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Colombia, birds and wildlife hotspot.

Colombia is indeed a remarkable hotspot for birds and wildlife. Its diverse ecosystems, including a wide variety from the lowland tropical forest to the paramo in the top of the Andes, helps to rank this country as a megadiverse destination. Here, we are going to explore some reasons why Colombia is considered a top destination for bird and wildlife enthusiasts.


Birds and Wildlife all together in the Colombian eastern plains.


Natural areas:


Located along the country's northern coast, the Caribbean Region is known for its stunning beaches, coral reefs, and vibrant coastal ecosystems. It encompasses popular destinations such as Cartagena, Santa Marta, and the Tayrona National Natural Park, but beside that, this region is also home to unique mangrove forests, the driest area in the country and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world's highest coastal mountain range. From the point of view of a naturalist and a birdwatcher, the Santa Marta mountains are one of the most important neotropical hotspots, being home of many of the country's endemics and range restricted birds, including some elusive and critical endangered species like the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, lost for almost a century until their rediscovery or the many “Santa Marta” birds: Santa Marta Tapaculo, Brush-Finch, Bush-Tyrant, Antpitta, Parakeet and so on!


American flamingoes in the Colombian Caribe, photgraphy session (note. Our guests have to stay at least 20 meters away from the birds)


On Colombia's western coast, the Pacific Region is a lush and biodiverse area characterized by dense rainforests, mangroves, and stunning Pacific beaches. This region receives heavy rainfall, which supports the growth of rich tropical ecosystems. The Pacific Region is famous for its whale watching opportunities, as humpback whales during their migration, but also is known for being the biogeographical Chocó area, shared with Ecuador, home of vast birds and mammals diversity including many range restricted birds to this area like the enigmatic Sapayoa, the colorful Toucan Barbet or the incredible Long-wattled Umbrellabird.


The elusive Toucan Barbet


Running along the central part of Colombia, encompassing the majestic Andes mountain range. It is characterized by high-altitude valleys, plateaus, and snow-capped peaks. The region is known for its fertile lands, coffee plantations, and diverse ecosystems from the tropical forest in the lowlands to the paramos in the highlands, but cloud forest, rain forest, montane forest among others are here. The Andes are home of a vast biodiversity and due to the split in three branches separated by deep valleys, the unique species are all over, from the very plain color and difficult Tapaculos to wonders of nature like: Multicolored Tanager, Buffy Helmetcrest, Red-bellied Grackle or the Gold-ringed Tanager.



The Andes mountain range


Situated in the eastern part of the country, the Orinoco Region is named after the Orinoco River. It consists of vast plains, known as llanos, to the south are the well drained grasslands and to the north the seasonally flooded savannas. The Orinoco Region is home to a wide range of wildlife and birds. In the area there are records for more than 700 bird species including the range restricted: Pale-headed Jacamar, Orinoco Goose, Sharp-tailed Ibis and White-bearded Flycatcher, but also some beauties like Scarlet Ibis, Jabirus and Sunbitter. Their wildlife is nothing but awesome, including the Jaguar, Anaconda, Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Red-howler Monkeys, Capybaras and way more.



The Scarlet Ibis in a roosting site


Covering a significant portion of southeastern Colombia, the Amazon Region is part of the Amazon rainforest, one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems. This region is characterized by dense tropical rainforests, winding rivers, and diverse wildlife, including Jaguars, pink river dolphins, plenty monkey species, thousands of plants and countless bird species. in Colombia, the amazonia is easily reach by short flights or ground depending on the area and a birds and wildlife adventure here usually includes sights of the Pink river Dolphins and outstanding birds like: Capuchinbird, Fiery Topaz, Guianan Cock of the Rock, Wire-tailed Manakin, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Cream-colored Woodpecker among others.


Inirida river in the Orinoco-Amazon transition


The Insular Region refers to the islands in the Caribbean and Pacific, these islands have unique ecosystems and are known for their pristine beaches, coral reefs, and crystal-clear waters, which also serve in the caribe as a stop over or final destination for migratory birds like warblers and vireos - also home of the endemic San Andres Vireo - and in the pacific as refugee of wildlife.



Common Black Hawk in the rocky beach


Mega diversity:


Colombia boasts the highest number of bird and orchids species in the world, with a number near the 2000 recorded species and 4270 orchids, but its number keep going with at least 490 mammal species, 300 amphibians, 3300 butterflies, 537 reptiles and near 23.000 flowering plants


It is home to numerous endemic species, 79 birds, 34 mammals, 1470 orchids, 350 butterflies among others. Colombia is top ranked as a megadiverse country.



Important Bird Areas (IBAs or AICAS in spanish):


Colombia has more than 170 officially recognized IBAs, designated by BirdLife International based on their significance for the conservation of bird species. These IBAs represent critical habitats for both resident and migratory birds which are areas identified as critical for bird conservation. Birdwatchers can explore these sites and encounter a wide array of species, but also, many other species live there and these IBA are not only home of birds, but also home of a vast variety of diversity.




Protected Areas:


Colombia is known for its extensive system of national natural parks, which protect and preserve the country's diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and cultural heritage. This system includes national parks but also nature reserves, flora and fauna sanctuaries among others. in total 60 of them and covers 11.1% of the territory. These protected areas offer opportunities to observe not only birds but also other wildlife, such as mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.




RNSC:


"Reservas Naturales de la Sociedad Civil" in English translates to "Civil Society Natural Reserves" in Colombia. Civil Society Natural Reserves refer to protected areas that are managed and conserved by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or local communities in Colombia. These reserves are established to protect and preserve the country's natural heritage, including its biodiversity, ecosystems, and cultural values.


Civil Society Natural Reserves play a crucial role in expanding the network of protected areas in Colombia, as they often focus on areas that are not covered by the national park system. These reserves are typically established through voluntary efforts and community-based initiatives, involving collaboration between local communities, NGOs, and government agencies.



Ecotourism Initiatives:


Colombia has been actively promoting ecotourism, providing opportunities for visitors to explore its natural wonders responsibly. Many tour operators offer birdwatching and wildlife photography tours, providing expert guides with knowledge about the local flora and fauna, but also since the peace agreement, Colombia and Colombians have been working hard on improve not only their services but also infrastructure in general terms, this not only means better roads, but high quality lodging, more and better places to enjoy our activities.



Unique Ecosystems:


Colombia's varied landscapes harbor unique ecosystems that support an array of wildlife. From the Amazon rainforest to the páramos (high-altitude grasslands) of the Andes and the mangroves along the Caribbean coast, each region offers distinct habitats and species, every area loaded with something special to offer.


The Paramo


By highlighting these compelling aspects of Colombia's biodiversity, we can inspire people to visit this country and appreciate the natural wonders we have to offer.





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