Birding Tour Brazil: Cerrado Endemics and Brazilian Merganser 2018

Duration: 9 days

Many people know of the immense Brazilian Amazon with its astonishing biodiversity. Some people might know about the highly endangered Atlantic Rainforest that once stretched across large sections of the Brazilian coast. However, even within Brazil, very few people are aware of the cerrado: a fascinating biome of vast grasslands, lightly wooded savannas, and ribbons of gallery forest growing along winding rivers. As one of the world’s most biodiverse tropical savannas, there are approximately 10,000 plant species in the cerrado. It also supports the greatest variety of large mammals in all of South America, including such iconic species as the stilt-legged maned wolf and tube-nosed giant anteater. By birding the spectacular landscapes of the inland state of Minas Gerais, we hope to encounter these mammals, as well as many of the cerrado’s most special birds, including but not limited to Brazilian Merganser, Cock-tailed Tyrant, and Cipo Canastero.

Our trip begins at the scenic Serra da Canastra National Park. The main focus here is finding the near-endemic Brazilian Merganser, a specialized denizen of clear-water streams and one of the Western Hemisphere’s most critically endangered birds. In addition, the rolling grasslands, wooded savannas, and gallery forests are home to an excellent assortment of range-restricted species, such as Brasilia Tapaculo, Golden-capped Parakeet, and Stripe-breasted Starthroat. This site also offers our best chance for giant anteater.

Next, the Serra do Caraça lies on a transition zone between the drier cerrado and verdant Atlantic Rainforest, providing an interesting mix of birds from both habitats, such as Gilt-edged Tanager, Serra Antwren, and Swallow-tailed Cotinga. However, the main attraction here is the nightly appearance of maned wolf at the monastery.

Our last port of call is Serra do Cipó National Park, a location renowned for its spectacular gorges and waterfalls. The rocky grasslands found in the higher elevations of this park are home to a highly localized set of Brazilian endemics: the spectacular Hyacinth Visorbearer, demure Cinereous Warbling Finch, and recently described Cipo Canastero. Our trip ends back in Belo Horizonte.

For those wishing to see more of the wonderful country of Brazil, this tour can be combined with our Heart of Brazil: Cerrado, Amazon and Pantanal 2018 tour, our Comprehensive Southeast Brazil: Intervales to Linhares Part I 2018 tour, and our Comprehensive Southeast Brazil: Intervales to Linhares Part II 2018 tour for an overall 51-day Brazilian mega tour.

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