Brazil was born in Worcestershire, England, and studied at Keele University, Staffordshire where he graduated with a double honours BA degree in Biology & English Literature in 1977. In 1981 he received his Ph.D. from Stirling University, Scotland for his thesis The behavioural ecology of the Whooper Swan. He worked for many years with Japanese natural history television (NHK Science) and then Television New Zealand (TVNZ) and Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ). He has also worked for various other television companies, including the BBC and BBC Radio, as a scientific advisor. From 1998 to 2007 he was professor of Biodiversity and Conservation at Rakuno Gakuen University, Hokkaido. Since 2007 he has been a freelance natural history and travel writer, an editor of scientific papers, and a frequent leader of international expeditions for Zegrahm Expeditions.
He was previously scientific advisor/researcher for Natural History Television New Zealand; currently: author, editor, lecturer and expedition leader.
Brazil was the author of the "Wild Watch" column for The Japan Times newspaper from April 1982 to March 2015, the longest running single-author natural history column in any newspaper. He has been writer in residence for JapanVisitor.com since June 2011.
- 1987: A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan, Kodansha America ISBN 0-87011-849-8
- 1991: The Birds of Japan, Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd ISBN 0-7136-8006-7
- 2000: Wild Asia: Spirit of a Continent, Pelican Publishing ISBN 1-56554-827-2
- 2003: The Whooper Swan, ISBN 0-7136-6570-X
- 2009: Birds of East Asia, Helm Field Guides series, A&C Black ISBN 978-0-7136-7040-0
- 2013: The Nature of Japan: From Dancing Cranes to Flying Fish, Japan Nature Guides.
- 2015: Pocket Guide to the Common and Iconic Birds of Japan, Japan Nature Guides.
- 2015: Pocket Guide to the Common and Iconic Mammals of Japan, Japan Nature Guides.
- 2018: Birds of Japan, Helm Field Guides series, A&C Black
Has also published numerous papers, magazine and newspaper articles in the fields of science, natural history and travel.