic that we should see well (Pete Morris)

... as is the sneaky Gould's Toucanet (Pete Morris)

... as is the sneaky Gould's Toucanet (Pete Morris)

We will be hoping for a trio of endemic piculets - this is a male Spotted Piculet (Pete Morris)

We will be hoping for a trio of endemic piculets - this is a male Spotted Piculet (Pete Morris)

... a male Ochraceous Piculet (Pete Morris)

... a male Ochraceous Piculet (Pete Morris)

... and a male Tawny Piculet (Pete Morris)

... and a male Tawny Piculet (Pete Morris)

Some great antbirds are on the agenda, including the splendid Stripe-backed Antbird (Pete Morris)

Some great antbirds are on the agenda, including the splendid Stripe-backed Antbird (Pete Morris)

... and the endangered Fringe-backed Fire-eye (Pete Morris)

... and the endangered Fringe-backed Fire-eye (Pete Morris)

The rather strange and jay-like Scarlet-throated Tanager (this is a male) can be hard to find (Pete Morris)

The rather strange and jay-like Scarlet-throated Tanager (this is a male) can be hard to find (Pete Morris)

There are also several recently recognized endemics to find such as the distinctive São Francisco Sparrow (named after the local river) (Pete Morris)

There are also several recently recognized endemics to find such as the distinctive São Francisco Sparrow (named after the local river) (Pete Morris)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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