Birding Bogotá & Colombia

El Tabacal lagoon

Key species

Endemic: Velvet-fronted Euphonia.

Near endemics: Spectacled Parrotlet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Scrub Tanager and Gray-throated Warbler.


White-throated Crake, Dwarf Cuckoo, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Ash-browed Spinetail, Red-billed Scythebill, Jet Antbird, Andean Inmaculate Antbird, Magdalena Antbird, Dusky Antbird, White-bellied Antbird, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Black-bellied Wren, Speckle-breasted (Colombian) Wren, Plain-colored Tanager, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and Black-headed Brush-Finch.

Approximate number of bird species: 155.


Height above sea level: 1250m (4100ft).


El Tabacal Lagoon is a small body of water located at about an hour and 45 minutes west from Bogotá and on one of the major routes to the Magdalena River Valley. It is a natural reserve managed by the municipality of La Vega and offers a combination of humid and dry forest habitats as well as secondary vegetation.

The area hosts a great variety of birds, many of which can be seen immediately upon arrival in the trees and shrubbery surrounding the parking lot. Key birds here include three near endemics: the Bar-crested Antshrike, Spectacled Parrotlet and Scrub Tanager. The parking lot also is a good place to search for such specialties like the Black-bellied Wren, and Ash-browed and Slaty spinetails. A variety of commoner and widespread species also can be seen here including Red-crowned Woodpecker, Dwarf Cuckoo, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Blue-necked, Blue-gray, Palm, Bay-headed and Crimson-backed tanagers, Saffron Finch, Streaked Saltator and Thick-billed Euphonia.

Beyond the park entrance, where there is a mix of partly open second growth trees and taller forest, many other species are possible, among them Green Honeycreeper and Bay-headed and Blue-necked tanagers. A pair or two of White-throated Crakes inhabit the vegetation along the shore of the lagoon and Neotropical Cormorants, Rusty-margined Flycatchers and Rough-winged Swallows often perch on the island in the middle of the lake. Occasionally a Black Hawk-Eagle can be seen soaring above the lagoon.

Forest trails here provide acces to a fine selection of species, among them the endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Magdalena Antbird, White-bellied Antbird, Andean Inmaculate Antbird, Dusky Antbird, White-bearded and Striped manakins, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Red-billed Scythebill, Gray-throated Warbler, Speckled-breasted (Colombian) Wren, Scrub and Rufous-naped greenlets, Stripe-breasted and Ash-browed spinetails, and occasionally Black-headed Brush-Finch.

During the northern winter months of October through March or April many non-breeding species from North America visit El Tabacal Lagoon including Great-crested Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush, Tennessee and Blackburnian warblers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Gray-cheeked Thrush is a scarce transient through here and the Osprey can be seen at any time of the year although it only breeds in North America.

At Birding Bogotá & Colombia, often we combine the trips to El Tabacal Lagoon with an afternoon visit to the nearby Enchanted Garden (click here) for a large array of hummingbirds visiting about forty feeders. We also can combine early morning or afternoon trips to La Florida Park with a visit to El Tabacal Lagoon (click here).

To visit El Tabacal Lagoon email us at

Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

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