Colombia has a greater diversity of birds than any country in the world, with more than 1900 species (a sixth of the world’s total) recorded at present, including over 76 endemic species and more than 109 near-endemic species. There are many factors that contribute to Colombia’s remarkable diversity of birds.
- Much of it is related to the country’s unusually complex topography which provides an enormous range of habitats.
Colombia, for example, is the only country in South America with both a Pacific and a Caribbean coast, and it is the only country in South America in which the Andes divide into three distinct mountain ranges.
- Within Colombia there also are several small but isolated mountain ranges including the Baudó Mountains in western Chocó, the Serranía de San Lucas north of the Central Andes, the Macarena Mountains east of the Andes, the Perijá Mountains separating northern Colombia from Venezuela, and the Santa Marta Mountains on the Caribbean coast. All of these areas provide sites for endemism.
- Colombia also boasts one of the wettest lowland rainforests in the world along the Pacific coast where there is a high degree of endemism, as well as humid lowland forests at the northern base of the Western and Central Andes, and vast areas of Amazonian rainforest in the southeastern part of the country.
- High elevation páramo, a type of wet, tropical alpine grassland, is found above treeline in all three Andean ranges as well as in the Santa Marta Mountains, and there are mangroves and marine ecosystems bordering both coastlines and these specialized habitats add to overall species diversity.
- East of the Andes, where the terrain is very flat there are extensive savannas or grasslands mixed with marshland and with gallery forests that border rivers. This area, which extends east to the Orinoco River, is known as the Llanos Orientales or eastern plains, and it harbors a large and distinctive avifauna and is also one of the easiest places to see birds.
Two large and unusually deep river valleys separate the Andes into its three ranges in Colombia. These are the Magdalena River between the Eastern and Central Andes, and the Cauca River between the Central and Western range. These large valleys and numerous small isolated river valleys within their watersheds, harbor a large number of species and subspecies, many of them endemic or near-endemic.
There are extensive tropical dry forests in isolated river valleys in the west, in parts of both the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys, and dry to extremely arid environments along the Caribbean coast from Cartagena to the Guajira Peninsula and many near-endemic species can be found here. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Santa Marta Mts. noted above), have the highest mountains in Colombia and this isolated massif adjacent to the Caribbean coast is Colombia’s richest area of endemism with more than 20 endemic species and many more subspecies.
Climate in Colombia ranges from warm to hot at sea level to very cold in the páramo region (3000- 4000 m [about 10,000 -13,000 ft]) to glacial even higher still and above the limit of plant grown. This dramatic climatic change between sea level and the high páramo results in a tremendous diversity of birds.
Colombia is located on migration routes for both boreal and austral breeding birds, and also is an important wintering area for these birds. More than 197 migratory species that breed in North America and in southern South America transit or spend their non-breeding periods in Colombia.
Several regions of our country have been declared Endemic Bird Areas (EBA’s), among them
- The Caribbean Coast,
- The Eastern Andes montane range,
- The inter-Andean valleys and foothills,
- The northern Central montane range and the
- Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
To help you enjoy that remarkable natural wealth and its avifauna, Birding Bogotá & Colombia organizes private tours to much of Colombia. In the future we also will offer tours with fixed dates.
Soon we will be publishing our destinations and tours to the Central and Western Andes, the Caribbean Coast -including the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta-, the Pacific Coast and other regions of Colombia.
To learn about top birding destinations in four different regions that we visit in Colombia, click here for the El Dorado Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; click here for Hato La Aurora in the eastern plains or Llanos Orientales of Colombia); click here for the El Almejal Ecolodge (Chocó, in the Pacific Coast) and click here for the Río Blanco Reserve near Manizales, in the Central Andes.
Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish