Posts from October 2012

Touring for Central Andes Endemics: how good birding in Colombia can be.

Oct 23, 2012

Birded the Central & Western Andes from October 6-15 (2012) with Robert & Sarah Carr from Boston (Massachusetts).  After traveling 1,200 kilometers we managed to see or hear 22 out of 28 expected endemics. We saw 327 species and “heard only” 21 species, for a total of 348 species in 8 days. In addition to the endemics, we saw 55 species considered to be true Andean specialties. For a detailed itinerary, please download the PDF that describes our medium length “Central Andes Endemics” tour from the Tours section of this web page.

Birds seen included the Grayish Piculet and Colombian Chachalaca at El Vinculo reserve; Blackish Rail & Cinnamon Teal at the Cartago marshes; Wilson’s  Phalarope on October 9th at the Cameguadua marsh (a rare migrant in this part of the country); Multicolored Tanager, Stile´s Tapaculo, Cauca Guan, Colombian Screech-Owl, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow at Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary; Brown-banded, Slate-crowned, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped and Undulated Antpittas at Río Blanco, plus Chestnut Wood-Quail, Golden-fronted Whitestar, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-headed Quetzal, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled & Powerful Woodpeckers, White-throated Screech-Owl, Band-winged &  Lyre-tailed Nightjars, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Pearled Treerunner, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Long-tailed Antbird, Dusky Piha, Black-collared Jay and Red-hooded Tanager, among many others.

Our Grand Vitara 4x4 allowed us to scout the Old Road to Los Nevados, where we had great views of the Black-thighed and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Rainbow-bearded and Purple-backed Thornbills, Mountain Velvetbreast, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Tyrian and Viridian Metaltails. At 4,000 meters we enjoyed the Bearded Helmetcrest and as we came down the mountain encountered a group of Black-backed Bush-Tanager and a gorgeous Andean Pygmy-Owl vocalizing from a tree.

A short but productive visit to Neira road gave us a close encounter with the endemic  Yellow-headed Brush-Finch and a good sighting of the Moustached Puffbird. At Morro Amarillo we had amazing looks at a female Hook-billed Kite, Slate-colored Seedeater, Guira Tanager, Yellow-backed Oriole, Black-chested Jay and a close encounter with Parker’s Antbird, among many other birds.

Final day birding the road to Ventanas Pass above Jardín allowed us to see 30 Yellow-eared Parrrots, plus Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Citrine Warbler, Black-capped Tyrannulet and Black-throated Pygmy-Tyrant.  On the afternoon we encountered a group of 7 gorgeous Red-bellied Grackles moving along with the beautiful Scarlet-rumped Cacique (the high altitude uropygialis subspecies) and Russet-backed Oropendolas. Closed the day with a farewell visit to the Cock-of-the-Rock lek near town.

In the words of Robert Carr after returning to Boston: “Dear Daniel, we had a great time on the trip!  This was certainly the best birding trip we've ever been on, and the memories will last with us forever.  We are looking forward to the chance when we can plan a return visit to bird a different region of Colombia”.

Bird photography in Colombia: searching for Andean endemics & hummingbirds (August 22 - Sept. 07, 2012).

Oct 01, 2012

This 12-page trip report by traveler & photographer Peter Hawrylyshyn from Toronto (Canada) describes a 17-day bird photography trip to the Eastern, Central & Western Andes of Colombia. It includes a detailed account of all birding sites & lodges, with GPS coordinates. Traveling logistics are discussed, as well as birds seen and photographed. This was a highly specialized bird photography trip, with much time invested in the photography of endemics, near-endemics and hummingbirds.

Here are Peter’s concluding remarks: “An amazing trip - we saw about 350 species of which 95 were lifers for Hanno and 62 were lifers for Bob (who saw his 4000th life-bird on the trip). We saw 60 species of hummingbirds, which included 14 target birds on my “must-see” list (only missed the Golden-bellied Starfrontlet). Colombia was certainly safe in the areas we visited. We saw only one army checkpoint along the road to the Piha Reserve. Everywhere the people were friendly and always trying to be helpful. Accommodations ranged from very basic (La Victoria) to luxurious (Bogota Mariott), and were more than adequate at all the eco-lodges (ProAves, Rio Blanco and Rogitama). The food was excellent everywhere we visited – importantly, no one got sick. Lastly, a special thanks again to Daniel, without whom, the success of the trip would have been impossible. Plans are already being formulated for a follow-up trip in 2013”.

Download Trip report in PDF format.


Endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanifrons) by Bob Lewis.


Beautiful Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae) by Peter Hawrylyshyn.

Posts from September 2012

Bird photography trip with emphasis on hummingbirds

Sep 28, 2012

From August 22nd to September 9th we guided a magnificent bird photo trip for Peter Hawrylyshyn (Canada) and Robert (Bob) & Hanno Lewis (California, USA), aimed at obtaining images of certain hummingbird species and increasing the life list for Bob & Hanno. The itinerary was conceived by Peter & Bob according to their goals in obtaining images of birds, especially endemics & near-endemics of central Colombia. A detailed trip report written by Peter Hawrylyshyn can be downloaded from our "Trip Reports" section.

Among other sites, we visited Rogitama Private Reserve, Chingaza & Los Nevados National Parks, Siechia wetlands, the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco de Sales, Bellavista Forest in Victoria, Rio Blanco, Jardin, Las Tangaras & Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve of ProAves and La Romera Ecopark in Medellín.

In summary, Hanno saw 95 lifers, Bob 62 (including his 4000th life-bird!) and Peter saw 60 species of hummingbirds including 14 of his “must see” birds. We took plenty of images, enjoying remarkable photo opportunities for species such as: Bogota Rail (E), Silvery-throated Spinetail (E), Matorral Tapaculo (E), Spot-flanked Gallinule, Short-tailed Emerald (NE), Rufous-browed Conebill (NE),  Coppery-bellied Puffleg (NE), Bronze-tailed Thornbill (NE), Indigo-capped Hummingbird (E), Red-billed Emerald (NE), White-mantled Barbet (E) , Sooty Ant-Tanager (E), Velvet-fronted Euphonia (E), Bar-crested Antshrike (NE) , Golden-fronted Whitestart (NE) , Brown-banded Antpitta (E), Black-thighed Puffleg (NE), Golden-breasted Puffleg (NE) , Yellow-eared Parrot (E), Rufous-breasted Flycatcher (NE) , Black-and-gold Tanager (E), Glistening-green Tanager (NE), Purplish-mantled Tanager (NE), Indigo Flower-piercer (NE) , Toucan Barbet (NE), Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager (NE) , Velvet-purple Coronet (NE), Empress Brilliant (NE), Purple-throated Woodstar (NE), Brown Inca (NE), Violet-tailed Sylph (NE), Scrub Tanager (NE), Red-bellied Grackle (E) , Colombian Chachalaca (E), Parker’s Antbird (E), Black-headed Brush-Finch (NE) and Sooty-headed Wren (NE).

To see a sample of the bird images taken by Bob Lewis, go to:

And Peter´s images will soon be published here:


Posts from August 2012

Birding for one day - and it was great!

Aug 18, 2012

August 17th (2012) we did a one-day birding trip to Rio Blanco & Recinto del Pensamiento with Jean Rosenberg and daughter Nathalie from Massachusetts. The day began with a sighting of Rusty-faced Parrots feeding on mistletoes in Rio Blanco, a good breakfast and a short walk to the first of three Antpitta feeding stations. Here, we enjoyed the Brown-banded  (endemic), Chestnut-naped & Chestnut-crowned Antpittas.  In the second feeding station the Bicolored Antpitta (near-endemic) showed briefly but was well seen. And in the third station we had a close encounter with the Slate-crowned Antpitta, feeding on earthworms just 5 feet away from us!

A pleasurable hike through the forest yielded long views of a family of four Long-tailed Antbirds, feeding along bamboo thickets with the tiny Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant. Some of the birds that showed up really well: Andean Guan, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Black-capped and Superciliaried Hemispingus, Blue-and-black Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, Golden-fronted Whitestart (near-endemic), Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Mountain Elaenia, Masked Trogon, Green-and-black Fruiteater and Azara’s Spinetail. Before leaving Rio Blanco we had great views of the Golden-plumed Parakeet (a group of 30 flying over, plus 5 birds perched in front of the lodge baranda) and the White-capped Tanager (a group of 5, perched).

Late afternoon we visited the hummingbird feeders at Recinto del Pensamiento. Hummingbirds seen here plus those seen in Rio Blanco made a total of 16 species for the day!  The species seen were: Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed Coronet, Long-tailed Sylph, Tyrian Metaltail, Speckled Hummingbird, Collared Inca, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, White-bellied Woodstar, Green-fronted Lancebill, Bronzy Inca, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, Green Violetear, Sparkling Violetear and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird . Before the day ended, we had a close encounter with the Sickle-winged Guan, Golden-crowned Flycatcher and Pale-edged Flycatcher.

A report of an adventurous birding visit to Colombia, written by Dominic Mitchell and published in July 2012 issue of Birdwatch magazine.

Aug 15, 2012

This is an informative and fun to read article that includes Dominic´s sightings at Los Nevados National Park, Rio Blanco, Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary in the Central Andes, and Cerro Montezuma in the Western Andes.


Download this article in PDF format.



Bearded Helmetcrest (male) at Los Nevados National Park. Photo by Daniel Uribe.

Developed by: