Birding in the Pantanal is exceptional. Abundant aquatic birds and diverse avifauna make up the estimated 800 species of bird found in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area. This unique region spans kilometres of waterways across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay; and is one of the most attractive areas to enjoy a spot of birding. There are very few places in the world where you can view so many species of bird, so we recommend you head to the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where most of the Pantanal is located. The environment is pristine with crystal clear waters and lush emerald vegetation providing contrasting habitats for an array of unique birds.
The below is our list of species to spot while birding in the Pantanal.
Birding in the Pantanal : Scarlet Macaw
The scarlet macaw is a bold and attractive South American parrot with a neatly arranged pattern of red, yellow and cobalt blue feathers. It’s an iconic species in both South and Central America, and is an absolute winner to see in the wild. It’s also very easy to spot and identify; and certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to vocalising. You’ll probably hear the scarlet macaw squawking before you see it. This macaw is one of five species found in the area.
Birding in the Pantanal : Hyacinth Macaw
The hyacinth macaw is the largest and longest species of parrot, easily identifiable by its bright wintery blue plumage and yellow markings around the eyes. They’re one of the rare species of bird to spot in the Pantanal purely because of their rapidly declining numbers in the wold. Currently considered “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the hyacinth unfortunately prized by exotic pet collectors. These macaws mate for life and are often seen in pairs, so if you do spot one, be sure to look around for its partner.
Birding in the Pantanal : Toco Toucan
The toco toucan is also just referred to as the toucan, and is probably one of the world’s most easily recognised birds ! It has a massive banana shaped and mango colour beak protruding proudly from its small black and white colour body, making it quite a striking bird to spot in the wild. Having graced cereal boxes and cartoon shows for years, the toucan is certainly the most famous bird to spot in the Pantanal.
Birding in the Pantanal : Jabiru
The Jabiru is another iconic bird of the Pantanal and has a wide distribution across the Americas. This strange looking stork is the tallest flying bird in South America and boasts an impressive 2.3–2.8 m wingspan. This black-headed, white stork lives in large rivers and ponds that make up the Pantanal water system. Look out for a colossal bird with a white body, red throat and black head.
Birding in the Pantanal : Greater Rheas
Native to eastern areas in South America, the greater rhea is a grey fluffy flightless bird. It has similar features to an ostrich and emu, appearing to be a hybrid between both these species. They are – obviously – from the same family. The rheas use their long, spindly legs to outrun threats. Rheas can’t take to the skies to fly away from threats, so they tend to congregate in groups and with other animals to enjoy safety in numbers.
Birding in the Pantanal : Spectacled Owl
This owl is aptly named and is certainly a joy to spot in the world’s most diverse wildlife region. This nocturnal bird of prey has distinct rings and white feather markings around its amber eyes. They occupy a large range of tropical forest and tend to hide out in nests within tree cavities. Its chocolate brown markings ensure that its somewhat camouflaged and is actually quite tricky to spot. You’re likely to hear these owls before spotting them ! Follow the continuous low hooting sound to find these cute but tough birds of prey.
Click here to find out about our “Wild in Brazil” package, which highlights the wildlife of the Pantanal.