Both hard-core and amateur birders will literally have a field day in Brazil . Not only is Brazil home to a fantastic diversity of winged creatures, but the riotous colors of their plumages are as spectacular as a Carnaval desfile (parade). In the Amazon  and Atlantic rainforests and, in particular, the Pantanal  you’ll have plenty of opportunities to be awestruck by the Technicolor hues of ararás (macaws) and papagaios (parrots).
Measuring around 90 centimeters (35 inches), macaws are the largest and most exhibitionistic of these birds. They can often be found in pairs, usually making quite a ruckus. The arará vermelha (scarlet macaw) is perhaps the most magnificent of all, its deep crimson face offset by brilliant blue and green wings. In addition to the Amazon and the Pantanal, it inhabits the Cerrado, as does the no-less-impressive arará-canindé (blue-and-yellow macaw), whose bright turquoise head and back contrast with a golden chest.
Unfortunately, their beauty makes them a hot commodity on the illegal animal-trafficking circuit. In fact, poaching is responsible for the near extinction of the arará-azul (hyacinth macaw), which at 1 meter (3.3 feet) is the largest parrot on the planet. Once endemic throughout the Pantanal, today there are less than 3,000 of these birds. Their rich indigo feathers and yellow ringed eyes are astonishingly beautiful. Fortunately, the Projeto Arara Azul (www.projetoararaazul.org.br ), whose headquarters is also in the Pantanal, is committed to the study and protection of these birds.
Other striking avian species are tucanos (toucans), who can be found in various forest habitats throughout Brazil. Residing in treetops where they can easily feast on fruit, these cartoon-like creatures are easily recognizable by their enormous, brightly colored bills (which are often as large as their bodies). Although the bills appear as if they would weigh the birds down, they consist of a spongy substance that is lighter than Styrofoam.
Wherever you travel in Brazil, you’re bound to see plenty of garças (herons), cegonhas (storks), and other large, elegantly long-legged water birds. Two particularly unforgettable specimens are the bright red guará (scarlet ibis) and the tuiuiú, a tall stork. The bright crimson finery of the guará is often on display on Ilha de Marajó, Pará , and in Alcântara, in Maranhão . Meanwhile, the tuiuiú is the Pantanal’s unofficial mascot, measuring 1.5 meters (5 feet), with an ebony head and a slender pink neck.
Among the various species of birds of prey, which include falcons, hawks, and eagles, the fiercest and most regal is the águia real (harpy eagle), an Amazonian bird that feasts on monkeys and other small prey.
In terms of size, Brazil can claim to possess both the largest and smallest birds in the Americas. The ema (rhea) is an ostrich-like flightless bird that can grow to the height of 1.5 meters (5 feet) and weigh 35 kilograms (77 pounds). In a metrosexual twist, male emas are not only responsible for building nests and incubating the giant eggs, but for raising the young chicks as well.
Meanwhile, along with Ecuador, Brazil has the world’s largest variety of tiny beija-flores (hummingbirds)—the Portuguese name means “flower kisser.” These tiny iridescent birds, which can measure as little as 6 centimeters (2.3 inches) and weigh only 2 grams (0.07 ounce), can be seen fluttering their aerodynamic wings throughout the country, including in cities where people often put out feeders for them. They drink up to five times their weight in nectar each day.