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Hummingbirds of Bogotá, 3 days exploring around the capital city of Colombia

Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, it is located in the central part of the country. It sits at an altitude of approximately 2,640 meters (8,660 feet) above sea level in the eastern Andes, in an area locally known as the altiplano Cundiboyacense (Bogotá savanna plateau) region. This metropolis has a population of nearly 10 million inhabitants and despite all the problems that big cities have, the surrounding area is quite incredible for birdwatching and wildlife sighting.

Bogotá is in the state of Cundinamarca. In terms of birds and wildlife, Cundinamarca has records for about 990 bird species and some of the best chances to see the Spectacled Bear and White-tailed Deer among other smaller mammals as well as 82 species of hummingbirds. Those numbers include the lowlands and the highlands of the whole department. What is also amazing is that the surrounding areas - near to the city - hold at least 450 bird species and no less than 40 hummingbirds!

The paramo.

This time we spent three days, having Bogotá as a headquarters to explore the surrounding area with the main target of watching and photographing some of the hummingbirds in the eastern branch of the Andes.

A beautiful Lesser Violetear, during our photography weekend

Day 1. Soggy day at Chingaza national park buffer area!

Chingaza National Park is located 1.5h from the city of Bogotá, it exhibits an incredible biodiversity and the main habitats are: high Andean forest, sub paramo and open paramo, including some moorlands and wetlands. We started in the early morning and we went straight to the subparamo area in the buffer zone of Chingaza National Park. Our main target this morning was the Bronze-tailed Thornbill, restricted to the subparamo and paramo of the eastern branch of the Andes, quite difficult to photograph and sometimes to watch! The weather was challenging - something usual in the mountains - the drizzling and windy conditions followed us during the day, but despite this, we were able to spot it at least two times - unfortunately very briefly - but then after recognizing its patch we saw a beautiful male going back and forth and we were able to enjoy it and to photograph it!

Bronze-tailed Thornbill

Later that day we moved to the high Andean forest again, with two main targets in mind: The Green-tailed Trainbearer and the near endemic Coppery-bellied Puffleg. The drizzly and windy conditions continued the whole late morning and early afternoon, a good dose of hot coffee - the best in the world! - was necessary while we waited for our targets. But we did not wait too long until a beautiful male Green-tailed Trainbearer showed up!!! The Pufflegs required a bit of patience, but we sighted them anyway. In the pocket, another successful day! Other hummingbird species spotted and photographed on our first day: Blue-throated Starfronlet, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Glowing Puffleg, Tyrian Metaltail, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Sparkling Violetear, Tourmaline Sunangel, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Great Sapphirewing among others.

Coppery-bellied Puffleg

Day 2. Chicaque and Sumapaz

Chicaque is a private reserve located in the southwest of Bogotá, about 1.5h from downtown. The main ecosystem is cloud forest and it holds an incredible biodiversity: more than 300 bird species, 30 hummingbirds species and some mammals too! The main target for our visit was one of the most incredible hummingbirds: The Golden-bellied Starfronlet; a near endemic species, restricted to the eastern branch of the Andes. We were able to spot a female visiting a Hibiscus flower and some minutes later, a male started to work near our position and gave us a spectacular show! We photographed both, male and female. We also got incredible shots of the Collared Inca and Lesser Violetear, and as a bonus, the beautiful Beryl-spangled Tanager posed for us!

Golden-bellied Starfronlet

Later in the morning we drove to Sumapaz at the southeastern-most extreme of Bogotá. It is not only a national park, but it is also the largest paramo area in the world. Its landscape is outstanding and the bird biodiversity is extremely unique. We watched and photographed one of the most incredible hummingbirds, the endemic Green-bearded Helmetcrest! The Helmetcrest is restricted to a few paramos in the eastern branch of the Andes in Colombia. We also watched a female with nesting material!

Green-bearded Helmetcrest

The crew at the paramo

Our lunch took place in Chiguaza reserve, in the outskirts of the city. This is a very interesting place that started few years ago. They have been planting flowering trees and bushes, and the garden became a beautiful place for birdwatching and bird photography. This has increased the opportunity to see some very interesting birds. During lunch we spotted: The Silvery-throated Spinetail (endemic), Black-tailed Trainbearer, Green-tailed Trainbearer and Black-backed Grosbeak!

Nice lunch at Chiguaza reserve

Day 3. Enchanted garden, hummingbird feeders place

After leaving the Bogotá savanna high plateau you start to lose elevation and with that, the set of birds. This is quite easy in Bogotá since you can gain but also lose elevation within a short time of driving. We visited the Enchanted Garden for a quick photo session for hummingbirds. This places is located 1.5h from the city and faces the Magdalena valley, located at 5000 ft - mid elevation. There is a small farmhouse in the countryside, the backyard has some hummingbird feeders and it is possible to watch at least 12 species in less than one hour! Some of the photographed species here: Indigo-capped Hummingbird, White-vented Plumleteer, Brown Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, White-bellied Woodstar, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, black throated Mango among others.

Indigo-capped Hummingbird

This is our top ten best hummingbirds around Bogotá.

  1. Green-bearded Helmetcrest

  2. Black Inca

  3. Golden-bellied Starfronlet

  4. Blue-throated Starfronlet

  5. Bronze-tailed Thornbill

  6. Coppery-bellied Puffleg

  7. Green-tailed Trainbearer

  8. Black-tailed Trainbearer

  9. Indigo-capped Hummingbird

  10. Sword-billed Hummingbird


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