Colombia is a paradise for bird watchers. Whether for scientific purposes or simply out of curiosity, it is an amazing destination.

Helge Vjoorlo



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Birdwatching in the Caribbean region

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Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus)

Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus) /Picture: Juan David Ramírez/

The Caribbean region of Colombia presents a series of highly contrasting habitats converting it in a very rich and diverse one.

This region is located in the north of Colombia in the departments of Guajira, Cesar, Magdalena, Atlántico, Bolívar, Sucre, Córdoba and a little bit in the N of Antioquia; it’s delimited in the N and W by the Atlantic Ocean, in the W by the E Andes, and in the S by the Andes in general and interandean valleys.

A surprising feathered sight.

Dry Forest is the prime habitat in the region, with incursion of humid forests in the mountainous slopes and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Up to a bit more than 1.200 millimeters of rain per year could become, but in drier Guajira areas, only 460 mm are reported.

Even 8 national natural parks and more than 15 IBAs have been established in the region, several considerably large human settlements and extensive cattle ranching have deeply impacted the ecosystems of the region, especially the Dry Forest.

Birdwatching in the Caribbean region

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) /Picture: Juan David Ramírez/

Close to 700 bird species live in the Colombian Caribbean. Birds from forests, rivers, and the coast may be found practically anywhere. Some 50 species are considered exclusive to this Colombian region.

The Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and the Vía Parque Isla de Salamanca (respectively, a large swamp and a parkway) lie between the cities of Barranquilla and Santa Marta. Huge congregations of aquatic birds can be seen, as well as the endemic, threatened Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Lepidopyga lilliae).

The Tayrona National Park and Los Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary are located between the cities of Santa Marta and Riohacha. The park and sanctuary are home to striking species like the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), the Buffy Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax), the Chestnut Piculet (Picumnus cinnamomeus), the Northern Scrub-Flycatcher (Sublegatus arenarum), the Slender-billed Inezia (Inezia tenuirostris), the Orinocan Saltator (Saltator orenocensis), and the Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus).

Brown-throated Parakeet (Aratinga pertinax)

Brown-throated Parakeet (Aratinga pertinax) /Picture: Juan David Ramírez/

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is very important in itself because it contains many endemics and thus deserves a special section.

Visiting all the various interesting birding localities in the Caribbean is not hard due to their vicinity to coastal cities and a good road network.



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