November 20, 2018, 7:48 pm
In case you didn’t know (although it’s not as if we haven’t mentioned it a hundred times!), Colombia is the No. 1 country on earth for birds: with over 1,900 species recorded, there are more birds to see in Colombia than any other country on the planet.
And the best part of all of it is you don’t even have to venture too far from the cities to see some remarkable species of birds, including neotropical specialities and endemics. Bogotá itself is a wonderful birding base, so here’s our guide to the best birding sites in and around the Colombian capital:
La Florida and the Humedales
Bogotá used to be a huge area of lakes and marshland, and this aquatic legacy still lives on in several key reserves dotted around the city. The key site in Bogotá is La Florida, a small nature reserve located on the western edge of the city past the airport. With a large area of reedbeds, this reserve is home to several extremely endangered and range-limited endemic species: visitors can spot the endemic Bogotá Rail, Silvery-throated Spinetail and Apolinar’s Wren, as well as the shy and hard-to-see Subtropical Doradito. The lake itself is home to Spot-flanked Gallinule and Andean Duck. The other humedales are perhaps less birdy than La Florida, but a morning at Conejera or Cordoba is a great way to spot one of Colombia’s largest owls: the magnificent Striped Owl. Who knew the concrete jungle held such endemic and rare treasures, eh?!
Located about 1.5 hours south of the city, the cloud forest park of Chicaque is a real birder’s paradise, and with a comfortable lodge and excellent facilities, is just a lovely place to spend a weekend. A plethora of hummingbird species can be seen here, including the rare and endemic Black Inca, and the remarkable Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (for me, the most beautiful hummingbird in Colombia). The lodge balcony is the best place to observe colourful tanager species, including the spectacular Beryl-spangled and Flame-faced Tanagers, whilst a walk through the jungle will usually yield sightings of Green-and-black Fruiteater, Emerald Toucanet, and the near-endemic Moustached Brushfinch. Lucky observers can also spot wild sloths!
Sumapaz and Chingaza paramos
With two of Colombia’s most important paramo ecosystems located a couple of hours from the capital, there’s no excuse for birders not to get out and explore one of Colombia’s most varied and vital bird habitats. Chingaza is home to a small number of Andean Condors and is also a great place to spot wild Spectacled Bears, and both paramos are home to wonderful endemic species such as Brown-breasted Parakeet, Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Bogotá Rail and Apolinar’s Wren, as well as near-endemic specialities like Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Coppery-bellied Puffleg and Blue-throated Starfrontlet. These wild landscapes are some of Colombia’s least-known national parks, yet are also some of the best birding sites in the country.
Bogotá might not seem at first glance like the best place to base yourself for a birding tour in Colombia, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth: a dedicated birder could happily spend at least a week birding in and around Bogotá and rack up a species list well into the hundreds, with around 10 endemic species seen. Not bad for one of Colombia’s least well-understood birding regions?!
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