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Parque do Zizo, São Paulo, Brazil & Its Birds
By Alex Lees & Jeremy Minns
The Atlantic forest avifauna is a highly endangered community. 68% of the species are rare (Goerck, 1997) and future extinctions seem inevitable, considering that only 7% (>100,000 km2) of the original forest remains. (Brooks et al., 1999; Tabarelli et al., 2005). Protected areas established on private land thus represent an important tool for biodiversity preservation and without effective interaction with private landowners, conservationists will never succeed in protecting biodiversity to the full extent possible. (James, 2002). In Brazil, the establishment of Reservas Particulares do Patrimônio Natural (RPPNs) in areas of high conservation priority are of strategic importance for the implementation of corridors uniting the montane forests of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (the Serra do Mar Corridor). (Conservation International do Brasil et al., 2000; Fonseca et al., 2004).
The Parque do Zizo (lat: 24º00'56'', long: 47º48'44'') is one such example of a working RPPN. It is situated in the Serra de Paranapiacaba between the municipalities of São Miguel Arcanjo and Tapiraí in the south-east of São Paulo state. [Tapiraí is shown on the Guia Rodoviário; it is 63 km north of Juquiá on SP-079.] The park was established by the Balboni family as a memorial to their brother Luiz who was killed in 1969 when he took up arms against the military dictatorship.
The 400ha reserve forms part of a larger agglomeration of protected areas that serve to protect over 37,600ha of Atlantic Forest -- one of the most extensive blocks of forest in the entire region. (Ferraz & Verjabedian, 1999). The park's altitude varies between 500m and 800m, and the region experiences a humid-temperate climate, lacking a demarcated dry season. Mean rainfall throughout this area is approximately 1,720 mm/yr, with the wettest and the driest period of the year between December and March, and July and August, respectively. (São Paulo, 1972). The primary vegetation is tropical submontane closed-canopy rain forest. (Veloso et al., 1991).
The park has only recently been discovered by ornithologists and as such has not been extensively inventoried. This description is largely based on visits by Robert Planqué (November-December 2005), Luiz Fernando Figueiredo and members of the Centro de Estudos Ornitológicos (Jun 2005, Jan and Feb 2006), Minns (Feb 2006) and Minns & Lees (May 2006). These preliminary visits suggest that the avian community is similar to the heavily-inventoried forest at Intervales (50km to the southwest) over corresponding elevations. To date 26 Brazilian endemics have been recorded, including Saw-billed Hermit Ramphodon naevius, Dusky-throated Hermit Phaethornis squalidus, Crescent-chested Puffbird Malacoptila striata, Ochre-rumped Antbird Drymophila ochropyga, Squamate Antbird Myrmeciza squamosa, Black-cheeked Gnateater Conopophaga melanops, White-breasted Tapaculo Scytalopus indigoticus, Pale-browed Treehunter Cichlocolaptes leucophrus, Oustalet's Tyrannulet Phylloscartes oustaleti, Hooded Berryeater Carpornis cucullata and Cinnamon-vented Piha Lipaugus lanioides.
Salvadori's Antwren Myrmotherula minor, another Brazilian endemic, also occurs here. We observed a single male accompanying a mixed flock in typically epiphyte festooned riverine forest. This species has a small range and population size and occurs at only a few isolated localities; little habitat exists for it outside the reserves in which it occurs, many of which lack effective protection (Birdlife International, 2000).
Extensive stands of bamboo (Guadua angustifolia, Chusquea sp. and Merostachys sp) provide habitat for bamboo specialists such as Spotted Bamboowren Psilorhanmphus guttatus and White-bearded Antshrike Biatas nigropectus. The later is a Vulnerable restricted range near-endemic with a total occupied range-estimate of just 18,100km2. We found several territories in the extensive bamboo patches at Zizo, which along with Intervales State Park and Itatiaia National Park probably provide strongholds for this species. (BirdLife International, 2000). During our May 2006 visit, Uniform Finch Haplospiza unicolor was abundant; evidently our arrival had coincided with a mast-seeding year for Chusquea meyeriana (Olmos, 1996). We enjoyed several sightings of Mantled Hawks Leucopternis polionota aloft on sunny days: often in the company of one or more Black Hawk-eagles Spizaetus tyrannus.
The immediate vicinity of the pousada provides excellent opportunities for birding. A small feeding station regularly attracted various Tangara tanagers and also small groups of Olive-green Tanagers Orthogonys chloricterus, a species that is effectively endemic to the Atlantic Forest Mountains EBA. Other highlights around this little clearing during our last visit included an obliging Black-billed Scythebill Campylorhamphus falcularius and the ever-impressive Giant Antshrike Batara cinerea.
There is comfortable, if basic accommodation and good food, prepared personally by Francisco Balboni, one of the owners. To visit the park you must reserve in advance by email to guto at trattoria dot com. Detailed instructions on how to reach it are available on Arthur Grosset's website. The distance from São Paulo is 200 km and takes about three hours. By arrangement Francisco will pick visitors up in Sorocaba or Itapetininga (reachable by bus from São Paulo) or in São Paulo itself. All birding at Parque do Zizo is done on foot. You can learn more about the park at the Parque do Zizo website. [There is a trip report with photos on Charlie's Bird Blog.]
Alexander C. Lees
Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia, NORWICH NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
Rua Itápolis, 1570 01245-000 São Paulo, Brazil
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