Columbia has the distinct title of having more bird species than any other nation on earth. The country has nearly 20% of the world’s bird species; that is over 1900 species recorded. This number is expected to rise as more areas of the country opens up to birders. From the hardcore birders to beginners, this country has something for everyone. Amazing sceneries exist to experience birding, ranging from the jungles of Amazon to the mountains at the coast. To properly appreciate the bird diversity found here, we have compiled for you a list of some of the best birding spots.
The Cloud Forests of Los Nevados, Manizales
This region is rich in colorful avian. Río Blanco Nature Reserve, located here, is rated as one of the top three birding places in the world. Though visiting it is quite challenging, it is nonetheless worth it for a single reason: Antpittas. These birds are impossible to spot because they are shy and live on the ground but here, there are live-worm feeding stations where the five species of the birds can visit. This makes seeing them a guarantee. For trekking enthusiasts, Los Nevados National Natural Park and its surrounding provides an opportunity to see the rarest bird in the whole of Columbia, Fuertes parrot. Others are the Andean condor which is the world’s heaviest flying bird, the buffy helmetcrest, the rufous-fronted parakeet and the rainbow-bearded thornbill.
El Dorado Reserve and the San Lorenzo Ridge, Magdalena
Located high in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, Proaves El Dorado Bird Reserve and the San Lorenzo Ridge are widely regarded as mecca for birders. The area is surrounded by Columbia’s highest mountains with amazing views of the Caribbean. In it you can find various bird species such as the multi-coloured keel-billed toucans and numerous species of hummingbirds. Elusive birds such as the Santa Marta Antpitta and beautiful species like the Santa Marta Parakeet are endemic here. Others are the blue-billed currasow, the Andean Condor which happens to be Columbia’s national bird and the black-and-chestnut eagle that is threatened. No wonder the region has been recognized as having the world’s highest concentration of native birds. Due to its popularity, bilingual site experts are available to act as birding guides.
Los Flamencos, La Guajira
Found in the Caribbean coast is the Los Flamencos National Park, home to American flamingos and a variety of other species. For close-up views of the flamingos, a canoe trip will do the trick and with the photogenic birds on display, you will undoubtedly get to satisfy your birding desires. The canoe trip also provides an opportunity to see wood storks, scarlet ibises, reddish egrets and the roseate spoonbills. Some of the species have migrated from North America between November and April. The buffy hummingbirds, the vermilion cardinals that is quite striking and the elusive Tucuyo sparrows can be seen among the surrounding scrubs.
Jardin is a small town a few hours south of Medellin. The main reason that makes it a poplar birding destination is the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock communal courtship site (lek) that is found just outside the town. These iconic-looking species are notoriously difficult to spot outside a lek and the one located outside Jardin is by far the easiest spot to observe them. At dusk and dawn, they come in large numbers to perform their courtship display. In addition to this, the mountains above the town are a reserve for the yellow-eared parrots, one of the rarest birds in the world. They are so rare they were previously thought to be extinct.
Cerro Montezuma, Chocó
This is a birding lodge located in the Western Andes inside the Tatama National Park. It is the holy grail for the tropical birders as it is a hidden jewel. Here, several days of birding will yield a bountiful of sought-for species that you can tick off your list. The highlight is the gold-ringed tanager, an extremely rare bird limited by range which can be observed by simply strolling down the road. Others are black-and-gold tanagers, warblers and Chocó tapaculos.
The Amazon Jungle
The Amazon jungle is where the variety is. The Columbian Amazon is home to over 750 different species which is a third of the nation’s entire bird population. Amacayacu National Park alone hosts around 470 species that includes the hoatzin and the Amazonian umbrellabird. There are numerous river islands that provide home to great species such as the great black hawk, the osprey, cream-coloured woodpecker, bat falcon and numerous parrot species. The banks of the mighty Amazon river are populated with macaws, parakeets, antbirds and woodpeckers. Visiting Puerto Nariño gives one an opportunity to see various species of parrots.
While birding in this South American haven don't forget to record your observations.