Image of the Month February 2024: Lear's Macaw

Photographer: DuĊĦan Brinkhuizen   Destination: Brazil

It's no surprise that Brazil’s absurd level of endemicity and avian biodiversity places it right up there on any global birders' travel wish list, with close to 1,900 bird species. From the depths of the Amazon rainforest to the sprawling Pantanal wetlands and the lush Atlantic Forest, almost 60% of all the bird species of South America can be found. This mind-blowing percentage comprises 103 families and 243 country endemic species in Brazil alone!


This month we feature the endangered Lear’s Macaw as a tribute to the sheer diversity and taxonomic mystery of the bird species to be found within Brazil’s borders. The Lear’s Macaw, a resident of interior northeastern Brazil, had been known to science through traded birds since 1856, however a wild population wasn't discovered until as recently as1978! Shortly after its discovery, the entire population of this species was estimated at a shocking 41 individuals, making it instantly one of the most threatened species on the planet. It has since made an incredible recovery and stands as one of the most heart-warming conservation success stories with the species being recently moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered by the IUCN.


Dusan Brinkhuizen and his guests were justifiably in awe as they had an excellent sighting of this species on our 2023 NE Brazil tour. This tour visits one of the best-known sites where you stand at the base of the Lear’s Macaw breeding cliffs and watch 200 of these incredible birds fill the sky as the sun rises. For many people who have visited this incredible place it ranks as one of their most spectacular and memorable birding moments!


Besides Lear’s Macaw, the Northeast of Brazil is home to some of the rarest and most localised birds on our planet. With extremely varied habitat this trip is one of only a few that typically sees over 100 country endemics! These include an extraordinary number of endangered and critically endangered species many of which are flagships for conservation:


  • Grey-breasted Parakeet (Endangered)

  • Araripe Manakin (Critically Endangered)

  • Orange-bellied Antwren (Critically Endangered)

  • Alagoas Tyrannulet (Critically Endangered)

  • Pinto’s Spinetail (Endangered)

  • Bahia Tyrannulet (Endangered)

  • Slender Antbird (Endangered)

  • Blue-eyed Ground Dove (Critically Endangered)

  • White-collared Kite (Endangered)

  • Hook-billed Hermit (Endangered)

  • Scalloped Antbird (Endangered)

  • Fringe-backed Fire-eye (Endangered)

  • Bahia Tapaculo (Endangered)

  • Banded Cotinga (Critically Endangered)

  • Sincora Antwren (Endangered)

  • Minas Gerais Tyrannulet (Endangered)

  • Long-tailed Woodnymph (Endangered)

  • Pernambuco Foliage-gleaner (Endangered)


The truth is Brazil is almost an endless treasure trove of regions to explore, each offering their own unique species and highlights. The mammals are also not to be ignored and for those who have never been to the Pantanal, for example, this is a wildlife extravaganza. The birding is fabulous with so many species that seem to want to be seen while this is THE best place on Earth to see the mighty Jaguar, Giant Otter, Ocelot, Lowland Tapir, Marsh Deer, Southern Tamandua, and even the elusive Giant Anteater!


We look forward to seeing you in Brazil.