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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Buffy Helmetcrest

    The endemic Buffy (Bearded) Helmetcrest in Los Nevados National Park (Nevado del Ruiz) by Ian Merrill.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Saffron-headed Parrot

    Saffron-headed Parrot at Rio Claro by Paul Noakes.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Colombia


    Endemics 93 (including 25 in Santa Marta Mountains)
    (Of the 93; 18 hummingbirds, five antpittas, seven wrens and eight tanagers)
    Cauca Guan, Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Colombian Chachalaca, Blue-billed Curassow, Chestnut Wood-quail, Gorgeted Wood-quail, Tolima Dove, Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Buffy Helmetcrest, Gorgeted Puffleg (Serrania del Pinche, southwest), Colourful Puffleg, Black Inca, Glittering (Dusky) Starfrontlet, Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, Chiribiquete Emerald (south), Tolima Blossomcrown, Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Bogota Rail, Sooty-capped Puffbird, White-mantled Barbet, Greyish Piculet, Beautiful Woodpecker, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Indigo-winged Parrot (tiny range on west slope of central Andes), Turquoise-winged (Green-rumped) Parrotlet, Sinu (Painted) Parakeet (possibly extinct), Upper Magdalena (Maroon-tailed) Parakeet, Brown-breasted Parakeet, Yellow-eared Parrot (probably extinct in Ecuador), Parker’s Antbird, East Andean (Klage's) Antbird, Cundinamarca Antpitta, Northern Tawny Antpitta, Urrao (Fenwick's) Antpitta, Brown-banded Antpitta, Magdalena Tapaculo (two tiny areas, in north and south), Stiles’s Tapaculo, Tatama (Alto de Pisones) Tapaculo, Paramillo Tapaculo, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Chestnut-capped Piha (tiny range in central Andes), Antioquia Bristle-tyrant, Apical Flycatcher, Apolinar’s Wren, Colombian (Speckle-breasted) Wren, Antioquia Wren, Niceforo’s Wren, Munchique Wood-wren, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Moustached Brush-finch, Yellow-headed Brush-finch, Dusky-headed Brush-finch, Antioquia Brush-finch (tiny range), Baudo Oropendola, Bronze-brown (Bronzed) Cowbird, Red-bellied Grackle, Mountain Grackle, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Sooty Ant-tanager, Crested Ant-tanager, Turquoise Dacnis, Flame-rumped Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Multicoloured Tanager, Gold-ringed Tanager and Black-and-gold Tanager.

    (Bogota Sunangel (Nehrkorn's Sylph) may still exist - a 'blue sylph' was seen at Rogitama in the mid 2000s, and Chami (Rufous) Antpitta is recognized as a separate species by some taxonomists)

    Santa Marta Mountains 25
    Black-backed Thornbill, Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Santa Marta Sabrewing, Santa Marta Woodstar, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta (Long-tailed) Antbird, Santa Marta Antpitta, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta (Ruddy) Foliage-gleaner, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Coopman’s (Golden-faced) Tyrannulet, Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, Santa Marta Wren, Hermit (Grey-breasted) Wood-wren, Sierra Nevada (Bangs's/Colombian) Brush-finch, Santa Marta Brush-finch, Santa Marta Warbler, White-lored Warbler, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Carriker’s (Buff-breasted) Mountain-tanager and Santa Marta (Black-cheeked) Mountain-tanager.


    Colombia and Venezuela 81
    (16 hummingbirds, three puffbirds and three antpittas)
    Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Yellow-knobbed Curassow, Helmeted Curassow, Black-fronted Wood-quail, Northern Screamer, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Pygmy Swift, Orange-throated Sunangel, Longuemare’s (Amethyst-throated) Sunangel, Perija Metaltail, Coppery-bellied Puffleg, Green (Collared) Inca, Perija (Golden-bellied) Starfrontlet, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Red-billed Emerald, Coppery Emerald, Narrow-tailed Emerald, Short-tailed Emerald, Buffy Hummingbird, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Green-bellied Hummingbird, Shining-green Hummingbird, Violet-chested Hummingbird, Dwarf Cuckoo, White-tipped Quetzal, Pale-headed Jacamar, Russet-throated Puffbird, Two-banded (Russet-throated) Puffbird, Moustached Puffbird, Citron-throated (Channel-billed) Toucan, Yellow-billed (Groove-billed) Toucanet, Scaled Piculet, Chestnut Piculet, Rusty-faced Parrot, Perija (Painted) Parakeet, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Recurve-billed Bushbird, Streak-fronted (Black-crested) Antshrike, Bar-crested Antshrike, Black-backed Antshrike, Klages’s Antbird, Magdalena Antbird, Blue-lored Antbird, Perija (Rufous) Antpitta, Hooded Antpitta, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Perija Tapaculo, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Scalloped (Schwartz’s) Antthrush, Eastern Barred Woodcreeper, Caribbean (Pale-legged) Hornero, Plain (Rufous-fronted) Thornbird, Perija Thistletail, Streak-capped Spinetail, Crested Spinetail, White-whiskered Spinetail, Orinoco Spinetail, White-bibbed Manakin, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Mountain (Spectacled) Tyrannulet, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, White-bearded Flycatcher, Scrub Greenlet, Black-collared Jay, Stripe-backed Wren, Black-billed Thrush, Tocuyo Sparrow, Perija Brush-finch, Yellow-mandibled (Pectoral) Sparrow, Golden-winged Sparrow, Ochre-breasted Brush-finch, Black-fronted (Yellow-breasted) Brush-finch, Grey-throated Warbler, Yellow-crowned (Golden-crowned) Warbler, Yellow-fronted Whitestart, Vermilion Cardinal, Orinocan Saltator, Fulvous-headed Tanager, Rufous-browed Conebill, Glaucous Tanager and Black-headed (Hooded) Tanager.

    Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad & Tobago 6
    Rufous-shafted Woodstar, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Trinidad Euphonia, Venezuelan Troupial and Masked Cardinal.

    Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana 2
    Northern Festive Parrot and Red Siskin.

    Colombia, Venezuela and Guianas 1
    Lilac-tailed Parrotlet.

    Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil 7
    Orinoco Piculet, Yapacana Antbird, Grey-bellied Antbird, Yellow-throated Antwren, Brown-headed Greenlet, Azure-naped Jay and Rio Negro Gnatcatcher.

    Colombia and Brazil 1
    Chestnut-crested Antbird.

    Colombia, Brazil and Peru 2
    Plain-breasted Piculet and Varzea Thrush.

    Colombia and Ecuador 100
    (20 hummingbirds, five antpittas, an umbrellabird and 13 tanagers)
    Berlepsch’s Tinamou, Baudo Guan, Rufous-fronted Wood-quail, Dark-backed Wood-quail, Dusky Pigeon, Purple Quail-dove, Choco Poorwill, White-whiskered Hermit, Western Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Gorgeted Sunangel, Tourmaline Sunangel, Violet-tailed Sylph, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Viridian Metaltail, Hoary Puffleg, Black-thighed Puffleg, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Brown Inca, Velvet-purple Coronet, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Pink-throated Brilliant, Empress Brilliant, Western Emerald, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Gray’s Hummingbird (Blue-headed Sapphire), Banded Ground-cuckoo, Brown Wood-rail, Cloudforest Pygmy-owl, Colombian (Rufescent) Screech-owl, Choco Trogon, Choco Toucan, Plate-billed Mountain-toucan, Orange-fronted Barbet, Five-coloured Barbet, Toucan Barbet, Lita Woodpecker, Choco Woodpecker, Plumbeous Forest-falcon, Carunculated Caracara, Rose-faced Parrot, Choco (Maroon-tailed) Parakeet, Cocha Antshrike, Stub-tailed Antbird, Esmeraldas Antbird, Rufous-crowned Pittasoma, Giant Antpitta, Moustached Antpitta, Bicoloured Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Crescent-faced Antpitta, Narino Tapaculo, Spillmann’s Tapaculo, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Uniform Treehunter, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Club-winged Manakin, Yellow-headed Manakin, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Chestnut-bellied Cotinga (likely to occur in north Peru), Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Pacific Flatbill, Northern Ornate Flycatcher, Choco Tyrannulet, Coopmans’s Elaenia, Plain-capped Ground-tyrant, Black-billed Peppershrike, Pale-legged (Slaty-capped) Shrike-vireo, Choco Vireo, Beautiful Jay, Quindio (Black-collared) Jay, Black Solitaire, Chestnut-throated (Rufous-brown) Solitaire, Tanager Finch, Dusky Bush-tanager, Choco (Tricoloured) Brush-finch, White-rimmed Brush-finch, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, Choco (Golden-bellied) Warbler, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Yellow-tufted (Black-faced) Dacnis, Black-winged Saltator, Western Black-eared Hemispingus, Stolzmann’s Tanager (Black-backed Bush Tanager), Ochraceous (Cinereous) Conebill, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Yellow-green Tanager (Chlorospingus), Moss-backed Tanager, Golden-chested Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Yellow-faced (Flame-faced) Tanager and Blue-whiskered Tanager.

    Colombia, Ecuador and Peru 38
    Pallid Dove, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Green-backed (White-tailed) Hillstar, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Cinnamon Screech-owl, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Brown Nunlet, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Pacific Parrotlet, Yasuni Stipplethroat (Antwren), Chestnut-naped Antpitta, White-bellied Antpitta, Western Tawny Antpitta, Long-tailed Tapaculo, Paramo Tapaculo, Pacific Hornero, Spectacled Prickletail, Grey-tailed Piha, Dusky Piha, Foothill Schiffornis, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Orange-eyed Flatbill (Flycatcher), Ochraceous Attila, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Mouse-grey (Bran-coloured) Flycatcher, Turquoise Jay, Plain-tailed Wren, Orange-crowned Euphonia, Ecuadorian Cacique, Scrub Blackbird, Ecuadorian (Blue) Seedeater, Masked Saltator, Masked Mountain-tanager and Golden-naped Tanager.

    The very long list includes guans, Northern Screamer, Torrent Duck, American Flamingo, Scarlet Ibis, Magnificent Frigatebird, many raptors including King Vulture and Aplomado Falcon, Wattled Jacana, Noble Snipe, pigeons, doves, parakeets, parrots, Oilbird, many hummingbirds (many at feeders), Golden-headed Quetzal, trogons, motmots, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, puffbirds, Red-headed Barbet, Chestnut-mandibled, Citron-throated and Keel-billed Toucans, Black-billed and Grey-breasted Mountain-toucans, woodpeckers, foliage-gleaners, spinetails, woodcreepers, antshrikes, antwrens, antbirds, antpittas (several at worm-feeders), tapaculos including Ocellated, tyrannulets, pygmy tyrants such as Rufous-headed and Black-capped (the smallest passerine in the world along with Short-tailed Pygmy Tyrant), tody tyrants, tody flycatchers, flycatchers, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Dusky and Olivaceous Pihas, fruiteaters including Golden-breasted and Scaled, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, manakins including Golden-winged, Lance-tailed and White-bearded, becards, tityras, Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo, wrens, Long-billed Gnatwren, White-capped Dipper, wintering warblers such as Blackburnian, Cerulean and Prothonotary, conebills, hemispinguses, mountain tanagers, numerous tanagers including Flame-faced, Golden, Golden-crowned, Grass-green, Red-hooded and White-capped, Rosy Thrush Tanager, dacnises, honeycreepers, Plushcap, flowerpiercers, brush finches, orioles, oropendolas, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia and euphonias. Also a chance of wood quails, Blue-and-yellow and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, Lanceolated Monklet, Black-capped Donacobius and Sapayoa.


    Cotton-top and Silvery-brown Bare-faced Tamarins, Caqueta, Colombian Black-handed and Ornate Titis, Brumback’s (Lemurine) Night Monkey, Colombian Woolly Monkey and Varied White-fronted Capuchin.

    Variegated (Brown) Spider Monkey and Grey-handed Night Monkey.

    Pygmy Marmoset, Cotton-top, Geoffroy's, Lesson’s Saddle-back, Mottle-faced (Diablito) and White-footed Tamarins, Golden-backed (Black) Uakari, Black-handed (Medem’s/Collared) and Lucifer (Yellow-handed/Collared) Titis (and hybrids), Colombian (Venezuelan) Red Howler, Common (Brown) Woolly Monkey, Spix’s (Noisy) Night Monkey, Brown (Tufted) and White-throated (White-faced) Capuchins, Common Squirrel Monkey (albigena and macrocephalus subspecies), White-bellied and White-fronted Spider Monkeys, Orinoco River Dolphin (Boto), Brazilian Porcupine, Giant Anteater, Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and Western (Brown-eared) Woolly Opossum.

    The fantastic variety of butterflies includes clearwings, crackers, heliconids, morphos and satyrs.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Colombia

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Colombia

    The best times to visit are from December to February (the driest season) and from June to mid-September (another relatively dry period). During the wet seasons some roads may be closed due to landslides and so on.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Colombia

    Birds of Colombia by Steven L Hilty. Lynx Edicions, 2021.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia by M McMullan et al. Rey Naranjo Editores, 2018 (Third Edition).

    A Guide to the Birds of Colombia by S Hilty and W L Brown. PUP, 1986.

    Birds of South America: Non-Passerines: Rheas to Woodpeckers by F Erize, J R Mata and M Rumboll. PUP, 2007.

    Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press/Helm, 2009 (Updated paperback edition of books listed next with 400 more illustrations).

    The Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 1989 and 1994 (two volumes).

    Birds of Northern South America by R Restall, C Rodner and M Lentino. Helm, 2006 (Two volumes).

    Mammals of South America by R D Lord. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

    Neotropical Rainforest Mammals by L H Emmons. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

    Butterflies of South America by B D’Abrera. Hill House, 1984.

    Apps etc.

    All Birds Colombia by Bloomsbury/Sunbird Images.

    Where to watch birds in South America by N Wheatley. Helm, 1994.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in South America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Colombia

    Many trip reports, some for Colombia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Colombia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Colombia' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Colombia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Colombia

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Colombia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Colombia in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.