Animals living close to human settlements more often experience disturbance, but also reduced predation risk. Because an escape response is costly, behavioural adjustments of animals in terms of increased tolerance of humans occurs and is often reported in the literature. However, most such studies have been conducted in and around long-existing cities in Europe and North America, on well-established animal populations. Here, we investigate the degree of tolerance of human disturbance across 132 bird species occurring in disturbed (small farms) and undisturbed (intact wetlands and grasslands) areas in Pantanal, Mato Grosso (Brazil), a region with only a very recent history of human-induced disturbance. We found a clear across-species trend toward higher tolerance of human disturbance in birds near farms when compared with birds in wild areas. Such a flexible and perhaps also rapid emergence of tolerance when facing small-scale and very recent human disturbance presumably involves learning and might be attributed to behavioural plasticity. The ability of birds to modify their degree of tolerance of human disturbance may play a key role in the facilitation of wildlife–human coexistence.