Environment

Brazil's Critically Endangered Endemic Birds

Brazil is home to almost 300 known species of endemic birds. We look at some of the most threatened among them.

Brazil is one of the most diverse countries in the world with the highest number of endemic bird species. Brazil's ecosystems are home to more than 300 species of endemic non-migratory birds. Most of these endemic birds are at a constant threat to their existence with most them listed as critically endangered- just on the verge of extinction. Brazil's reliance on agriculture has led to extensive deforestation for pasturelands and farming land leading to habitat loss and fragmentation. Though some species are listed as endangered, most of these species are protected, and more action has to be taken to preserve the uniqueness provided by this rare species.

Brazil's Critically Endangered Endemic Birds

Minas Gerais Tyrannulet

The Minas Gerais is small bird endemic to Brazil's gallery forests, tropical dry forests, and semi-deciduous forests and shrubs. The bird is distributed in the northern and central regions of Gerais. The bird has been listed as an endangered species due to habitat loss and degradation and has been protected by the Brazilian law though, however, no comprehensive efforts have been made. The bird has a head and body length of 12cm with a long slender and fairly cocked tail. The underside and wings of the bird are pale yellow against an olive-green upper body color and weigh about 8gm. The Minas Gerais forages tree canopies in pairs or family groups for arthropods. The bird has a lifespan of 3.6 years.

Hooded Seed-Eater

The hooded seed-eater is a critically endangered species endemic to Brazil. The species is thought to be possibly extinct in the wild due to lack of information on the species for close to two centuries since its first discovery in 1823. The hooded seed-eater is a terrestrial non-migratory bird with a black hood and throat and olive-coloured upper parts with a length of about 12cm. The bird's primary diet is seeds. Since little is known about the bird, there are no established threats to this species. Surveys to search for this species have been encouraged to establish the population, threats and conservation measures.

Forbes's Blackbird

The bird is a non-migratory endangered bird species endemic to Brazil's states of Pernambuco, Alagoas, and Gerais. The blackbird is predominantly black with a total head-body length of 12-24cm, a long tail, short rounded wings and a pointed beak. The bird forages in its habitats in groups of around 30 individuals for fruits, insects, and nectar. The Forbes's Blackbird reproduces during the rainy season laying two clutches per breeding season. During the period of reproduction, nests are built in cultivated mango trees. The bird is threatened by habitat destruction.

Alagoas Tyrannulet

The bird is a rare and endangered species endemic to Brazil. The bird occupies terrestrial systems in the humid and evergreen highland forests. Breeding occurs during the rainy season between September and December. The body length of the Alagoas Tyrannulet is between 11 and 12cm and an average weight of 8gms. The upper body is colored dark olive-green while the underparts are whitish with pale yellow wing bars on the dusky wings. The bird is a non-migratory species that forages on leaves and branches of tree canopies in their habitats. Severe habitat degradation due to logging and conversion into sugarcane plantations are the main threats to the population of the bird. Efforts towards conservation include protection by the Brazilian law and placement under protected areas such as the Pedra Talhada Biological Reserve.

Kinglet Calyptura

The kinglet calyptura is a critically endangered bird species endemic to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Kinglet's habitats are mainly in the Atlantic forests, in secondary growth forests and tropical lowland forests. The bird has a body length of 7.5-8cm, long red feathers on the crown, along with the conical bill, dusky wings with white wing bars and a short tail. The bird is non-migrant but seasonal altitudinal movement have been recorded. Small fruits like shrubberies, seeds and insects make up most of the kinglet's diet. Foraging is done in pairs on the leaves of trees in its habitats.

White-collared Kite

The white-collared kite is a non-migratory bird endemic to the humid, tropical lowland evergreen forests and coastal mangroves of Brazil. The bird is found in the states of Paraiba, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe. This kite is a critically endangered bird of prey due to habitat loss resulting from deforestation and agricultural expansion. The kite is large with a body length of about 50cm and weighs between 550 and 580g. The head is white with a pearl-grey crown and dark eyes with gray eye rings. The upper parts of the kite are darker than the whitish underside. The species has been protected in areas such as the Maurice forests with private individuals preserving the bird's habitats within their farms.

Blue-eyed Ground Dove

The dove is a highly rare bird endemic to Brazil. The non-migratory bird has been listed as critically endangered due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The small, brown dove has a length of about 15.5cm with pale brown underparts, a white throat, and dark-blue spots on the wings. Their feet are pinkish. Foraging is mainly done singly or in a pair with their main diet being seeds. The habitat of the Dove is restricted to the open savannah grasslands of Campo cerrado. Protected areas such as the Serro das Araras Ecological Station have been set up towards the conservation of the species together with the protection status by the Brazilian law.

Araripe Manakin

The manakin is a rare and native species in Brazil that has been categorized as a critically endangered species due to habitat loss through deforestation. The bird has a patterned white, black and red manakin with white wings in males and black wings in females. The females have an olive green body with a pale body. The body length of the bird is 15.5cm. The habitats of the manakin are in secondary growth forests and moist forests in humid parts. The bird is terrestrial and non-migratory and is mainly found in pairs. Breeding occurs during the rainy seasons in November to April with females laying a clutch of about two eggs. The species has been protected in areas such as the Oasis Araripe Reserve with NGOs making a contribution towards the conservation of the Araripe Manakin.

Spix's Macaw

Spix's macaw is a rare species endemic to northern Bahia in Brazil. The parrot is listed as a critically endangered species due to its declining population in its natural habitats mainly the woodland forests with tall and dense tree cover. Illegal trapping for the pet trade and habitat loss are the main threats to this species. The macaw is protected by the Brazilian law with some of its population being bred in captivity. The macaw is predominantly blue with the wings having a darker shade, a grayish throat, and a hooked grey-black bill. The body length is about 15.5cm. Breeding takes place during summer with the female laying a clutch of 2-3 eggs. Nests are mainly built in the Caribbean trumpet tree.

Cone-billed Tanager

The endemic bird has a length of 12-14cm and weighs about 15g. Males had a primarily black body with a white lower breast and pointed white bill. Females have an olive-brown upper body, a whitish lower body, and a dull olive-colored bill. The bird's habitats are gallery forests found in areas with water, and seasonally to permanently flooded forests. The bird is terrestrial and feeds on insects and seeds. The cone-billed tanager is found in Emas National Park, Alto Rio Juruena and Mato Grosso areas of Brazil. The bird has been listed as critically endangered due to habitat loss.

Role Of Brazilians In The Conservation Of Brazil's Birds

Private organizations and non-governmental bodies have played a significant role both directly and indirectly towards the preservation and protection of the endemic birds' biodiversity. Such efforts include support for governmental policies and activities, restoration of natural habitats and the establishment of private reserves where these birds are bred in captivity. Other critically endangered birds endemic Brazil include the cherry-throated tanager, Pernambuco pygmy owl, Randonia bush-bird, Rio de Janeiro Antwren, Alagoas Antwren, fringe-backed fire-eye, Alagoas forage-gleaner, pintos spine-tail, Bahia tapaculo and Stresemann's bristle front.

Critically Endangered Birds Endemic to BrazilScientific Name
Minas Gerais tyrannulet
Phylloscartes roquettei
Hooded seedeater
Sporophila melanops
Forbes's blackbird
Anumara forbesi
Alagoas tyrannulet
Phylloscartes ceciliae
Kinglet calyptura
Calyptura cristata
White-collared kite
Leptodon forbesi
Blue-eyed ground dove
Columbina cyanopis
Araripe manakin
Antilophia bokermanni
Spix's macaw
Cyanopsitta spixii
Cone-billed tanager
Conothraupis mesoleuca
Cherry-throated tanager
Nemosia rourei
Pernambuco pygmy owl
Glaucidium mooreorum
Rondonia bushbird
Clytoctantes atrogularis
Rio de Janeiro antwren
Myrmotherula fluminensis
Alagoas antwren
Myrmotherula snowi
Fringe-backed fire-eye
Pyriglena atra
Alagoas foliage-gleaner
Philydor novaesi
Pinto's spinetail
Synallaxis infuscata
Bahia tapaculo
Scytalopus psychopompus
Stresemann's bristlefront
Merulaxis stresemanni

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