Colombia: Central Andes & Santa Marta Mountains TBC

With the highest national list in the world and over 80 endemic species, Colombia offers some fantastic birding opportunities and on this new exciting itinerary, we plan to visit some of the best reserves in the country on our quest to find an amazing selection of endemics and special species.

We will start in the Central Andes with a visit to the Otún-Quimbaya reserve where we hope to find the highly endangered Cauca Guan, a turkey sized endemic which was only rediscovered in the 1990s. Other possibilities include Wattled Guan, the extraordinary looking Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and recently described Stiles’s Tapaculo (endemic). We will also be listening out for Chestnut-breasted Wrens as well as Chestnut Wood-quail (endemic) and Hooded Antpitta but for sheer colourful spectacle, not much can beat the appropriately named Multicoloured Tanager, another localised endemic.


Moving on, we plan to visit Cerro Montezuma where on the higher slopes we will look for more Colombian endemics including Gold-ringed Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Dusky Starfrontlet and Munchique Wood-Wren. Lower down, other highly localised endemics we could see are Black-and-gold Tanager and Tatama Tapaculo, along with a fantastic range of other birds including Parker’s Antbird, Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Bicoloured Antvireo and Club-winged Manakin.


Another of the excellent reserves on our itinerary is Rio Blanco near the Andean town of Manizales. Amongst the many new species, we could see here are several species of antpitta including Brown-banded, Chestnut-naped, Slate-crowned and Bicoloured and whilst there are never any guarantees, some of these visit feeders allowing great views of these normally tricky forest floor dwellers.


Another feature of this reserve is an amazing set of hummingbird feeders where we should find Tourmaline Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Buff-tailed Coronet, White-bellied Woodstar along with several other species.

On our second day in this area, we intend to visit the high temperate zone of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, where forest patches give way to paramo. Our primary target here is the endemic and the very localised Rufous-fronted Parakeet but it is also well worth checking the flowering bushes for yet more colourful hummingbirds with Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Shining Sunbeam and, on occasions, the nomadic Black-thighed Puffleg and enigmatic Bearded Helmetcrest all present.


With a supporting cast that includes Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Crescent-faced Antpitta as well as Paramo Tapaculo, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Blue-backed Conebill, Golden-crowned Tanager and Lacrimose, Hooded and Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers, we can expect to add plenty of new species during our time in this region.


For the final stage of our tour, we will fly North and explore the Santa Marta Mountains which overlook the Caribbean. This is an area with an exceptional level of endemism and the famous San Lorenzo ridge is where we shall go in search of the many endemics that the region has to offer. Those we hope to see include Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Santa Marta Brushfinch, White-lored Warbler, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Streak-capped Spinetail, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Antpitta and Santa Marta Woodstar and if we are very fortunate, we could even see the recently described Santa Marta Screech-Owl.


Our tour will then conclude with a visit to the Caribbean coast where in the desert-like habitats of La Guajira, there is a completely new suite of species to look for including more localised specialities such as Chestnut Piculet, Buffy Hummingbird, Vermillion Cardinal and Tocuyo Sparrow.


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