Birding Areas
(more soon, stay tuned!)
Northern Central Andes
Core of the Central Andes
Eastern Andes
Western Andes of Antioquia
Pacific Chocó Lowlands
Mid Magdalena Valley
Llanos and E Andean slopes
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta


Mid Magdalena Valley (Río Claro, Cueva del Condor and Maceo)
Oilbirds, a really restricted endemic Flycatcher and plenty of lowland specialties.

The massive Magdalena River carves a deep path between the Central and Eastern Andes of Colombia as it flows north to its terminus in the Caribbean Sea. The fertile Magdalena Valley sits nestled between these two giant mountain ranges, and the whole area is one of the newest additions to the list of Biodiversity Hotspots. When the river is just 500 m above sea level, it passes by well preserved forested areas in Antioquia that are home to endemic jewels like Blue-billed Curassows and the Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, among many others.


In Río Claro Reserve, we lodge in open-wall cabins high in the canopy, affording spectacular views of the river and forests below. Better yet, you will wake up to the calls of Howler Monkeys while toucans, honeycreepers, and endemic Yellow-tufted Dacnis forage for fruit just off your terrace! Walking the trail along the river usually gives us nice close sightings of Dull-mantled and Chestnut-backed Antbirds just before breakfast. Birding in this reserve is quite productive; besides enjoying all the endemic and near-endemic species (Citron-throated Toucan, Sooty Ant-Tanager, White-mantled Barbet, Saffron-headed Parrot, etc.) in the past we have achieved day lists of 150 species! One of the most wanted endemics is the highly range-restricted Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, which we normally find in very active pairs while walking a trail at the back of the reserve.


In a brief 15-minute drive from the reserve, we visit Cueva del Condor to look for hundreds of Oilbirds. In case you are curious, we don’t have any idea why this cave is named after Condors; we just know it is FULL of the bizarre, eye-catching, nocturnal Oilbirds! The path to the cave follows a small creek through the forest, where large mixed flocks are common and many species are possible, among them Slaty-winged Foliage-Gleaner, Pacific Antwren, One-colored Becard, Trinidad Euphonia, Thrush-like Schiffornis, and striking Blue-crowned and White-bearded Manakins engaging in their curious displays. On the way in and out we will pass through open pasture, where we should check off more than ten species of tyrant flycatchers for the list, including the spectacular Long-tailed Tyrant.


On the way to or from Río Claro, Palacio de Los Frijoles is a can’t-miss stop on our tours. This restaurant is a highlight of all of our trips through the area, and both the foods and birds are worth the stop! There, while having mouth-watering, local criollo Antioquia cuisine, you can watch a myriad of birds flocking to the banana feeders, just feet from your table. A leisurely walk along the road behind the restaurant will add endemic Colombian Chachalaca and near-endemic Bar-crested Antshrike to your list, as well as White-mantled Barbet, Pacific Antwren, Wire-crested Thorntail, and both Yellow- and Flame-rumped Tanagers.


Maceo is another Antioquia’s municipality by the Magdalena River, and it is well worth spending at least two or three days birding here if you are traveling to the Medellín area from the north. We lodge in the spacious, traditional Hacienda Santa Barbara, which is now part of an IBA and Municipal Reserve. Endemics or near-endemics such as Black Oropendolas, Saffron-headed Parrots, Citron-throated Toucans, Sooty Ant-Tanagers and White-mantled Barbets can be seen right around the hacienda. The Puerto Berrío trail makes for a nice birding day with many antbirds, tyrant flycatchers and puffbirds for the list, plus the chance of spotting endemic wandering Blue-billed Curassows.

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