Colombia: Birders paradise

Thanks to its wide variety of landscapes and weathers, Colombia is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the planet. Moreover, according to the experts, Colombia is the Country with the highest number of bird species in the world with more than 1,800 native and migratory species.

If you are into birding (also known as bird-watching) you might be interested on the following list of some of the rare bird species found in Colombia:

  • The Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icteroits),
  • The White mantled Barbet (Capito hypoleucus),
  • The Chesnut-capped Piha (Lipaugus weberi),
  • The Dusky Starfrontlet (Coeligen orina),
  • The White –eared Jamacar (Galbalcyrhynchus leucotis),
  • The Norturnal Curassow (Nothocrax urumutum),
  • The Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis),
  • The Zimmer`s Woodpecker (Xiphorhynchus Kienerii),
  • The Baudó Oropendola (Psarocolious cassini),
  • The Baudó Guan (Penelope ortini),
  • The Sooty-capped Puffbird (Bucco noanamae),
  • The Sapphire-bellied Humminird (Lepidopyga lilliae),
  • The Santa Marta Antpitta (Grallaria bangsi),
  • The Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus),
  • The Santa Marta Parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata).
The Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icteroits)

The Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icteroits). Image Copyright Phil Yates – http://www.pjayphotos.com

White Mantled Barbet

White Mantled Barbet (Capito hypoleucus). Image Copyright Phil Yates – http://www.pjayphotos.com

The high diversity of birds has driven important conservation initiatives in Colombia. Today, the Country has around 116 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) to protect and conserve inhabiting bird species that can be visited, making Colombia a true paradise and a great destination for birders.

Unfortunately, We at Uncover Colombia are not birding experts yet. Nevertheless, we want to promote the fact that Colombia is a great destination for birding and we can also provide the  birders among our readers with a list of the natural parks and main spots for birding in Colombia. We trust this is a good starting point if you are planning to visit Colombia on a birding expedition.

The Andean region:

This is the most populated region in the country, characterised by its diverse topography given by the Andes. The three branches of the Andes: Central, Eastern and Western, crossing the country from South to North, create a dramatic mix of sceneries including high snow-capped mountains, large highland plateaus, deep canyons and wide valleys. The weather of the region varies from 8oC to 36oC depending on the altitude which goes from 600 metres up to 3000 metres. The Andean region accommodates about 807 species of birds, from which around 46  are endemic or close to endemic.

Andean Toucanet

Andean Toucanet. Image Copyright Phil Yates – http://www.pjayphotos.com

Some places for birding in the Andean region are:

Cordillera Central (Central Andes):

  • Río Blanco Nature Reserve (IBA), Municipality of Manizales, Department of Caldas
  • Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (IBA), Municipality of Pereira, Department of Risaralda
  • Arrierito Antioqueño Nature Reserve, Municipality of Anorí, Department of Antioquia
  • Los Nevados National Park, Departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Tolima
  • Yotoco Protected Forest Reserve (IBA), Municipality of Yotoco, Department of Valle del Cauca

Cordillera Oriental (Eastern Andes):

  • Chingaza National Park (IBA) , Departments of Cundinamarca and Meta
  • La Florida District Regional Park (IBA), Bogotá, Department of Cundinamarca
  • Chicaque Nature Reserve (IBA), Municipality San Antonio del Tequendama, Department of Cundinamarca
  • La Conejera Wetland (IBA), Bogotá, Department of Cundinamarca
  • Pedro Palo Lake, Municipality of Tena, Department of Cundinamarca
  • Rogitama Nature Reserve, Municipality of Arcabuco, Department of Boyacá
  • Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve(IBA) , San Vicente de Chucurí, Department of Santander
Chingaza Natural Park

Chingaza Natural Park

Cordillera Occidental (Western Andes):

  • El Refugio Nature Reserve (IBA), Municipality of Dagua, Department of Valle del Cauca
  • Colibrí del Sol Bird Reserve, Municipality of Urrao, Department of Antioquia
  • Forest of Jardín (IBA), Municipality of Jardín, Department of Antioquia
  • Munchique National Park (IBA), Department of Cauca
  • Serranías de los Paraguas (IBA), Departments of Choco and Valle del Cauca
  • Tatamá National Park (IBA), Department of Risaralda
  • El Pangán Natural Reserve (IBA), Department of Nariño

Valle del Magdalena (Magdalena Valley):

  • Puracé National Park (IBA), Departments of Cauca and Huila
  • Cueva de los Guácharos (IBA), Palestina and Acevedo, Department of Huila
  • Tatacoa Desert, Municipality of Villavieja, Department of Huila
  • Río Claro Nature Reserve, Municipality of San Francisco, Department of Antioquia
  • El Paujil Nature Reserve (IBA), Puerto Boyacá, Department of Boyacá
  • Municipality of La Victoria (IBA), Department of Caldas
  • Río Manso Nature Reserve, Municipality of Norcasia, Department of Caldas
Puracé National Park (IBA), Departments of Cauca and Huila

Puracé National Park (IBA), Departments of Cauca and Huila

The Pacific region:

This region is one of the wettest and more biodiverse areas in the world. The rainforest is the main ecosystem but there are also spectacular mangroves and beaches. It is the only region in Colombia with access to two seas; the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and it is a main migratory corridor for fauna. It has about 650 species of birds.

Some of the hotspots for birding in this region are:

  • Utria National Park (IBA), Department of Chocó
  • Municipality of San Cipriano, Department of Valle del Cauca
  • BioTopo Nature Reserve, Municipality of Barbacoas, Department of Nariño
  • El Morro, Municpality of Tumaco, Department of Nariño
  • Uramba Bahía Malaga National Park, Department of Valle del Cauca
Utria National Park

Utria National Park

The Amazon region:

The Amazon is the largest tropical rainforest in the world and one of the most important areas of biodiversity. Colombia shares this region with Brazil and Peru. Besides the richness of flora and fauna in this region, its main treasure is the great number of indigenous communities who still live in the area.

There is a great number of bird species in this region (around 900). Some hotspots for birding in this region are:

  • Amacayacu National Park (IBA), Department of Amazonas
  • Isla de los Micos, Department of Amazonas
  • Tanimboca Nature Reserve, Department of Amazonas
  • Municipality of Mitú, Department of Vaupés

The Caribbean:

This region is mostly a flat area located at sea level. However, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the tallest snow peak near the sea with 5,775 meters of altitude, gives to this region a magical environment and a mixture of ecosystems: Tropical forest, Andean and Sub-Andean forest, and snow ecosystems.

There are about 700 bird species including a number of endemics registered within this region. Some of the best spots for birding in this region are:

  • Tayrona National Park (IBA), Department of Magdalena
  • Cuchilla San Lorenzo (IBA), buffer zone of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, Department of Magdalena
  • Los Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (IBA), Department of La Guajira
  • Isla Salamanca National Park (IBA), Department of Atlántico
  • Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, Department of Magdalena
  • Los Besotes Ecopark (IBA), Municipality of Valledupar, Department of Cesar
  • Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (IBA), Departments of Bolivar and Cesar
  • Tarcunas Nature Reserve (IBA), Municipality of Acandí, Chocó
  • Prake Agua Viva Nature Reserve (IBA), Municipality of Acandí, Chocó
Cuchilla San Lorenzo (IBA), buffer zone of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

Cuchilla San Lorenzo (IBA), buffer zone of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

Sanctuary Los Flamencos, La Guajira, Colombia

Los Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, La Guajira, Colombia

The Orinoquia:

The Orinoquia is the Eastern region of Colombia and it is commonly called “The Plains”. It is also one of the most unexplored areas of the country and has a great variety of ecosystems such as sub-Andean forest, flooded savannas, marshes and morichales, the Guyanan sheld and the lowland forest of the Serrania de La Macarena

In these region the dry and rainy seasons are very notable and the flora and fauna show an amazing adaptability to both. There are about 800 bird species.

Some spots for birding in this region are:

  • Sierra de la Macarena National Park (IBA), Municipality of La Macarena, Department of Meta
  • El Tuparro National Park (IBA), Department of Vichada
  • Bojonawi Nature Reserve, Municipality of Puerto Carreño, Department of Vichada
  • Matarredonda and Rey Zamurro Nature Reserves, Municipality of San Martin, Department of Meta
  • Hato La Aurora Nature Reserve, Municipalities of Hato Corozal and Paz de Ariporo, Department of Casanare.
Sierra de la Macarena National Park (IBA), Municipality of La Macarena, Department of Meta

Sierra de la Macarena National Park (IBA), Municipality of La Macarena, Department of Meta

As you can see, as birder you would be spoiled for choice in Colombia.

We do not have a birding tour yet in our portfolio but we are considering creating one in the future.

Would this be something people like?

We’d love to read your comments.

Also, Have you been to Colombia on a birding expedition?

Make sure you leave your comments below.

The Uncover Colombia team

We would like to thank Mr. Phil Yates for allowing us to use his wonderful wildlife photographs in this article. You can see more of Phil’s work at his website: www.pjayphotos.com 

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