Monserrate Hummingbird is the New Highlight of Monserrate Hill in Bogotá

The Monserrate Hummingbird is the new hummingbird hybrid recently discovered on the ecotourism trails of Monserrate hill in Bogotá.

Monserrate is the most prominent tourist attraction in Bogotá. It is 3000 meters high, and it is placed over the eastern hills of the eastern cordillera of the colombian Andes.

Monserrate Hill and Forests

The Paramuno Ecological Trail

The Monserrate hill inaugurated a new ecotourism corridor for bird watching at the end of 2020. The trail received the name of “Paramuno”.

“Paramuno” is an ecological trail located at the top of Monserrate and has 360-meter long. There you can appreciate the forests and cotemplate nature. It is a path designed to watch and photograph birds.

Paramuno Trail ©Bogotá Birding

Because it is located at the top of Monserrate, you can observe a variety of birds typical of the High Andean Forest ecosystem.

The trail is easy to access and it is over a flat terrain. The tour is easy to follow; likewise, the best conditions of security, attention and service are provided.

Paramuno trail honors the hummingbird species Shining sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis), called Paramuno in Spanish.

The Shining sunbeam is a predominant species of the high mountain environments. It is common not only in Bogotá, but throughout the country.

Shining Sunbeam – Aglaeactis cupripennis

The place is so important, that Reuters Agency invited people to visit the trail, calling it a “Hummingbird sanctuary provides respite from stresses of Bogota city life“.

Several feeders frame the path, and allow visitors to appreciate different species of hummingbirds. Among them, the Paramuno, which can be distinguished by its cinnamon color.

Up to 18 different species of high mountain hummingbirds can be seen in the ecological corridor. So far, up to 115 species of birds, and some migratory species, have been recorded along the Paramuno trail.

Among them, the Silvery-throated Spinetail (Synallaxis subpudica), a species endemic to the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá; the Coppery-bellied puffleg (Eriocnemis cupreoventris), the Rufous-browed conebill (Conirostrum rufum), and the Golden-fronted whitestart (Myioborus ornatus), and almost endemic species, which have a fairly restricted distribution in the country.

The Monserrate Hybrid

This small and impressive new jewel of the hummingbirds of Colombia, has been the focus of attention of several birders in Bogotá.

Monserrate Hybrid ©Bogotá Birding

It was on Paramuno where the hybrid hummingbird was discovered. This supposed hybrid seems to be the product of the crossing of two species that in theory could not mate.

“This new hummingbird may be a cross between the Golden-bellied starfrontlet (Coeligena bonapartei) and the Blue-throated Starfrontlet (Coeligena helianthea). It is believed to be a hybrid because it has coloration that is intermediate between these two species”

Said Camilo Cantor, the trail manager.

These two species do not share territory. Each of them lives on a different side of the mountain range. That makes the appearance of the hybrid even more misterious and special.

The Origin of the Hybrid

Yet, the ornithologist and tourist guide, Oswaldo Cortés, talked about two possible origins of the hybrid.

One of them is that it may be a hybrid between Golden Bellied starfrontlet and Blue-throated Starfrontlet. The second guess is that it may be a genetic mutation of some individuals of the Blue-throated Starfrontlet.

He said both scenarios are possible, but not proven yet. The mystery will be solved in future scientific researches. Meanwhile, we can marvel at the beauty of this small bird.

The discovery of this bird has caused a great stir, and today it is one of Monserrate’s bird highlights.

The Importance of Hummingbirds and Conservation

More than bright colors and an undisputed beauty, hummingbirds have a fundamental role as pollinators, some of them associated exclusively to native plant species.

Colombia is the country with the most hummingbird species in the world. Currently there are approximately 165 species of hummingbirds registered in Colombia.

Find the 17 most interesting species in our blog 17 Unique Hummingbirds of Colombia and Where to Find Them.

Sadly, both, hummingbirds and their natural habitat are at risk. The vegetation in the Monserrate reserves has been greatly affected by man’s hand.

For this reason, work has been carried out to recover the ecosystem and the forests in the area. Discoveries like this bird are a great motivation to continue with the recovery and conservation of these forests.

Your visit is also important because it helps to generate more awareness about the value of birds. It also generates employment for local people, and ultimately represents an economic incentive to continue protecting and conserving our natural wealth.

Know more about the birding hotspots in Bogotá in our entry Where to go for Birdwatching in Bogotá? Complete Bogotá Bird Guide.

Recommendations for the Visit

To make your visit to the Paramuno Ecological trail you can book directly on Monserrate’s website, or contact us.

  • Wear comfortable and warm clothing.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • As a precaution, children under 10 years old are not allowed.
  • Follow all the recommendations of the Supervisor of the trail.
  • Be punctual.

It is forbiden:

  • The use of playback.
  • Leaving waste on the trail.
  • Feed the birds.
  • Jumping over guard rails and fences.
  • Pets.

If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!

About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.


Wetlands of Bogotá are the Best Spots for Birdwatching in the City

The accelerated and unplanned urban expansion of Bogotá in the last 50 years has been the most preponderant factor in the notable reduction and deterioration of its wetlands. Global warming, pollution, the disposal of garbage, rubble and household waste are a great threat to the wetlands of Bogota, putting at risk the species that inhabit these ecosystems.

Unfortunately, the species most affected by the deterioration of the wetlands are birds, especially migratory birds. At the moment, one species endemic to Colombia and the Bogotá savannah is already extinct, and another three are in serious danger of disappearing. For this reason, the protection and adequate management of Bogota’s wetlands is a priority for the conservation of endemic and associated threatened species. Also for the migratory birds whose survival depends on the health of this ecosystem.

Ecological tours are one of the conservation strategies for people to enjoy and visit these ecosystems.

Bogota Natural Areas. Wetlands Represented in Blue. Image by Bogotá City Hall.

Ramsar category Wetlands of Bogotá

Bogotá is the first city in Colombia to have an urban wetlands complex with the highest environmental certification in the world, and is also the only city in Latin America with ecosystems in this category. These are 11 of the 14 Wetland District Ecological Parks, PEDH, which with a total of 667.38 hectares, meet the criteria of the International Ramsar Convention.

The Ramsar category urban wetlands complex is integrated by the wetlands: Tibanica, la Vaca Norte, El Burro, El Tunjo, Capellanía, Santa María del Lago, Córdoba, Jaboque, Juan Amarillo, La Conejera and Torca-Guaymaral.

This recognition also highlights the ecological value of these urban ecosystems as permanent and transitional habitat for a significant number of plant species, mammals and water and migratory birds ─ Many migratory birds have the urban wetlands of Bogotá as strategic points for recovering energy and finding food, shelter and rest.

Wetlands Birds of Bogotá

Bogotá’s wetlands are home to more than 200 species of birds, including three endemic, two of which are endangered: the Bogotá Rail (EN) (Rallus semiplumbeus), the Apolinar’s Wren (EN) (Cistothorus apolinari) and the Silvery-throated Spinetail (Synallaxis subpudica). It can also be found the almost endemic and endangered bird, the Rufous-browed Conebill (Conirostrum rufum).

In addition, nine locally endemic subspecies can be found in Bogotá’s wetlands:

  • Spot-flanked Gallinule (Porphyriops melanops bogotensis)

  • Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis andina)

  • American Coot (Fulica americana columbiana)

  • Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus bogotensis)

  • Grassland Yellow-Finch (Montane) (Sicalis luteola bogotensis)

  • Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis bogotensis)

  • Spot-billed Ground Tyrant (Muscisaxicola maculirostris niceforoi)

  • Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris peregrina)

  • Yellow-hooded Blackbird (Chrysomus icterocephalus bogotensis)

Migratory birds in Bogotá

The Bogotá wetlands and their forest edges provide suitable habitats for many of the migratory birds recorded in Colombia. However, the number of species that may be present in the wetlands depends on the quality of the habitats and their geographical location, mainly distance from the coast and height above sea level. It is possible that the remaining wetlands in Bogotá have become a unique and fundamental refuge within urban landscapes that are inhospitable to migratory birds.

The richness of migratory bird life in the Bogotá wetlands can be attributed to two factors: (1) the presence of both aquatic and terrestrial habitats that attract diverse species and (2) the geographic location of Bogotá, on the main migration route of the species that enter South America through the Darien and continue to the Amazon, the foothills of the Andes or Patagonia.

Of the almost 650 species that breed in North America, about 200 species are Neotropical migrants and approximately 125 of them frequently arrive in Colombia. Of these, about 65 arrive in the wetlands of Bogotá. Migratory birds require quality habitats in their non-breeding areas and depend on them year after year. The Bogotá savannah is an important stopover site before and after the birds cross the high parts of the Eastern mountain range of the Colombian Andes.

Most Neotropical migratory birds recorded in Colombia arrive mainly in the months of September and October. After six to nine months in the country, they head north again between April and May. Some of these species are only in transit, passing through Colombia on their way to non-breeding areas further south, stopping only for rest or to increase their energy reserves.

Generally speaking, the migratory species that arrive in Colombia are divided into two main groups, represented by a similar number of species: aquatic and terrestrial. Thirteen are classified as species of concern in North America, due to population declines, and are therefore listed as priorities for conservation. Sixty species are Boreal migrants and five are Southern migrants. The new world warblers (Parulidae) is the most represented family, with 12 species, followed by the tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae), and shorebirds, sandpipers and snipes (Scolopacidae) are also well represented.

It is important to highlight the presence of the Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea), categorized by BirdLife (2013) as Vulnerable (VU) at a global level, due to habitat degradation. Another important bird is the as well as the Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi), a species considered almost threatened (NT) globally. Other species that do not qualify as globally threatened, but are listed as of greater concern in North America, and are relatively abundant in the wetlands of Bogotá, include the Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria), the Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) and the Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis).

Endangered bird species of Bogota’s wetlands

Colombian grebe – Podiceps andinus – Agencia de Noticias UNAL

Locally, the Colombian grebe (Podiceps andinus), was a endemic species that inhabited the wetlands. It has already become extinct due to pressure on these ecosystems. The last time this grebe was seen was in 1977 in Lake Tota, near Bogotá. It frequented the lagoons of the Cundinamarca-Boyacá savannah, but it seems that erosion, contamination, drainage and the deterioration of water quality were putting an end to it. Its disappearance is also attributed to the change in vegetation in the habitats it frequented.

Similarly, Apolinar’s Wren and Subtropical Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx acutipennis) are found along the same path. In the wetlands and lagoons of the Eastern Cordillera, especially in the Cundinamarca-Boyacá highlands, some individuals of the Apolinar’s Wren can still be seen. But the contamination of the wetlands and possibly the action of global climate change seem to be affecting its populations. The Apolinar’s Wren can be seen in the La Florida wetland in Bogotá, and in Sumapaz National Park.

Apolinar’s Wren – Cistothorus apolinari E – Sumapaz

The Subtropical Doradito, on the other hand, is in a similar situation to the Apolinar’s Wren. Its records are scarce in the wetlands of the Sabana de Bogotá. It travels by short flights between the reeds of the wetlands. The Subtropical Doradito can be seen in the wetlands of Bogotá Jaboque or La Florida.

Bogotá Wetlands you can visit

Paradoxically, not all the Ramsar Wetlands in Bogotá can be visited. Of the 14 wetlands, only three of them are suitable to be visited. However, only two of them have the highest environmental certification worldwide Ramsar: Santa Maria del Lago and Córdoba.

La Florida Park Wetland

La Florida Park is the most important Regional Park in Bogota. It is located in the district of Engativá, at kilometer 4, via Engativá – Cota. It is a spot for ecotourism in Bogotá.

It has 267 green hectares and a lake that was enabled as an area for bird watching, with a modern bird observatory with strict bio-construction standards. It is a place very visited by nationals and foreigners. There you can find more than 75 species of birds, including those that live in the neighboring Jaboque wetland, among them the Bogotá Rail and the Apolinar’s Wren.

Santa Maria del Lago Wetland

Located in the district of Engativá, near Calle 80. You can get there using Transmilenio, getting off at the station Minuto de Dios. In the Santa María del Lago wetland there is a bird watching tower, and a path that borders the entire wetland area, with green areas where the American Coot (Fulica americana) can be seen.

Córdoba Wetland

The Cordoba Wetland District Ecological Park, located in the north of Bogota, in the middle of the noblest neighborhoods, has 40.4 hectares. It connects with the Cordoba and Molinos canals, to the west with the lake of the Choquenza Club, Los Lagartos Club and the Juan Amarillo Wetland, forming the Córdoba-Juan Amarillo system. The Córdoba wetland has three sectors:

  • Sector one: Located on 127th Street to the north, it borders the Monaco, Prado Veraniego Sur and Canódromo neighborhoods, and is the smallest and least visited of the three in the city.
  • Sector two: Located between Cordoba Avenue and Suba Avenue, it borders the Batan, Potosi, Puente Largo, Santa Rosa neighborhoods and a series of residential areas such as Córdoba Parks and Solis del Restrepo. Recently, works were carried out in this sector with paths, viewpoints and a bridge that allow greater comfort for visitors. In addition, seven small islands were adapted, where several species of reeds and trees were planted in order to restore the vegetation that serves as food and shelter for the fauna of the site.
  • Sector Three: It is the lower part of the wetland. The extension of this sector is 21.4 hectares It extends between Suba and Boyacá Avenues. It borders the neighborhoods Pontevedra, San Nicolas, Julio Florez and Niza Sur.

About 85 species of birds have been detected here, distributed in 62 genera and 32 families.

Other animals you can find in the Bogotá wetlands.

Bogotá grass mouse – Neomicroxus bogotensis. Picture by iNaturalist

According to the iNaturalist platform, around 767 species of living beings have been found in the wetlands of Bogotá, including all animal, plant and fungi groups.

Among them we can highlight: the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) which was introduced, the endemic Green dotted treefrog (Dendropsophus molitor), the endemic Thickhead ground snake (Atractus crassicaudatus), the quase endemic guinea pig (Cavia aperea anolaimae), the Andean white-eared opossum (Didelphis pernigra), the Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), the endemic Bogotá grass mouse or Bogotá akodont (Neomicroxus bogotensis), the Bogotá yellow-shouldered bat (Sturnira bogotensis), the Hoary bat (Aeorestes cinereus), the Red-tailed squirrel (Notosciurus granatensis), the Highland yellow-shouldered bat (Sturnira ludovici), the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and the Desert red bat (Lasiurus blossevillii), among others.


  • iNaturalist Website
  • Bogota Ornithological Association (ABO)
  • Bogotá Wetlands Foundation
  • News Agency Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • Aves de la Sabana de Bogotá, guía de campo. Primera edición. Bogotá; ABO, CAR. Bogotá, Colombia. Asociación Bogotana de Ornitología.
  • Chaparro-Herrera, S., & Ochoa, D. (2015). Aves de los Humedales de Bogotá, Aportes para su Conservación. Asociación Bogotana de Ornitología-ABO-. Bogotá DC.
  • Rappole, J. H. 1995. The ecology of migrant birds: A Neotropical perspective. Wash., DC: Smithsonian Inst. Press.

About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

The Biggest Páramo in the World is in Colombia: Know the Sumapaz Park

The Páramo de Sumapaz National Natural Park is an important reservoir of biological, ecological and genetic diversity in Colombia, and the world, with high presence of endemic plants and animals. It is also one of the largest water reserves in the country.

Under the post-conflict scenario, the Páramo of Sumapaz ceased to be a military corridor, as it happened for almost 54 years during the war conflict. Unfortunately, this conflict left a sad mark in some areas of the park: antipersonnel mines.

Currently, the government and some international NGOs are making progress in a process for humanitarian demining in the context of the PEACE process.

These areas are closed to visitors, but it is recommended to have authorized touristic service providers to visit the place.

Despite all of this, nowadays the park it becomes one of Colombia’s natural treasures, important to be better explored and conserved. It is a great compromise to protect this place from extensive agriculture and livestock, from mining, construction and real estate projects, and from irresponsible tourism.

Undoubtedly, Colombia has the largest and most beautiful Páramo in Colombia, and perhaps the planet. To be there is to contemplate the mastery of nature and feel gratitude for such a fabulous gift.

Paramo de Sumapaz

7 Facts about the Páramo de Sumapaz

  1. The Sumapaz Páramo is one of the largest and the biggest protected paramo in the world.
  2. It is part of the 36 páramos complexes present in Colombia.
  3. It has a unique ecosystem, fauna and flora to the planet.
  4. There have been reported about 260 species of mammals.
  5. It is the origin of crystalline rivers that cover the Andean geography and the center of the country.
  6. It is located in five municipalities of the department of Cundinamarca (Pasca, Arbeláez, San Bernardo, Cabrera and Gutiérrez); six municipalities of the department of Meta (Acacias, Guamal, Cubarral, El Castillo, Lejanías and Uribe), one municipality in the department of Huila (Colombia) and two districts in Bogotá (Usme and Sumapaz).
  7. It is monitored by several environmental authorities, such as Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the National Unit of Natural Parks, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (CAR), the Autonomous Corporation of Huila (CAM) and the Autonomous Corporation of Macarena (CORMACARENA).

Birding at Páramo de Sumapaz

This beautiful, huge national Park of Colombia encompasses large protected Paramo and is a large watershed for the city of Bogotá. Reached by a smooth, roughly 1 1/2-hour ride from the city center (get there early to avoid the traffic jam in the city) it makes it, together with Chingaza National Park, a prime destination for high altitude species.

Birding is easy and done mainly from a very dusty road, as access to the National Park is restricted. The road is currently being paved, which will make birding much more comfortable in near future!

Once you leave the suburban sprawl of Bogota in Usme, the shear uncontrolled growth of this Megapolis is visible below you and on the close mountain slopes.

Finally, higher up, concrete gets replaced by potato fields, cars by horses and noise by birdsongs! Once you reach the tree-line (Elfin forest) good birding starts.

Apolinar’s Wren – Cistothorus apolinari – ENDEMIC

Listen for the endemic Silvery-throated Spinetail and Pale-bellied Tapaculo, both skulking species. Tawny Antpitta is one of the easiest Antpittas to see, as it often sings from exposes perches. Here, it is represented by subspecies alticola.

Mixed flocks can contain Andean Tit-Spinetail, White-throated Tyrannulet, Rufous Wren, the gaudy Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, several Flowerpiercers, Rufous-browed Conebill, Pale-naped Brush Finch & others.

A little further along the road, before your reach the pass, two of the main attractions occur side by side, and both are Hummingbirds.

Bronze-tailed Thornbill – Chalcostigma heteropogon

The range-restricted Bronze-tailed Thornbill & endemic Green-bearded Helmetcrest! The Thornbill is a territorial species. Look for it in vegetation close to the road.

The Helmetcrest is fond of Espeletia (local name “Frailejones”, a plant from the Asteraceae Family) which is in full bloom from late June – August. This might be the best time to see the Helmetcrest. And that’s when this spectacular, unique landscape looks even better.

Green-bearded Helmetcrest – Oxypogon guerinii, female – ENDEMIC

Both species can be seen fairly reliably at most other times, too. If lucky, both species can be observed feeding, clinging to flowers, as many highland Hummingbird species do!

Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager – Dubusia taeinatia

A particular good spot for the Helmetcrest is immediately adjacent to the large lagoon at the park entrance (There’s a sign of the Helmetcrest and a parking area to the right if coming from Bogotá). The lagoon to your left has typical cushion plants bordering it. That makes it perfect habitat for the critically endangered and endemic Bogota Rail and the more common Noble Snipe.

Many-striped Canastero – Asthenes flammulata

Many-striped Canastero and White-chinned Thistletail are to be looked for too, but it’s certainly the endemic Apolinar’s Wren which most people expect to see here. It occurs in fact in good numbers here, especially where there is Dwarf Bamboo – a plant required – for nesting.

The Wren is represented by the subspecies hernandezi, different from apolinari, the race occurring in the Sabana de Bogotá. Locate Apolinar’s Wren by its regularly performed song duets. The similar Sedge Wren occurs side by side with Apolinar’s Wren. Look and listen carefully…Exploring further along the Road can be good for Paramo Seedeater and more of the mentioned above.

Plain-colored Seedeater – Catamenia inornata

If you visit first time, remember that Sumapaz is a high-altitude site. Protect yourself from sun, hydrate properly and take things slow. The air is thin up there. Also protect your equipment from heavy dust (know how to do it here).

About the authors

Jérôme Fischer

Professional bird guide, swiss native, with more than 32 years of experience guiding hardcore birders and birdwatching tours. He has been focused in bird identification. He also travelled many countries, starting in Switzerland and then exploring south America, the most biodiverse continent in the world, becoming specialized in Neotropical birds.

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.