Brazil’s rich biological and cultural diversity makes it an exceptional location for examining the commerce in live wild birds and its implications for conservation. This paper catalogues the live bird species being traded in Brazil, characterises the trade in these animals, and discusses the implications for avian conservation. In spite of being illegal, capturing and selling birds is still a very common practice in Brazil and involves many actors who make up part of a large commercial network that distributes wild animals to every corner of the country. Our survey revealed that at least 295 bird species are illegally sold as pets in Brazil, with estimates derived from this data pointing to a total of more than 400 species - about 23% of the number of extant bird species in the country. Of the bird species recorded, two were classified as “Critically Endangered”, nine as “Endangered”, six as “Vulnerable”, and 19 as “Near Threatened” according to the most recent IUCN Red List. Most of the species recorded in this study as being widely bought and sold (including on the international market) are not listed by CITES even though many of them are in fact threatened. In light of the widespread illegal trade in wild birds in Brazil and the conservation implications for the species involved, there is an urgent need for actions that can control these activities. Steps should be taken to address the illegal traffic directly and these must include monitoring, law enforcement, effective sentencing (including deterrent sentences), targeting end-users, captive breeding, and education at all levels, taking into account the cultural, economic, social, and ecological aspects of the human populations involved.