On the subsequent pages we will be mentioning some of the bird species that
inhabit the forests of the Iguazú National Park. Their choice doesnot follow any particular criterion, having been selected in somecases for their colourful plumage, in others for belonging in the Atlantic Forest, or because they are difficult to find in other sites.In some instances, however, they have been included for their presence in high numbers, or simply because, according to the author's opinion, they ought to be mentioned. Their choice does not take into consideration any of the usual taxonomical references, their preference rather obeying the species distribution in the forest.
The skies over the Iguazú National Park should be constantly watched. In the jungle, birds of prey are difficult to see. It is therefore important to be attentive to what happens above our heads. Swallow-tailed Kite, Grey-headed Kite, Black-and-white Hawk-eagle and Great Black Hawk can all be observed. King Vulture can be seen soaring, either with other vulture species, or on their own.
The highest and leafiest tree crowns are preferred by many birds, such as a number of tyrants: Black-tailed Tityra, Black-crowned Tityra, Sirystes, Variegated Fflycatcher, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Eared Pygmy-tyrant as well as various elaenia species often extremely difficult to identify, particularly when seen at such heights. It is here that the expertise of our guide, who knows their different calls and songs, comes into play. But we must not forget the inevitable Tropical Parula, always present in those leafy altitudes.
There are two species of birds who, by their character and size, stand out in this stratum. Both move around in flocks. One is the Red-rumped Cacique, who accompanies his every action with noisy calls and rapid movements. Other birds tend to disappear when this one arrives. The other is the Plush-crested Jay, although more quiet, despite having a highly varied range of calls. It is thought to be highly intelligent. They team up and are feared by other birds as they raid nests in search of eggs and chicks.
There are some antbirds that also prefer this range, such as the Rufous-winged Antwren, the Streak-capped Antwren, and the reclusive Spot-backed Antshrike.
High up in dead trees we may also find Long-tailed Tyrant and Three-striped Flycatcher, as well as some puffbirds, and of course woodpeckers, among them the Yellow-fronted, White-spotted, Blond-crested or the magnificent Robust Woodpecker with its unmistakable drumming.
A little lower down, various woodcreepers move about on tree trunks.Notorious for its size and formidable beak is the White-throated Woodcreeper, and rare but doubtlessly well adapted to rummage in the bark crevices is the Black-billed Scythebill.
A multitude of birds moves around in the intermediate stratum. Here, mixed flocks will be searching for and finding their food. Various foliage-gleaners and euphonias will be among them, also a number of incredibly colourful tanagers, tirelessly and continuously moving up and down, sometimes making use of various strata and feeding among epiphytes and scavenging in the bark of the trees.
Both the Black-throated Trogon and the Surucuá Trogon are much more passive, the first being more timid, and both very beautiful.
One bird which without doubt will surprise us is the remarkable Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, with its posture, its contrasting colours, and its large size, which makes it the largest of the passerines.
Sometimes the low stratum is very dense, covered in bamboo thickets. This is the environment which many birds prefer, such as Bertoni's Antbird, and antshrikes, such as the Tufted or the rare Large-tailed.Here they move around stealthily and, although they sing continuously and are very close to the observer, it is very difficult to see them. The same occurs with the ghostlike Spot-backed Antshrike, which moves between the various strata but always where vegetation is densest, and the jungle at its darkest. Other birds at this level are the Grey-bellied and the Rufous-capped Spinetails, as well as a few small tyrants who also like this environment, among them the Ochre-faced Tody-tyrant and the Drab-breasted Pygmy-tyrant.Southern Antpipit and White-throated Spadebill prefer the low stratum too, although not always the dense bamboo thickets.
Finally, there's the forest floor, where we identify its birds by their voices but which we rarely manage to see. We find the Short-tailed Antthrush among them, as well as the Speckle-breasted Antpitta, and the Rufous-breasted Leaftosser. The latter turns over the leaves on the forest floor in search for insects. With much luck, the tinamous, such as the Brown, and the Small-billed, can sometimes be seen here.
There are some birds in the Iguazú National Park whose habitat is not exactly the jungle, but which we will frequently find in small clearings or at the forest edge. Here we can mention the Red-crested Finch, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Lesser Seed-finch, Masked Yellow-throat, and Ultramarine Grosbeak. A number of seedeaters also prefer this environment.
At dusk, new songs reveal the presence of further birds. There is the Barred Forest-falcon, and the Collared Forest-falcon, both discovered only by their song. They are silent bird hunters. Their long tails and rounded wings allow them sudden manoeuvres in the dense growth of the forest.
This is the time of day when various birds prefer to announce themselves. The Rufous Motmot and Ferruginous Pygmy Owl do it from tree tops. The Solitary Tinamou and the Spot-winged Wood-quail feel comfortable on the forest floor.
Daylight has nearly gone, when a dark silhouette of pointed wings moves rapidly and in zigzag flight, like a bat, hunting insects on the wing, opening its gigantic mouth, assisted by its bristles. It is a nighthawk, and there is only one like it: the Chestnut-banded Nighthawk.
Now night has fallen. It is the time when predators stalk their prey, and most of the birds have gone to roost. Now, the Common Potoo can be heard calling sadly and eerily; which reminds us that it is time for us to rest too, for tomorrow there will be many more birds to see.