New E-Book To Support Golden Conure Conservation!

As regular readers know, I am passionate about birds and the Golden Conure is one of my all-time favourite species.  In 2012, I was lucky enough to see them in the wild in their natural habitat in Brazil.  Recently, I was invited by Pompom – the leader of the Golden Conures International Facebook group to contribute an article about my trip to this wonderful project.  She assembled a dedicated group of writers from all over the world – all of whom donated their chapters so that all the proceeds from this book could go to the World Parrot Trust’s Golden Conure Survival Fund.   Mine is Chapter 16:  Goldens at the End of the Rainbow.

The e-book is being sold by Pocketmags which goes by several other names depending on where in the world you are located. – UK & Europe – Australia – Canada & USA

You will need to create an account with Pocketmags before ordering.  Once you pay for the book via credit card or Paypal, the book will be stored in your account and you will need to access it via the account.  This protects the copyright of the book.

Link to order this e-book

GC book1Don’t be confused by the Avizandrum 12 issues per year thing.  The book is being published by the same folks in South Africa who publish this monthly avicultural magazine.  You will only get one e-book, it’s not a monthly thing.   The currency will probably default to your home country’s currency, I was charged in AUD.


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This was the confusing part as I was not familiar with this online publishing company.  In some ways, it is kind of like the Kindle for PC app.

The book will appear in your account.  When you click on the “READ” button, you can choose which online e-reader you want to use.  They have a Silverlight or a Flash reader but you must be online to use them.

If you are using an iPad or other tablet, there are several apps available.

Lastly, most people will want to be able to read the book offline.  This works similar to Kindle for PC.  You download their reader here.

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Once you install the program, you log into it with your Pocketmags details and it will prompt you to download the e-book.  This will take awhile as it’s a large file.  You will then be able to read the book offline at your convenience.

GC book4Enjoy the book and please tell your friends.  You can learn more about Golden Conures and support them in the wild at the same time!

Some Avian Delights Of Amazonia

To finish off my series about Amazonia National Park, I’d like to show you some of the beautiful birds you can see there.  Since we didn’t have a car, we could only bird in the immediate vicinity of Urua.  Gilberto took us on the Acaizal Trail which is a challenging 4.5 km hike up and down slippery slopes.  The main target bird here is the Vulturine Parrot (Pyrilia vulturina), but we didn’t have any luck.  This species seems to be quite a challenge as other birders have had trouble too.  You can check out this trip report starting from 1 August for another perspective.  But sometimes there is success as you can see from Bradley Davis’ (Birding Mato Grosso) trip report from a few years ago!  He did quite well with the Acaizal Trail!  Maybe you will too!

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The best birding in our case was also the easiest, right around the Urua guard post.  Although I am far from being a good photographer, even I get lucky sometimes and captured some good birds in flight shots!  The one thing you learn when you become a birder, don’t regret the birds you didn’t get to see, be happy for the ones you did see and also be happy that your presence is helping to keep them safe in their homes!

Enjoy the photos!

M03 M05 M07 M08 M09 M11 M12 M13 M23 M24 M28 M34 M35 M46 M47 M48 M50 M59 M62 M63 M65 M66 M67 M70 M71 M72 M82 M91 M93 M94 M95 M97 M99 N01 N03 N04 N05 N06 N07 N13 N16 N20 N22 N24 N25 N26 N27 Q04


How To Visit Amazonia National Park (Parque Nacional da Amazônia)

To recap previous posts that show you how to get here:  First you need to get to Brazil.  Most people will either originate or transit the USA and enter Brazil at Manaus if this park is their final destination.  From Manaus, fly to Santarem, then get a boat to Itaituba.  Visit IBAMA in Itaituba and get your permit.

The red dot is Urua, where you will be staying.

So now we are in Itaituba, ready to visit Amazonia National Park (Parque Nacional da Amazônia)!  If you are interested in seeing Golden Conures, you will need a good guide and I can heartily recommend Gilberto Nascimiento Silva who is one of the park rangers.  He and the other park rangers are based at Urua which is about a 2 hour drive from Itaituba.  The best option is to hire a car which is what I had planned to do but didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to outside of business hours.  A car will give you more options to visit different trails within the park and also to drive to a village to buy more food if you wish.

Without a car, your options are bus or taxi.  There is a Jacareacanga-bound  bus at around 10 or 11 am but if you don’t want to wait, you can get a taxi for R$150.  We had to try a couple times to persuade taxi drivers to go out there and they weren’t quite sure how to get there.  Finally we found one and negotiated the price.  We already had park permits via email and had to stop at IBAMA so the staff could explain to the taxi how to get there. To get back, there is supposed to be a bus around 2pm, if we had waited we would have missed the speedboat to Santarem so hitched with a local couple and paid them the bus fare of R$25 each.  Gilberto spoke to the driver and arranged this for us.



Initially reluctant, the taxi driver seemed to enjoy the park and hung around for an hour after driving us there.

Sadly, you will see deforestation in action enroute as they are trying to enlarge the road.

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Accommodations at Urua are very simple.  If you are a backpacker you will be fine but if you are used to luxury lodges of the Pantanal, you may be in for a surprise.  As of Sept 2012, there was no cost to stay in the bunkhouse as long as you have a permit.  The only cost is paying the ranger, Gilberto to guide you for R$50 per visit.  This is a fixed price, no need to bargain.  You will need to bring all your food and drinks with you from Itaituba.  There is nothing for sale in the park or within walking distance.

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There are cooking facilities but no fridge.  If they have room, the rangers will put your water bottle in their fridge so you have cold water after hiking around.  It gets very hot and humid there, mosquitoes are everywhere so bring coils and repellent.  Malaria is present in the Amazon region though luckily we didn’t get it.  The generator operates for a couple hours around lunch time and again from 5-8pm so you can charge your batteries.  There are posters on the wall with some of the local wildlife and Gilberto has the excellent Avifauna Brasiliera guidebook.  He doesn’t speak English but he is happy to point out the photos in the book of the species you see so you can make note of them.

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There is a lookout over the Tapajos River and it’s an excellent place to sit and watch for birds.  We saw large flocks of White-eyed Conures, a few Festive Amazons, Santarem Conures, Short-tailed Parrots and a Painted Parakeet.  Also lots of toucans!  More about the birds on the next post in this series so stay tuned!

Ina (my husband), me and Gilberto

Ina (my husband), me and Gilberto






Itaituba – Gateway To Amazonia National Park (Parque Nacional da Amazônia)

The first thing I want you to know about Itaituba is don’t arrive there on a weekend!  It was too late for me to reschedule as I had Cristalino booked for specific days and it was sold out so I couldn’t change it.  Don’t count on being able to change money here or the ATMs accepting foreign cards, bring cash from Manaus, Santarem or elsewhere.  The 3 most important things you need to do in Itaituba are:

  • 1.  Get a permit from IBAMA to visit Amazonia National Park.
  • 2.  Stock up on food to take out there.
  • 3.  Preferably hire a car as transport there is very limited.

I got lucky and a new birding friend helped me get the permit in advance from IBAMA but that person has transferred out from the Itaituba office and is no longer around to help.

Itaituba can be reached by plane from Manaus or Santarem on Azul, by bus from Mato Grosso or by boat from Santarem.

Map of Itaituba

In this map, the “A” in the bubble is the IBAMA office.  You can see the jetty where the ferry from Miritituba will drop you if you arrive by bus.  There are a couple supermarkets within a block of the jetty.  The red dot with the arrow is Juliana Park Hotel which is your best bet if you get stuck in Itaituba overnight.


Av. Mal. Rondon, s/n. Aeroporto Velho. Itaituba – PA. (IBAMA/ Parque Nacional da Amazônia).  (93) 3518-4519

Any taxi can take you there.  You will need your passport, maybe an extra photocopy and it wouldn’t hurt to bring some passport photos just in case.  The permit was free in 2012.  They are open M-F “business hours” so plan to get there before 4pm.


Chicão: (93) 3518-7199  or  (93) 9976-5214
J. Farias – (93) 3518-1055
Jacy Car – (93) 3518-3025
The estimate is R$100 per day, you will probably need insurance on top of that.  They were closed by the time we got there since our bus was late and we didn’t get to town until 4:30ish.  It would seem that car hire companies are closed on Sundays too.  We didn’t try to book in advance due to the language difficulties.


There are small supermarkets in the area near the jetty where you can get very basic goods.  Although the guards at Urua have limited refrigeration for their own use, don’t count on them being able to store your perishables.  We bought tinned goods like cocktail sausages, corned beef and other items like rice, Ramen noodles, biscuits/cookies and water.  You can boil water when you are there if you can’t carry too many bottles of water.  There are larger supermarkets called Duvalle and Tradição but they are further away.  Looking back, I wish we had made the effort to go there for a better selection of goods.


With luck, you will be able to arrive in Itaituba, get your permit, do your shopping and get straight out to the park.  If you do get stuck here overnight, the Juliana Park is a small, clean budget hotel.  Here is a snippet on hotels from the Bradt Guide which is all I could find online.  It’s a bit out of date but I agreed with their assessment of Juliana Park and can add that the WIFI is free and really helped trying to communicate with the manager using Google Translate back and forth.


From Itaituba to Amazonia National Park, we could have taken a bus at around 10 or 11 am but wanted to get there early for birding so took a taxi for R$150. Even though we already had the park permits we still had to stop at IBAMA so the staff could explain to the taxi how to get there.
To get back, there is supposed to be a bus around 2pm, if we had waited we would have missed the speedboat to Santarem so hitched with a local couple and paid them the bus fare of R$25 each.  Our guide at Urua, Gilberto helped us get the lift.

Golden Conure AKA Queen Of Bavaria Conure AKA Ararajuba (Guaruba guarouba)

This week, I would like to introduce you to my all-time favourite bird.   In their native land, Brazil; they are known as Ararajuba.  The Golden Parakeet or Golden Conure, (Guaruba guarouba), formerly classified as (Aratinga guarouba),is a species of Neotropical parrot. Sometimes known as the Queen of Bavaria Conure, it is the only species (monotypic) in the genus Guaruba.

Its plumage is mostly bright yellow, hence its common name, but it also possesses green remiges.  It lives in the drier, upland rainforests in Amazonian Brazil, and is threatened by deforestation and flooding, and also by the now-illegal trapping of wild individuals for the pet trade.  It is an endangered species listed on CITES appendix I.


Mature pair of Golden Conures at the Emilio Goeldi Zoo in Belem

Juvenile Golden Conure at the Emilio Goeldi Zoo in Belem

Juvenile Golden Conure at the Emilio Goeldi Zoo in Belem

Flock of wild Golden Conures in Amazonia National Park

Flock of wild Golden Conures in Amazonia National Park

Getting to see them in the wild is no easy feat!  Their range is in a very remote area of Brazil and there are no eco-lodges or established eco-tourism in the area.  The full story of my journey to see them can be seen in the April 2013 issue of Flock Talk by the World Parrot Trust.  Scroll down and click on the PDF.  The World Parrot Trust also has a species profile on this beautiful bird.  At the end of this series, I will upload the text from this article written by myself with more photos and hyperlinks to all the posts I am doing to show you how to do this trip for yourself.

This is the range of Golden Conures as shown on Golden Conure Survival Fund. (For those who are curious, I did get a glimpse of a Hawkheaded Parrot at Cristalino).