Carajás National Forest, Brazil - 13th - 20th September 2012

Published by Peter B. Armstrong (pbarmstrong AT ucdavis.edu)

Participants: Peter Armstrong, Margaret Armstrong, Hugh Dingle, Edson Enrigo

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Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Bare-faced Curassow
Bare-faced Curassow
Black-faced Tanager
Black-faced Tanager
Harpy Eagle
Harpy Eagle
Pavonine Cuckoo
Pavonine Cuckoo
Rufous-necked Puffbird
Rufous-necked Puffbird
Red-billed Toucan
Red-billed Toucan

Birding guide-books: “A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil” by Ber van Perlo was our principal field guide. Generally, the illustrations here are adequate. Unfortunately, “Birds of Northern South America”, vol. 2, while featuring better art-work, does not include Brazil in its coverage and thus lacks many of the species that are present in the Carajás National Forest. Also unfortunately, the Carajás National Forest is outside of the coverage area of the sole title in an excellent regional series under development by The Wildlife Conservation Society, “Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal and Cerrado of Central Brazil”. Once this series has matured with field guides covering each of the several ecotomes of Brazil, this nation will have the field guide(s) that its avifauna deserves.

Principal guide: Our guide was the talented Edson Enrigo, [avesfoto@avesfoto.com.br]. After three trips to four of Brazil’s major birding locales with him, I can recommend Edson without reservation. Edson has excellent organizational skills, is outgoing and knows the right folk in several of Brazil’s most productive birding locales, has excellent command of English, and is great company. His command of auditory birding in unsurpassed, both in regard to the identification of the calling bird and in his ability to locate the source of the call in space. Because so much tropical birding depends on these parallel skills, Edson is an excellent choice for birding in Brazil. Edson is one of the most accomplished photographers of the birds of Brazil and his several publications on the avifauna of different regions of Brazil feature his stunning photographs. Our local guide was Filho (all tourists visiting the Carajás National Forest are required to employ a local guide.) Filho has excellent bird-finding skills, and good local knowledge.

Background: Birding was conducted in the Carajás National Forest, which is located in the Southeast portion of the state of Pará, and is a conservation area of 411 thousand hectares. We flew to Marabas City, then drove to our comfortable hotel in Parauapebas City. Daily birding involved a drive of 1-2 hours each morning into the forest, starting well before dawn. The Carajás National Forest contains both extensive tracts of magnificent forest and the Carajás iron mines, the largest open-pit iron-mining complex in the world.

The habitats that we visited in the Carajás National Forest included extensive old-growth forest in hilly terrain, riparian forest, small patches of marshy Moriche (Buriti) Palm forest, and Canga, brushy terrain found on those of the hill tops that have an iron content in the soil that is too high to permit forest growth. Perhaps the most easily birded region was present within the confines of Carajás City, which is located within the forest. This city contains several patches of forest and birding at the city zoo was quite productive. Carajás City prohibits its citizens from owning cats or dogs, thereby decreasing predation on birds, and the birds are accustomed to people, so species like Marbled Wood-Quail, White-browed Guan, and Bare-faced Curassow are relatively easy to find.

The politics of the survival of the forest contained within the bounds of the Carajás National Forest is interesting. Our 100+ km drive from the airport of Marajas city was through a uniformly deforested landscape devoted to grazing a sparse population of cattle. This was once forest. The sorry state of this territory is reminiscent of much of southeastern Brazil, where more than 90% of a once lush coastal rainforest has been lost to pastureland. There appears to be a general consensus that Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale), the private corporation that owns and operates the huge Carajás iron mines located within the territory of Carajás National Forest, has exercised responsible stewardship of the surrounding forest.

It is thought that the preservation of the forest is largely thanks to the activities of Vale, which operates its conservation activities through its partnership with the Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity (ICMBio). A presentation of this situation can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science_environment_18483647, and
http://www.oecoamazonia.com/en/news/brazil/27_carajas_dilema_do_desenvolvimento_sustentavel.

Our birding activity concentrated on species new to our personal life lists and, as a result, we failed to pursue several of the familiar species that we encountered. We were content to leave many of these as ‘heard-only’ birds. I list below only the ‘interesting birds’; common or wide-spread species, such as Rufous-naped Sparrow and Yellow-headed Caracara, do not make the list; heard-only birds also are unlisted. Our most important misses were Cryptic Forest-Falcon (heard only), Vulturine Parrot (heard only), Rufous-capped Nunlet (heard only), Band-tailed Antbird, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Black-chested Tyrant, and Fiery-capped Manakin (heard only). We tried three times to find Black-chested Tyrant in prime habitat, but all of our efforts elicited only a few desultory call-notes; not even a complete song, much less a sighting. We ended with 186 seen bird species and an additional 38 heard-only species.

Photographs: Selected examples of my photographs from this trip can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76761439@N04/

Species Lists

Brazilian Tinamou: two birds called in by Edson.
Horned Screamer.
Rusty-margined Guan: an endemic species seen on multiple occasions.
White-crested Guan: an endemic seen every day.
Red-throated Piping Guan: seen almost every day.
Bare-faced Currasow: seen every day.
Marbled Wood Quail: seen on three days; best seen in Carajás City.
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
King Vulture: seen on two days.
American Swallow-tail Kite: seen every day, often in substantial numbers.
White Hawk: seen multiple times; seen close-up at the Carajás Zoo.
Harpy Eagle: a resident pair seen and photographed at the Aguas Claras nest.
Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle: single individual seen in flight
Black Caracara
Red-throated Caracara
Laughing Falcon
Brown-winged Trumpeter: a flock seen in the forest near Carajás City.
Russet-crowned Crake: an inhabitant of the Canga grasslands.
South American Snipe: we found this in a hill-top lake in the Canga grasslands.
Blue Ground-Dove
Rudy Pigeon
Gray-fronted Dove: seen every day
Hyacinth Macaw: seen on only a single occasion, but seen well. A stunning bird!
Blue-and-Yellow Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Red-and-Green Macaw: seen almost every day.
Chestnut-fronted Macaw
White-eyed Parakeet
Jandaya Parakeet: a playback of the flight call induced a fly-by pair to land in a near-by tree for extended viewing.
Pearly Parakeet: several birds feasting in a fruiting tree allowed extended viewing.
Santaren (Hellmayr’s) Parakeet: the common parakeet; seen most days.
Golden-winged Parakeet
Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet: a fly-by pair. A rare bird for Brazil.
Blue-headed Parrot: seen every day.
Yellow-headed Parrot
Red-fan Parrot: seen on only one occasion, but seen well, including the red-fan display of the male.
Hoatzin
Pavonine Cuckoo: after several failed tries, Edson brought a bird in for extended viewing and photography.
Screech-Owl (new species): a pair of birds called in for extended viewing after dark on the Parauapedas River trail that begins shortly after the entry gates to the Carajás complex. This species resembles the Southern/Northern Tawny-Bellied Screech Owl complex, but is gray with brown eyes and has a different call than either of those species.
Spectacled Owl: seen both along the Parauapedas River trail and at the Carajás City Zoo.
Amazonian Pygmy Owl: seen calling during the day.
Common Potoo
Short-tailed Nighthawk
Pauraque: seen almost every day, including one bird incubating a single egg that we almost trod upon.
Blackish Nightjar
Gray-rumped Swift
Pale-rumped Swift
Rufous-breasted Hermit
Reddish Hermit
Cinnamon-throated Hermit
Maranhao Hermit: a recent split from Cinnamon-throated Hermit. Seen well beside the Itacaiunas River.
Gray-breasted Saberwing
Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
White-necked Jacobin
Black-throated Mango
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird
Blue-chinned Saphire
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
White-chinned Saphire
Green-tailed Goldenthroat: found in the Canga
Versicolored Emerald
Long-billed Starthroat
White-tailed Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Green Kingfisher
Brown Jacamar
Blueish-Necked Jacamar
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
White-necked Puffbird
Collared Puffbird
Striolated Puffbird
Rufous-necked Puffbird
Black-fronted Nunbird
White-fronted Nunbird
Swallow-wing
Red-billed Toucan
Channel-billed Toucan
Lettered Aracari
Black-necked Aracari
Gold-fronted Piculet
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Red-stained Woodpecker
White-throated Woodpecker
Golden-green Woodpecker: the form found in the Carajas National Forest has a black throat. Rumor has it that Golden-green Woodpecker may eventually be split into as many as 6 separate species, with the black-throated population to be assigned separate species status. It was seen at the Carajás City Zoo.
Waved Woodpecker: seen at the Carajás City Zoo
Lineated Woodpecker
Red-necked Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Glossy Antshrike
Natterer’s Slaty-Antshrike
Cinereus Antshrike
White-eyed Antwren
Ornate Antwren
Pygmy Antwren
Amazonian Streaked Antwren
Plain-throated Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Long-winged Antwren
Gray Antwren
White-fringed Antwren
Blackish Antbird
White-backed Fire-eye
Black-faced Antbird
Spix’s Warbling Antbird: a new split and a Brazilian endemic. Seen on three separate days.
Wing-banded Antbird: a reclusive bird seen fairly well in deep cover.
Spot-backed Antbird
Dot-backed Antbird
Scale-backed Antbird
Black-spotted Bare-eye
Chestnut-bellied Gnateater
Black-bellied Gnateater
Amazonian Antpitta: seen quite well along the banks of the Itacaiunas River.
Plain-brown Woodcreeper
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
Brigida’s Woodcreeper: look for this endemic at the Carajás City Zoo.
Carajás Woodcreeper: seen almost every day
Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper: the unbarred race of Barred Woodcreeper
Striped Woodcreeper
Narrow-billed Woodcreeper
Lineated Woodcreeper
Red-billed Woodcreeper: a reclusive individual seen poorly
Sooty-fronted Spinetail
Ruddy Spinetail
Peruvian Recurvebill: a reclusive species; our bird was seen poorly
Para Foliage-gleaner
Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant
Zimmer’s Tody-Tyrant
Black-and-White Tody-Tyrant
Slate-headed Tody-Tyrant
Spotted Tody-Tyrant
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Plain-crested Ilaenia
White-lored Tyrannulet
Mouse-colored Tyrannulet
Short-tailed Pygmy Tyrant
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Blackish Pewee: a rare and localized bird in Brazil.
Long-tailed Tyrant
Piratic Flycatchcer
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatchcer
Great Kiskadee
Lesser Kiskadee
Streaked Flycatcher
White-throated Kingfisher
Greyish Mourner
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Short-crested Flycatcher
Cinnamon Attila
Sharpbill: the northern population of Sharpbill is a potential split from the population in the Atlantic coastal rainforest. Seen on two occasions in the the Carajás City Zoo.
Guianan Red Cotinga: gorgeous!
Purple-Breasted Cotinga
Spangled Cotinga
White Bellbird: a male bird posturing and shaking its dangly bit in the presence of a female.
Screaming Piha
White-tailed Cotinga
Bare-necked Fruitcrow
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin
Opal-crowned Manakin
Blue-backced Manakin
Red-headed Manakin
Black-crowned Tityra
Black-tailed Tityra
Masked Tityra
White-browed Purpletuft
Cinereous Becard
Chestnut-crowend Becard
Crested Becard
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Gray-crested Greenlet
Dusky-capped Greenlet
White-napped Jay
Coraya Wren: a noisy but reclusive species that finally showed well.
Buff-breasted Wren
Southern Nightingale Wren
Pale-breasted Thrush
White-necked Thrush
Black-faced Tanager: a Canga bird. Seen well and photographed.
Magpie Tanager
Red-billed Pied Tanager
Hooded Tanager
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Flame-crested Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
White-lined Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Turquois Tanager
Spotted Tanager
Masked Tanager
Swallow Tanager
Black-faced Dachnis
Pectoral Sparrow
Buff-throated Saltator
Rose-breasted Chat
Green Oropendola
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Red-rumped Cacique
Epaulet Oriole
Red-breasted Blackbird
Purple-throated Euphonia
Violaceous Euphonia
White-lored Euphonia

Mammals

Agouti
Tapeti (Brazilian Rabbit)
Crab-eating Fox
Amazonian Brown Brocket
South Anerican Coati
Red-handed Howler
Common Squirrel Monkey
Black Tamarin
Red-bellied Titi
additionally, the Carajás City Zoo has free-ranging, but human-friendly Brazilian Tapirs who enjoy having their ears scratched.