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


News from the ''field'' - by Diego


2008, October – Short trips in and near Bogota with a Finn client for endemics and bird photographing (Second Weekend).

Our dear client Jussi Vakkala from Finland kept birding with us in October while he was still in Colombia for business. Joined by our E Andes guide Oswaldo, he visited on Oct25th and 26th a highland area in the Páramo de Sumapaz near Bogotá where they definitively got great birds! Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Noble Snipe, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, White-chinned Thistletail, endemic Apolinar's Wren and Jussi’s loved seedeaters: Plain-colored and Paramo. After the páramo, they lodged and birded in Chicaque reserve montane forests near the city where they also got several species: White-tipped Swift, endemic Black Inca, Booted Racket-tail, endemic Silvery-throated Spinetail, Chestnut-crowned and Tawny Antpittas, Blackish, Spillmann's and Matorral Tapaculos heard and loads of tanagers (Blue-gray, Blue-capped, Scrub, Blue-necked, Blue-and-black, Beryl-spangled, Flame-faced, Golden, and Emerald) and Flowerpiercers (Glossy, White-sided, Bluish, and Masked). Oswaldo recorded a Brown Tinamou that is only know in few localities and famous because originally coming from the “Bogotá Skins”. More info and superb pics of these two birding weekends can be found at Jussi’s website here.





2008, October – Endemic Chestnut-capped Piha (Lipaugus weberi) on a Colombian postage stamp.

The only bird endemic to the Antioquia department, the Chestnut-capped Piha, was used as one of the main subjects in a new series of Antioquia postage stamps recently released in Colombia. The Chestnut-capped Piha was named in tribute to Walter H. Weber, and the original description paper says: “The species epithet is dedicated to Walter H. Weber of Medellín, Colombia, for his enormous and on-going contribution to Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología (SAO) and for promoting Colombian ornithology and conservation. His commitment to Colombian bird conservation and his encouragement of young ornithologists are providing the country with renewed hope. The English name refers to the most contrasting and characteristic morphological feature, the chestnut-brown cap. The Spanish name refers to the Department of Antioquia, the only region in which the species has been found to date”… This is a beautiful stamp with the original illustration made by John P. O'Neill. Each client coming with us to Colombia for endemics will have an original stamp as a COLOMBIA Birding souvenir.





2008, October – Short trips in and near Bogota with a Finn client for endemics and bird photographing (First Weekend).

I was birding October 18th and 19th with Jussi Vakkala in the E Andes. Jussi is on a short business visit in Colombia; he is a renowned bird photographer from Finland and wanted to spend his couple of free weekends birding with COLOMBIA Birding. The 1st weekend we went to La Florida wetlands were we spotted specialties like Bogota Rail, Apolinar’s Wrens and Spot-flanked Gallinules. After the wetlands, we headed to forest and subparamo in Sopó municipality near Bogotá where we had some nice birds even it was a very sunny afternoon (Rufous-browed Conebill, Glowing Puffleg and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager were some of our favorites). Sunday we visited Rogitama reserve in Arcabuco (Boyacá) to have splendid views of endemic and near-endemic hummingbirds: Black Inca, Short-tailed Emerald, Lazuline Sabrewing, White-bellied Woodstar and Amethyst-throated Sunangel that unfortunately was only seen by Roberto, the reserve owner, and me. Jussi and I got almost one hundred species in two birding days very near the capital! Next weekend, Jussi will be birding more highlands with our guide Oswaldo Cortés, so more info from the field is coming soon… stay tuned!





2008, October – COLOMBIA Birding guides and friends trip to Amalfi in the N Central Andes: loads of endemics and cool pics!

October 4th and 5th were active birding days in the N tip of the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes. Juanda and Pablo (COLOMBIA Birding guides), Tuto (a birding friend of ours) and I drove from Medellin to Finca Bodega Vieja in Amalfi, Antioquia and birded there the short, but full of birds!, weekend. We got great views of several key species like the endemic Chestnut-capped Piha, Red-bellied Grackle, White-mantled Barbet and Parker's Antbird, plus other specialties as Saffron-headed Parrot, and Purplish-mantled, Scarlet-and-white and Lemon-browed Tanagers. Stiles's Tapaculo and Colombian Chachalaca were endemics we only heard. We had a great time (even on the rainy Saturday morning), delightfully taking nice photos and we really only missed finding one target species: Lanceolated Monklet (that was really the main target of the trip..... shame onus!!!, jejeje).






2008, September – Nesting data of endemic Mountain Grackle taken in the field by a COLOMBIA Birding guide.

Oswaldo Cortés, our COLOMBIA Birding local guide for E Andes, along with Ximena Villagran and Juan Miguel Ruiz, recently made a trip to the E Andean highlands in Boyacá department, Colombia, finding Mountain Grackles nesting and very active in the area. They found a nest and Oswaldo was able to photograph it with the BLUE egg in it! These and other observations from last year from other researchers are the first where the eggs and nest of this endemic species have been accessible to the human eye. They are preparing a note on this for publication. Oswaldo has been working for several years now with the endemic threatened birds of the E Andes highlands.





2008, August – COLOMBIA Birding at the British Birdwatching Fair.

COLOMBIA Birding was present in the biggest and most important birding festival of the world: The 2008 UK Birdfair held at Oakham, UK August 15th-17th. I was part of the Colombian Tourism Board (Proexport) team of exhibitors advertising Colombia as one of the most wanted birding destinations worldwide. In this massive event, everyone was interested in knowing more about Colombia, Colombian endemics, traveling to and around the country, etc. For sure many people that attended the Birdfair will soon be birding in our country!


Información del Birdfair para Proexport y operadores nacionales AQUI.


2008, August - Medellín and its surroundings trip with Cali birding couple guided by Juanda.

August 7th and 8th were devoted by one of our COLOMBIA Birding mates, Juanda, to guide an enthusiastic local birding couple from Valle del Cauca. Francsico Piedrahita and his wife, Claudia, birded two complete mornings with Juanda in the highlands of El Escobero and the Caldas-Angelópolis road near Medellín. Francisco and Claudia were in Medellín due to the International Orchid Show in the Feria de las Flores festival. The first day was kind of sunny, windy, and hot, so not many birds were seen; however, loads of orchids were observed and marvelous views of Medellín and Nevado del Ruiz (a hundred kilometers away!) were achieved. The second day I join them for an hour before returning to my other tour clients from US that were in Medellin, as well because the orchid stuff. The birding was phenomenal that day. Our clients got several lifers (i.e. Barred Becard, Pachyramphus versicolor) and Francisco and Juanda took very nice photographs. After a prolific birding morning, Francisco, Claudia, and Juanda compiled the list and had a yummy criollo lunch in a restaurant near Caldas.





2008, August – During a COLOMBIA Birding trip, first photographs of Baudo Oropendola ever.

August 5th and 6th, in the last section of a trip with US birders, I made a river trip with one of my clients (Karen Sharples) to an indigenous community at the base of the Baudó Mountains in the Pacific Chocó jungle. We birded and enjoyed the pristine landscape while I had my ears totally vigilant for Baudo Oropendola songs that I’d learned last January in this same area. Before noon, we heard the oropendolas and soon we had 3 individuals focused in the scope. We were infatuated by those really cool long-lost birds! I have recorded them before and had a short note in preparation with details on song, calls, habitat, and nesting; I was only waiting for some pictures… Stay tuned!




2008, July/August - Llanos, C Andes and Chocó trip with US birding crew guided by Diego.

We just finished another succesful COLOMBIA Birding trip. This time I guided a crew from Florida and Washington, US. We started the last week of July in Bogotá and around Villavicencio in the E llanos, and then drove to Manizales to enjoy Rio Blanco hummingbirds as a stopover before taking our flight to the Pacific Chocó where we spent almost a week. Brian and Vicki returned sooner to the US, and I went with Karen to the International Orchid Show in Medellín after the trip. A huge bunch of lifers is in the list of our clients and some specialties they really wanted to spot were achieved (Hoatzin, Baudo Oropendola, Blue Cotinga, Collared Inca, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, etc). Thanks very much to Brian, Vicki and Karen for those great days of birding and traveling, I hope to have you sooner again in Colombia! – The report will be uploaded soon to the Trip Reports section of COLOMBIA Birding.




2008, July/August - C and W Andes trip with US birding crew guided by Pablo.

For a week Alex (originally from El Salvador) and Gary from San Francisco, CA were birding with us in the Central and Western Andes looking for some specialties. This time I was busy with another tour in the Llanos, C Andes and Chocó so these guys were joined and guided by Pablo. By chance both birding crews met in Rio Blanco on Aug. 1st and we shared birding a bit in the forest where not too much activity was going on that morning. Later, just before dusk, we met again to try to spot a Lyre-tailed Nightjar, one of the target birds Gary had for this trip, and we did it! We got two different male birds and at least one female. Gary, Alex and Pablo then joined Jose Castaño in the W Andes and they got close views of Yellow-eared Parrots. Alex took really good pics of birds during the trip, and Gary finally ended the trip in Medellin at the International Orchid Show in the Feria de las Flores as he is one of the specialists on the genus Dracula. – The full report of this trip will be uploaded soon to the Trip Reports section of COLOMBIA Birding.





2008, June - Lyre-tailed Nightjar short domestic trips with friends.

By mid June, I made a couple of visits to El Escobero in the Medellin highlands with Juanda and Luis G. Olarte, a friend from “La Pesada”. We were looking for a male Lyre-tailed Nightjar that had been previously attracted by the playback of a Pygmy-Owl made by Pablo and Juanda the week before. I was interested in checking the occurrences of this species because I had a forthcoming US client that was targeting that nightjar for his next trip to Colombia. The first day we met in Medellin and drove up to location in the mountains. We got an immediate response and the male came to us several times acrobatically flying giving us a true show. The next day we hurriedly returned by ourselves and met up there; then, we set some mist nets to try to get some good pictures and a 100% confident ID and made playback but no bird showed up. Anyways, that was a really beautiful night and we had fun up there in the cold at 2.800 masl. Lyre-tailed Nightjar is present in the Medellin highlands and has been seen by many others before; but as in several other localities, this species appears to occur intermittently.



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©2008-2010 COLOMBIA Birding. All pics and contents made by, owned, and copyrighted to, Diego Calderón-F. unless otherwise stated.