South America has much to offer those who are interested in nature travel with the Brazilian Pantanal — the world's largest expanse of wetlands — holding particular esteem among the birdwatching crowd. Ranging between 54,000 and 75,000 square-miles, the Pantanal is home to a wealth of rare and beautiful animals, including more than 1,000 species of birds.
One of the more common species sighted in the region is the black-crowned night heron, a medium-sized bird that is easily distinguishable by its stark red eyes, black head and back markings and stubby, gnarled legs and feet. These birds might be easy to spot, as they typically stand motionless at the edge of water and wait to ambush prey that may swim into their line of sight.
Endangered species living within the region include the crowned solitary eagle, a large raptor distinguishable by its grey coloring and its short tail, and the hyacinth macaw, the largest flying parrot species in the world.
The species most indicative of the region, however, may be the jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), a large stork that has become something of a symbol for Pantanal over the years. The tallest flying bird in the region (some males can reach up to five feet in height), the jabiru stork boasts a mostly white body with a bald black head and neck.
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