Minas Gerais

Cipo Canastero Asthenes luizae ©Daniel Mello
Birding Minas Gerais

Minas Gerais is a state in the north of Southeastern Brazil. It ranks as the second most populous, the third by gross domestic product (GDP), and the fourth largest by area in the country with an area of 586,528 square kilometres (226,460 square miles). It borders on Bahia to the north, Goiás to the west and northwest, Mato Grosso do Sul to the far west, the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to the south and the state of Espírito Santo to the east. It also shares a short boundary with the Distrito Federal (northwest). It is larger in area than France or Spain.

The state’s capital and largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a major urban and finance center in Latin America, and the sixth largest municipality in Brazil. The main producer of coffee and milk in the country, Minas Gerais is known for its heritage of architecture and colonial art in historical cities. The landscape of the State is marked by mountains,[5] valleys, and large areas of fertile lands. In the Serra do Cipó, Sete Lagoas, Cordisburgo and Lagoa Santa, the caves and waterfalls are the attractions. Some of Brazil’s most famous caverns are located there. In recent years, the state has emerged as one of the largest economic forces of Brazil, exploring its great economic potential.Minas Gerais is the largest state of Southeastern Brazil, covering one of the most important natural areas of this country, where the ‘cerrado’ biome is relatively well preserved and can be explored.

The Rio São Francisco has its headwaters in the state – one of the major Brazilian rivers – in the upper part of the Serra da Canastra National Park. At this location of extraordinary beauty, you can find one of the few populations of rare and critically endangered Brazilian Merganser, which attracts hundreds of birders to the region every year. In addition, 4 endemic species can be found in Minas Gerais state: Hyacinth Visorbearer Augastes scutatus, Cipo Canastero Asthenes luizae, Cipo Cinclodes Cinclodes espinhacensis and the recently-rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-Dove Columbina cyanopis. In Minas Gerais there are also large areas covered by the Atlantic Forest biome, especially in the ‘Serra da Mantiqueira’ region, and there is also an important area to the north of the state, covered by a small strip of the ‘Caatinga’ biome. Being a large state where these different biomes are connected, Minas Gerais is an unmissable destination for every birder who visits Brazil in search of beautiful birds and breath-taking landscapes.

Below are some of its top attractions and websites to the reserves and many places to stay where birding is an option. We welcome a proper introduction to this page from someone who knows the area well.

Top Sites
  • Itacarambi

    Satellite View
    Brazilian Black-tyrant Knipolegus franciscanus and Snethlage's Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes franciscanus have been found in dry forest at Fazenda Olhos d'Água, near Itacarambi, owned by Sr. José de Paula, one of the owners of the tomato extract plant on the right, just before Itacarambi. José de Paula sold most of the fazenda and retained a small part and the name Fazenda Olhos d'Água. The part with forest is now called Fazenda Nossa Senhora Aparecida and is owned by Sr. José Roberto. Coming from Januária, the entrance is on the left, 1km after a sign saying Itacarambi 5km. Open dry forest with very little understorey and not many birds. We had Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus and Snethlage's Woodcreeper, but not Brazilian Black-tyrant.
  • Mocambinho

    Satellite View
    Take the road from Itacarambi to Manga and +/- 3km from Itacarambi turn right, signposted Porto da Balsa para Mocambinho. The road after the ferry is through degraded caatinga with plenty of birds, including White-browed Guan Penelope jacucaca, Bahian Nighthawk Chordeiles vieilliardi (beside the river at dusk) and Lesser Wagtail-tyrant Stigmatura napensis. 7.8km from the ferry there is a bridge on the left over the main irrigation canal, leading to the town of Mocambinho. Continue along the right side of the main canal and at the third sluice / concrete block, 1.4km after bridge, turn right and follow the small branch canal. After 4.1km cross the canal and continue along the right bank. After a further 0.6km you reach the forest. Turn left and after 0.8km there is a trail through the forest, with a longwinded No Entry sign (White-browed Antpitta Hylopezus ochroleucus, Great Xenops Megaxenops parnaguae, Ash-throated Casiornis Casiornis fusca and San Francisco Sparrow Arremon franciscanus).
  • Parque Estadual Serra do Rola Moca

    Satellite View
    Three-toed Jacamar Jacamaralcyon tridactyla can be seen easily in the Parque Estadual Fernão Dias. Coming from Belo Horizonte, turn right off the Rodovia Fernão Dias (the main road from BH to São Paulo) in Contagem (15km from BH); immediately before the Carrefour hypermarket. Follow the road up and then down hill, with several curves. About 500m, after a Shell station on the left, bear left at a roundabout, towards some eucalyptus trees. The park entrance is immediately behind the PUC-MG building. Inside the park entrance, take the road to the right to a children's playground and then follow the road to the left down the hill and then, almost immediately, take a steep path to right. The birds are in trees above the earth bank in a gully, to the right.
  • Parque Nacional Cavernas do Peruaçu - Itacarambi

    Satellite View
    About 40km from Januária, on the road to Itacarambi, turn left to Fabião I and continue up a very rough dirt road through a valley. At first there is excellent semi-deciduous forest with Snethlage's Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes franciscanus, Ash-throated Casiornis Casiornis fusca, Reiser's Tyrannulet Phyllomyias reiseri and then, on emerging from the valley, good caatinga. On the path to right, just where the forest changes to caatinga, we had Great Xenops Megaxenops parnaguae and San Francisco Sparrow Arremon franciscanus, with the other more common caatinga species.
  • Parque Nacional da Serra da Canastra

    InformationSatellite View
    Be aware that the only way from the upper to the lower part of the park is through São Roque de Minas. There is no trail from the top to the bottom of the Casca d'Anta waterfall. On my first visit in October 1998 we heard the Brazilian Mergansers Mergus octosetaceus quacking when we walked down to the river for the first time at the place marked A on Forrester's map. We saw another an hour later at the foot of the waterfall. Most people are not so lucky but do seem to have seen them recently in the lower section of the Rio São Francisco. The Brasilia Tapaculo Scytalopus novacapitalis is a cinch if you have a tape. One appeared within seconds when we played back at Forrester's G and we heard it often in clumps of vegetation in the upper park. Ochre-breasted Pipit Anthus nattereri is readily found in the upper park. Juan Mazar Barnett wonders whether Hellmayr's Pipit Anthus hellmayri is present at all, people unfamiliar with the songs of the two species perhaps having confused the rare Ochre-breasted Pipit with this more common species.An updated and annotated version of Forrester's list has been published by Luís Fábio Silveira in Cotinga 10.
  • Parque Nacional da Serra do Cipó

    WebsiteSatellite View
    4km after Hotel Chapeu do Sol there is a green sign on the right (Olhe, Admire e Preserve. Não Destrua). Follow the trail up the hill and look for the Cipó Canastero Asthenes luizae among rocks on the plateau. Hyacinth Visorbearer Augastes scutatus and pale-throated Serra-finch Embernagra longicauda are common here and we had Stripe-tailed Yellow-finch Sicalis citrina beside the road.
  • Pirapora

    Satellite View
    Minas Gerais Tyrannulet Phylloscartes roquettei can be seen between Pirapora and Várzea da Palma. Just after the Km 11 sign, turn left onto a dirt road that leads to a sand dredger (draga) at Rio das Velhas. After 5km road the road crosses a small stream (Córrego dos Ovos). Look for the tyrannulet in the canopy of trees near the bridge and Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner Hylocryptus rectirostris in the understorey. Continuing along the same road, there is a farm yard. Fork left after the farm to some wetland. Fork right to get to the river, where at dusk there are many Bahian Nighthawks Chordeiles vieilliardi.
  • Serra do Caraça

    WebpageSatellite View
    The Caraça mountain ridge is a reservation located in the southern area of the Espinhaço mountain range, in the state of Minas Gerais. Fauna and flora are very diversified. Higher altitudes and fields with rocky outcrops display species endemic to the Espinhaço mountain range, such as Hyacinth Visorbearer, Gray-backed Tachuri & Pale-throated Serra-Finch. Within the forest, many typical Atlantic rain forest bird species can be observed, such as the Crescent-chested Puffbird, Serra Antbird, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and Brassy-breasted Tanager.
  • Daniel Mello

  • Jeremy Minns

    São Paulo | jeremyminns@uol.com.br

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 881

    (As at December 2018)
  • Number of endemics: 4

    There are four endemics: Hyacinth Visorbearer Augastes scutatus, Cipo Canastero Asthenes luizae, Cipo Cinclodes Cinclodes espinhacensis and the recently-rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-Dove Columbina cyanopis. There is also one near endemic the range of which only just crosses borders; the Minas Gerais Tyrannulet Phylloscartes roquettei
Museums & Universities
  • Universidade Federal de Lavras

  • Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

  • Universidade Federal de Uberl

  • Biodiversity Foundation

    R. Ludgero Dolabela, 1021 - 7o andar - Gutierrez - CEP 30430-130 Belo Horizonte - Minas Gerais - Brasil - Caixa Postal 1462 Tel: 0055-31-3292-8235 - Fax: 0055-31-3291-7658

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Caparaó

    InformationSatellite View
    Caparaó National Park is a national park created in 1961 to protect the Caparaó Mountains, located on the border between Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo states in Brazil. Pico da Bandeira, one of the highest mountains in Brazil, is located there.
  • NP Cavernas do Peruaçu

    InformationSatellite View
    The Cavernas do Peruaçu National Park, with an area of 56,448 hectares (139,490 acres), was created on 21 September 1999 and is administered by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.
  • NP Serra da Canastra

    InformationSatellite View
    Protected birds include the cock-tailed tyrant (Alectrurus tricolor), vinaceous-breasted amazon (Amazona vinacea), black-masked finch (Coryphaspiza melanotis), Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus), lesser nothura (Nothura minor) and the dwarf tinamou (Taoniscus nanus).[2] Other protected species include the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), cougar (Puma concolor), oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), colocolo (Leopardus colocolo), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and the frog Phyllomedusa ayeaye.
  • NP Serra do Cipó

    InformationSatellite View
    The park is classified as IUCN protected area category II (national park). It has the objectives of preserving natural ecosystems of great ecological relevance and scenic beauty, enabling scientific research, environmental education, outdoors recreation and eco-tourism.[2] Protected species include]] the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), cougar (Puma concolor), white-necked hawk (Buteogallus lacernulatus), the lizard Placosoma cipoense, the fish Characidium lagosantense and the butterfly Nirodia belphegor.
  • NR Caraça Natural Park

    InformationSatellite View
    The wild life sanctuary also has many bird species includesing antbirds, toucans, hummingbirds, guans, woodpeckers, tanagers, long-trained nightjars, cotingas, scissor-tailed nightjars and much more. Some of these bird species are endemic, while few are rare and even endangered ones that are protected safely by the forest reserve authority.
  • RPPN Mata do Sossego

    InformationSatellite View
    Mata Sossego is located in the most extensive and continuous preserved remnant of the Atlantic Forest between the towns of Simonésia and Manhuaçu (MG), 324 km from Belo Horizonte. Currently the PRNP is a core that allows the expansion of scientific studies in the area and strengthening regional participation, inter-institutional integration and encouraging environmentally sustainable practices to the formation of an ecological corridor between the RPPNs Mata Sossego in Simonésia and Feliciano Miguel Abdala, in Caratinga.…
  • SP Ibitipoca

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Ibitipoca State Park has area of 1,488 hectares (3,680 acres) and is situated 3 kilometres (1.9 miles). Entry to the park is charged and is limited to 300 visitors per day during the week and 800 at weekends and on holidays.
  • SP Itacolomi

    InformationSatellite View
    Its area is composed of regions of Atlantic Forest with rock outcrops in the highest portions. Besides its great scenic beauty, rich biodiversity and geo-diversity,
  • SP Rio Doce

    InformationSatellite View
    Rio Doce State Park covers 35,973 hectares and is located in the southeastern region of Brazil, the site is the largest fragment of the endangered Atlantic Rain Forest in Minas Gerais State. In addition to permanent and seasonal rivers, there are 42 natural lakes that represent 6% of the park surface. The site hosts 10 different habitats, 325 species of birds, and at least 77 mammals.
  • SP Rio Preto

    InformationSatellite View
    With a total area of ​​12184.3255 hectares, the protected area is home to several river sources, among which the Black River stands out. It is one of the most important tributaries of the Araçuaí, which in turn, is a tributary of the Rio Jequitinhonha. It has waterfalls, pools, rapids, canyon and river beaches with white sand. Endemic birds include the hyacinth visorbearer (Augastes scutatus), Cipo canastero (Asthenes luizae) and serra finch (Embernagra longicauda).[2] The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), masked water tyrant (Fluvicola nengeta) and grassland sparrow (Ammodramus humeralis) are also found. Mammals include endangered species such as the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) and ocelot (Leopardus pardalis).[1] Other mammals include cougar (Puma concolor) and deer. There are native species of fish, including the jundiá, discovered in Rio Preto and still poorly researched.
  • SP Serra do Brigadeiro

    InformationSatellite View
    The mission of the park is to protect the natural heritage of the Atlantic Rainforest in the Serra do Brigadeiro, whilst facilitating scientific research, education and ecotourism, and contributing towards the development of communities in the area.
  • SP Serra do Rola-Moça

    InformationSatellite View
    The Serra do Rola-Moça State Park is in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, divided between the municipalities of Belo Horizonte, Nova Lima, Ibirité and Brumadinho. It has an area of 3,941.09 hectares (9,738.6 acres). It contains six important springs that supply water to the city, and this area is closed to the public. The park provides a refuge for endangered fauna such as the cougar (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus) and solitary tinamou (Tinamus solitarius).
Trip Reports
  • 2011 [December] - Derek Kverno - Serra das Araras

    Following in the footsteps of many birders before us, Aimee and I made the pilgrimage to Serra das Araras to see the famous nesting site of the Harpy Eagle. This well-known eyrie has produced magnificent Harpy Eagle observations, and photographs, for several decades, although it
  • 2018 [07 July] - Ross Gallardy

    PDF Report
    This was a quick 8 day birding trip to the states of Rio and Minas Gerais concentrating on targets that cannot be found elsewhere in Brazil. Since I had birded NE Brazil in the past, the overall main target list was quite small, but a number of other SE Brazil specialties were possible that were not possible on my last trip. Overall we did very well seeing all of our main targets. We dipped a number of more “common” species, but those will be easier in the Sao Paulo area and were not a focus of the trip. Although we concentrated on a fairly “small” section of the country, the drives between locations are still quite far and in 8 days we drove 3997 kms! This is not a comprehensive trip report, but should provide some general logistics for visiting this section of Brazil as well as GPS coordinates for all the main endemics of the area.
Places to Stay
  • Accommodation
    Nice pictures - short on info
  • Chalé Cachoeira do Pulo AIR B&B - Carrancas

    A charming and cozy chalet located at the "Tira Prosa waterfalls", composed by four beautiful waterfalls with crystalline waters, ideal for bathing. In our backyard you can see many interesting bird species from the cerrado bioma, like Red-legged Seriema, Toco Toucan, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Pileated Finch, Great Pampa-Finch, and others birds visiting our birdfeeders.
  • Fazenda Hotel Itapuá - Monte Verde

    Existem pelo menos três boas razões para se hospedar na Fazenda Hotel Itapuá. A primeira é que ela está em Monte Verde, uma vila colocada entre as montanhas mais lindas do Brasil. A segunda é a fazenda completa, com lagos, vacas, cavalos e o dia-a-dia maravilhoso que uma verdadeira fazenda oferece. A terceira razão é o hotel impecável que funciona dentro desta fazenda. Fazer uma reserva na Fazenda Hotel Itapuá é garantir dias de paz, muita saúde, segurança e conforto.
  • Green Mountains Hotel - Monte Verde

    Basic contact details.
  • Pousada Rio Grande-A - Delfin

    The Rio Grandde
  • Pousada Solar da Ponte - Tiradentes

    Na antiga S
  • Pousada das Pedras - Monte Verde

    Em uma altitude de 1750 metros cercada de muitas montanhas, revestidas de verdes pinheirais, onde se descortina um lindo panorama. Seus chalés estão cercados de jardins sempre floridos. Somente 5 minutos nos separa do centrinho comercial, percorrido por estrada em processo de asfaltamento, o que significa sem poeira e sem barro.
  • Pousada dos Lobos - Itamonte

    Nas Terras Altas da Mantiqueira, escondida em um vale a quase 2000 metros de altitude, existe um lugar mágico, onde a harmonia do homem com a natureza é perfeita. Onde se escuta o silêncio. Onde os ventos que percorrem as florestas, os campos de altitude, cachoeiras, trilhas, vem nos trazer mensagens de paz energia. Este lugar chama-se POUSADA DOS LOBOS. Itamonte/Minas Gerais/ Brasil.
  • Rancho Cipo - Serra do Cipo

    Accommodation for nature lovers…
  • Vale Suíço Resort Hotel - Itapeva

Photographers & Artists
  • Claudio Greco Photo

    Nature and Bird Photography…

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content