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.

Birding around the main cities of Colombia: Know the Best Spots

Birds are everywhere, even in the middle of the big cities, the only thing you must do to discover them is to connect with nature, by doing urban birding. Cities are, in fact, real jungles, with specific and unique fauna and flora and ecological networks, like any other environment on Earth. Only this one has a high level of human intervention, and birds are where you least expect them: flying high in the sky, perched on top of buildings or antennas, nesting on your ledge, eating seeds in your neighborhood park, waiting for the leftovers you leave somewhere, in a lake, in the pool and even on lamp posts!

The activity of identifying a bird in the city requires paying attention to what is around, the trees, the houses, the buildings, the sounds and the colors, apart from a good field guide of course. Many birders travel to remote nature destinations to find exotic birds and tick their checklists -Colombia is becoming a top birding destination. However, birding has moved to the cities of the world in recent times and people are discovering the huge birdlife that goes unnoticed in the urban everyday life. Urban birding is now a trend and we will talk about the basics of urban birding and the best urban birding spots in Colombia.

Urban Birding in Colombia according to ‘The Urban Birder’

David Lindo is a wildlife broadcaster, writer, educator, lecturer, and birding tour guide from London, England. Lindo, also known as ‘The Urban Birder‘, is passionate about looking for birds in urban environments as well as sharing his passion with others and promoting conservation for those birds with whom we share our lives in the cities.

He was at the Colombia Bird Fair 2020 to give a speech about urban birds and bird migration within cities. This was his second time in the country and both experiences were mind-blowing. We had the possibility to interview him on birdwatching tourism, bird conservation and urban birding in Colombia.

“Birdwatching tourism is essential when it comes to conservation” – he told us. This is about a cycle where the bird diversity in one region attracts birders and other kinds of tourists, meaning money entering the local economy. When locals see that people are investing in the region because of birds, they realize they need to protect that resource in order to attract more tourists. In a more holistic perspective, the promotion of ecotourism ensures the protection of natural areas because people actually enjoy visiting and discovering the wildlife that inhabit those areas. This is essential for rural and urban birding spots, and citizens must protect the little nature that is left in the concrete jungle.

The Urban Birder thinks that more people should come to Colombia because it has more species of birds than any other country in the world. For example, Cali -speaking of the Colombia Birdfair host city, a city with over 2 million people, has more than 500 bird species, which is incredible for an urban birder. This is something that Colombians should definitely feel proud of.

7 tips for urban birding in Colombia

  1. Feel safe. An unfamiliar city in a Latin country can seem scary. However, Colombian cities are safe, without denying that there are places where it is advisable to be careful. Always go birding in the company of guides or trusted friends who know the area and its neighbours well. In any case “don’t give papaya!
  2. Bring your local bird guide book, and be amazed at how many birds you can find! Some recommendations here.
  3. Don’t worry if you cannot identify all the birds you see. There are a lot of different species and some are similar, identifying the features of birds is something that comes with time and practice.
  4. When you go out birding, turn off your mind to all the urban sounds and try to tune in to nature’s wave. After a while, you will start hearing and seeing things you never expected.
  5. Once you get the hang of it, try urban birding every day for 10 or 30 minutes. Include birding in your routine, before work or school, and you will feel great!
  6. After you have gotten used to urban birding, it is time to buy a pair of binoculars -go to a store and try ones that suit you- and a birding guide for identification.
  7. Above all else, just look up!

Watch the full interview with David Lindo (LINK)

Urban Birding Spots in Colombia

Colombian cities are characterized by large patches of green areas in municipal parks, monuments, sanctuaries, zoos, and universities. This plant cover, usually composed by native species, is home to many species of birds, as well as mammals and insects. As Colombia has big cities in all the different thermal floors, in all the different mountain ranges and with all the possibilities of ecosystems, it is possible to check a great number of bird species when visiting its main cities. Urban birding is a good opportunity to integrate with the culture and biodiversity of the country, since during and after a day of birding in the city you can get to know the city and also enjoy the local cuisine, historical places, understand the culture, and notice the main attractions of each city that you can also visit during your trip.

Urban Birding Spots in Bogotá

Of course, the capital of Colombia is the first on the list of urban birding spots, as it has plenty of green areas that attract birdlife. Check out our complete guide for Birdwatching in Bogotá, to get detailed information.

La Florida Regional Park

~ 337 species

The district of Engativá, in the west edge of Bogota, hosts a great park, renowned among the bogotanos and also visited by tourists. This is La Florida Regional Park, an area of 267 hectares of forest and wetland for the enjoyment and relaxation of the community. The complete facilities include basketball, football, volleyball, tennis courts, skating and figure skating rinks, a camping zone, a playground, kiosks, a 2 km walking trail and a natural lake for water sports. The lake zone is where birders can tour in search of endemic and migratory birds. Here you can observe 3 endemic species to Bogota: the Silvery-Throated Spinetail, Apolinar’s Wren and the Bogota Rail, along with other ~300 species.

Monserrate Sanctuary

~ 200 species

It is hard not to notice the white church watching the city from any point in Bogota. At 3,152 meters above sea level, Monserrate is one of the most iconic symbols of Bogota.  The sanctuary and monastery built in the 17th century is a pilgrimage and tourist site enclosed in lush vegetation. The area has high Andean forests, Eucalyptus and Pine forests that host diverse wildlife, although it has partially disappeared over time. You can climb whether in cable car, funicular or -if you are a fit person, on foot.

During the hike, if you are going on foot, you will hear the song of the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and find a family of Andean Guans. At the top of the mountain, in the gardens of the sanctuary, you have one of the best views of the city while also having a chance to observe different high-altitude birds. There are at least 58 bird species, including: Silvery-Throated Spinetail, Rufous-Browed Conebill, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Golden-Fronted Whitestart, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Shining Sunbeam, Glowing Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, White-bellied Woodstar, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain Tanager, Black Flowerpiercer, Grey-Browed and Pale-Naped Brush Finches, Andean Siskin, among other birds.

José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden

~ 180 species

Bogota’s botanical garden not only preserves biodiversity amid a concrete jungle but works as a research center and provides cultural and educational activities for citizens. As a proof of the success of its operating model, 50,000 people visit the garden each year. Named after the Spanish priest, who was also a botanist, physician, geographer, mathematician and teacher Jose Celestino Mutis, who was the first naturalist to make a complete research in the territory of the New Kingdom of Granada, in Spanish “Nuevo Reino de Granada”, an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia which lasted from 1538 to 1739,  during the “Expedición Botánica” (Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada). His work inspired a long tradition of studies on the fauna and flora fields of the country.

The Botanical Garden of Bogotá has 20 hectares of land containing 300 plant families, and its highlighted species of birds are the Scrub Tanager, Rufous-browed Conebill, Mountain Elaenia, Rusty and Black Flowerpiercers, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Siskin. At the end of the year, you can also see several migratory birds.

Quinta de Bolívar Museum

~ 60 species

Quinta de Bolívar Museum serves as a tribute to the legacy of Simón Bolívar. The entrance of the museum lies in front of Montserrate and boasts several gardens that attract many birds, especially hummingbirds. Inside the museum there are 24 different areas with unique furniture of the XVII and XIX centuries, some of the pieces were from Bolivar himself, since he owned the house for 10 years. This may not be the most common bird watching site, however, here you enjoy spectacular views of some birds of the area and have the chance to learn about one of the most important figures in Colombia history. Among the birds found here are the Lesser Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, White-bellied Woodstar, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, and Black Flowerpiercer. The entrance is free every Sunday.

Javeriana University

~ 35 species

Pontificia Universidad Javeriana is a Catholic university founded in 1623 by the Society of Jesus in the east zone of the city of Bogota, on the foothills of the eastern cordillera. Its campus has 18 hectares, with 202,988 m2 of buildings and abundant vegetation. In fact, the university has carried out a process of ecological restoration for 10 years. A recent infographic guide published by the Ornithology Javeriano Group details 35 of the most common birds in the campus, characterized by a high Andean forest at 2,640 MASL. Among them, Sparkling Violetear, Canada Warbler, Purple Gallinule, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Red-eye Vireo.

Humedal Santa María del Lago

~ 35 species

It is one of the wetlands with the best water quality and most visited in the city. It has a bird observatory, an auditorium, bathrooms and signs. It is located northwest of Bogota, in the town of Engativá, between carreras 73 and 76. It is made up of 10.86 hectares of which 5.64 form the water mirror. In the wetland you can find birds from the savannah forests of Bogotá, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Siskin, or the Lesser Goldfinch, as well as birds from aquatic environments such as Purple Gallinule, American Coot and Common Gallinule among others.

Urban Birding Spots in Cali

The Urban Birder’s city guide highlights some spots for urban birding in Cali:

Zoologico de Cali

~ 123 Especies

Walking around the city’s zoo you can spot groups of Common Ground Dove looking for food in the ground, Great Kiskadee in the trees and wires singing their name, along with Streaked Saltator, Guira Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Spot-breasted Woodpecker… As for the aquatic birds, the Neotropic Cormorants are seen constantly diving, while the Green Kingfisher perch silently on low shaded branches waiting for the moment to plunge after fish. During the migration season, you will find the Blackburnian Warbler and Tropical Parula, both of which belong the New World warblers group.

Cali River and El Gato del Rio Park

~ 100 species

If you walk along the riverside that flows next to the zoo, you will easily find several species such as Red-crowned Woodpeckers, which commute between the trees and nearby gardens; hummingbirds including the Brown Violetear feeding outside some houses, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Vermillion Flycatcher and Yellow-olive Flycatcher; Black-billed Thrush, Black Phoebe on the rocks near water; as well as the Black-crowned Night Heron and Snowy Egret vigilant to ambush prey.

Downstream the Cali river, 10 minutes on foot from the San Antonio hill, you find El Gato del Rio which is a park area with a big, bronze statue of a cat made by the Colombian artist Hernando Tejada. This is not only a place to hang out with friends but to spot Safron Finch, Common Tody Flycatcher, flocks of Spectacled Parrotlet, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Yellow-headed Caracara in the treetops and Black Vulture overflying the zone.

Lago de las Garzas Eco Park

~ 60 species

To the southwest edge of Cali, Lago de las Garzas – or Heron Lake, is a public eco park consisting of an artificial lake surrounded by about 400 trees, where people go to relax, have a picnic, walk along interpretive trails and observe wildlife. The clumsy Greater Ani can be found here crashing around in the foliage. Other species are Striated Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Bare-faced Ibis, Neotropic Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, hidden in the bushes is the Grey-necked Wood Rail. There are also hummingbirds, and species as the Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Rusty-margined Flycatcher and the Common Potoo.

The Pance River Eco Park

~ 205 species

Southwest of “La Sucursal del Cielo”, a local name to refer to Cali city, is this beloved weekend destination for the locals, just 20 minutes by bus from the city. This natural bathing spot is in the municipality of Pance at 1,200 m a.s.l. in average and receives many caleñas families that seek to enjoy nature in the eastern slope of the Western Cordillera, covered by tropical dry forest and premontane wet forest. Along the crystal clear, rocky waters of the river, you can go birding and find the Colombian Chachalaca, Andean Motmot, Green Kingfisher, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Golden-collared Manakin, Green Hermit, the Collared Trogon and Red-Headed Barbet, among other species.

Valle University

~ 150 species

This public university located in southern Cali is the second largest university campus in Colombia, after Universidad Nacional in Bogotá. Nature is a protagonist here, with a dry tropical forest ecosystem, and 20 years ago there were 80 resident species and 13 boreal migrants recorded in 1 km2 of the campus (know more here). The five most abundant species are the Cattle egret, Vermillion Flycatcher, Black-billed Thrush, Tropical Kingbird and the Blue-gray Tanager. Apart from these birds, you can see the Streak-Headed Woodcreeper, Baltimore Oriole, Tropical Parula, Yellow Warbler and the Scrub Tanager, among the other 150 bird species.

Farallones Country Club

~ 177 species

This prestigious country club 45 minutes from the center of Cali is the place where caleños go to practice golf, tennis, soccer and other sports with a view of Farallones de Cali, the mountain range that gives the club its name, and if you play on a clear day, it is possible to see the majestic snow-capped volcano of Huila to the south east. Its garden shelter about 170 species of birds, among which are the Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Purple Gallinule, Colombian Chachalaca and the Grayish Piculet.

Urban Birding Spots in Medellín

These are the best places to go urban birding in Medellín, Antioquia:

Cerro El Volador Regional Metropolitan Natural Park

~ 35 species

Cerro El Volador is a metropolitan regional natural park, the largest in Medellín, located in front of the Medellin headquarter of Universidad Nacional and 15 minutes by car from the Atanasio Girardot football stadium. It has an area of 100 hectares with 9 different types of soil cover and 10 water sources, the perfect home to 106 bird species and 76 species of butterflies. The bird species that stand out in this protected area are the Bar-crested Antshrike, Lineated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Large-billed Seed Finch, Slate-colored Seedeater, Eared Dove, Blue-necked Tanager, Palm Tanager, Tropical Kingbird, Spectacled Parrotlet, Bananaquit, and Streaked Flycatcher. The park is an important place for environmental education and research.

Arví Park

~160 species

Arví Park is the only park in Colombia with a Sustainable Tourism certification from the Rainforest Alliance. It is located on the outskirts of Medellin and is easily accessible by cable car. Its diverse trails offer visitors the possibility to do day and night hiking, bird watching, picnics, bike tours, archaeological and cultural tours with abounding flora such as orchids. Here you can see the Golden-olive Woodpecker, the Azara’s Spinetail, the Green Jay, the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, and the Andean Solitaire.

La Romera Eco Park

~ 375 species

The municipality of Sabaneta, south of Medellin, has a natural reserve of 235 hectares and is considered a water reserve for the Aburrá Valley. Because of this, it is not allowed to camp, make bonfires or practice extreme sports. Its Andean wet forest ecosystem has native flora that shelters bird species such as the Colombian Chachalaca, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Southern Emerald-Toucanet, Yellow-headed Manakin, the endemic Red-bellied Grackle and Stiles’s Tapaculo, among other 350 bird species.

Medellín Botanical Garden Joaquín Antonio Uribe

~ 170 species

To the north of the capital of Antioquia, next to Explora Park, the Medellin Botanical Garden is considered as a living museum. It has living collections of vertical gardens, ornamental plants, theme exhibitions and collections of endangered species to promote conservation. Birding is one of the main attractions, as it is a great environment for over 100 native and migratory bird species. Bare-faced Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Andean Motmot, Slate-throated Redstart, Black-capped Tanager and Olivaceous Piculet can be spotted here.

El Poblado and Lleras Parks

~ 145 species

Commune No. 14 El Poblado is one of the 16 communes of Medellín, capital of the Department of Antioquia. It is the most expensive and exclusive sector of the city. It is located in the south-eastern area. It is the largest commune in Medellín and also the least populated in relative terms. Lleras Park is one of the most representative places of El Poblado and a place of almost forced passage for the tourists who come to the city. In the parks and gardens of the neighborhood, which also has two streams, attracts many birds as Black-throated Mango, Roadside Hawk, Southern Lapwing, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Grayish Saltator, American Redstart among others.

Urban Birding Spots in Manizales

Manizales is the capital of Caldas, one of the departments of the Coffee Region, which registers nearly 900 bird species. These are some urban birding spots in Manizales:

Los Alcázares Arenillo Eco Park

~140 species

Right to the west of Manizales, Los Alcázares Eco park becomes a main lung within the city. Below 2000 MASL, this humid premontane forest is the setting for responsible ecotourism activities, such as landscape contemplation, hiking and birdwatching. This park has over 30 hectares inhabited by more than 140 bird species from 34 families, including  the Scaled Antpitta, Scrub Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Bar-crested Antshrike, among others.

Paraíso Verde Manizales

~200 species

Just 3 km north of Manizales there is a lodge true to the Coffee Region culture. Paraíso Verde is a classic-styled house in the middle of a stunning landscape of mountains, great sunsets, trees, bright flowers, birds, butterflies and more. There are several trails to explore the place and enjoy not only bird watching but bird photography! The lodge has ideal feeders for photographers to take their best shots. Among the 200 bird species that inhabit Paraíso Verde, you can see the Squirrel Cuckoo, Southern Emerald-Toucanet, Crimson-rumped toucanet, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Scaled Antpitta. The entrance costs $35,000 COP and the guiding service has an extra cost.

Recinto del Pensamiento

230  species

Recinto del Pensamiento is a distinctive natural reserve since it does not only protect natural resources but seeks to raise awareness and educate about common welfare. It is located 10 km southwest of Manizales. Here you can access an ecological trail, a chairlift system, a garden, an orchid forest, a butterfly observatory, and a birdwatching spot. You can also have an authentic coffee experience and even plant a tree! In its 179 ha you can spot around 230  species of birds, among them the Lesser Violetear, White-naped Brushfinch, Metallic-green Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Collared Inca, and Swainson’s Hawk. You can come with at least one person or up to 6 to do birdwatching, having previously made a reserve and paying a fee of $80,000.

Los Yarumos Ecopark

~200 species

Los Yarumos Ecopark is a protected natural area in the eastern zone of Manizales. Local families and tourists visit this park to spend an adventurous weekend with 5 zip lines of 30 to 70 meters high, a 105-meter long Tibetan bridge, rappel down a waterfall, slides, a climbing wall and a 4-hour tour along an ecological trail in the forest for nature lovers. The curious ones can visit the library, the natural science museum and participate in the cultural activities. Its 53 hectares of cloud forest serve as home to diverse wildlife, including agoutis, opossums, foxes and tigrillos, and flowers such as bromeliads, anthuriums and orchids. But the tree that gives the park its name is the Yarumo or trumpet tree, which attracts -along with the other trees, many unique birds, such as the Green Jay and the Emerald toucanet, among 200 others, including the Golden-plumed Parakeet, White-vented Plumeleteer and the Palm Tanager.

Urban Birding Spots in Armenia

The capital of Quindío in the Coffee Region is also a good destination for urban birding in Colombia.

Parque de la Vida

~220 species

Parque de la Vida is a breathing space in the middle of the city of 8 hectares, with cascades, a lake and a lot of green. This park was donated to Armenia by the Coffee farmers National Federation. A 2 km trail crosses a guadual and a gorge. The lake is inhabited by different fish, ducks and geese, and people find in the park crafts exhibitions, children games and spaces for exercising and relaxation. At least 220 bird species can be found in here, including the Blue-necked Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Flame-rumped Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, and Turquoise Dacnis.

Quindío Botanical Garden

~205 species

The Quindío Botanical Garden is outside the city of Armenia, more exactly in Calarcá municipality. It is an NGO that fosters conservation projects, scientific research, and environmental education. As a recognized spot for nature tourism in Colombia, it offers several attractions such as the National Collection of Palms, which bring together most native species of Colombian palms, a renowned butterfly house, an insect zoo, a geology and soil museum, and three spots for bird watching (a house in the forest, a 22-meter tower and the hummingbird ballet. There are 205 bird species recorded in this area, including about 10 migratory species. You can spot the Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Barred Antshrike, Blue-Necked Tanager, the near endemic Western Emerald, and the endemic Grayish Piculet.

Urban Birding Spots in Villavicencio

The department of Meta, in Llanos Orientales, is the third region in Colombia with most bird species, having nearly 1050 reported. In its capital, Villavicencio, you can go urban birding.

Bosque Bavaria

~350 species

Since 2008, the Orange-Breasted Falcon Reserve -also known as Bosque Bavaria, exists to preserve the habitat of the birds endemic to the Orinoco region or Eastern plains. It is located northwest of Villavicencio, just 15 minutes by car. In 30 hectares of reserve you can explore the mountain forest of the Eastern Andes, where there is a variety of bird species. The most notable birds here are the Gray-Chinned Hermit, Blue-Fronted Lancebil, Amazonian Motmot, Yellow-billed Nunbird, White-Chinned Jacamar, Scaled Piculet, White-Chested Puffbird and the Striolated Manakin.

Universidad de Los Llanos

~238 Especies

The Universidad de los Llanos , is the largest public academic institution of higher education in the eastern plains and Amazon region of Colombia. Its headquarters are located in Villavicencio, capital of the department of Meta. More than 200 species of birds have been reported here. It is a unique campus full of native trees and gardens that are the support and biological corridor for many birds in the region. You can find there birds like Rufous-breasted Hermit, White-bearded Hermit, Pale-bellied Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat. Hoatzin, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Russet-crowned Crake, Scarlet Ibis, Sharp-tailed Ibis, Green Ibis, Bare-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill among others.

Bioparque Los Ocarros

~172 Species

The Ocarros Biopark is a zoo of fauna of the eastern plains of Colombia, where you can see jaguars, anacondas, armadillos, snakes, crocodiles, among other species, just 5 minutes from the city of Villavicencio (Meta), on the road that leads to the municipality of Restrepo. The place has 5.5 hectares with large areas, which serve as habitat for about 680 animals of 150 species typical of the ecosystem of the region.

This theme park offers specialized tours and events for one or more days, as well as workshops, conferences and seminars. Among the birds in the wild that can be observed here are Speckled Chachalaca, Hoatzin, Oriole Blackbird, Silver-beaked Tanager, Orange-crowned Oriole, Violaceous Jay, Scaled Piculet, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Slaty-Antshrike, many aquatic birds, among others.

Monumento de Cristo Rey

138 species

After years of state neglect, El Redentor Hill, home to the monument to Christ the King, one of Villavicencio’s landmarks, has recently been recovered to attract religious, sports and even bird-watching visitors. Cristo Rey is located on the hills that rise above the center of Villavicencio, which also makes it a unique place as a tourist viewpoint over the city and the whole plain. This work was started in 1949 by Pedro Eliseo Achury Garavito, who was the parish priest of Villavicencio cathedral at the time. The authorship of the monument is due to José Rama Kers and it was inaugurated in 1954.

The ascent to the hill is done by a road surrounded by little intervened forests of the Andean foothills. You can find bird species such as Barred Antshrike, Short-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Russet-backed Oropendola, Scaled Piculet, Great Potoo, Common Potoo, Amazonian Motmot, Black-crowned Tityra, Glittering-throated Emerald, Lettered Aracari among others.

Jardín Botánico de Villavicencio

127 species

Created in 1983 and since then is a center of flora where it promotes the conservation, preservation, and propagation of plant material, as well as research and promotion of environmental and ecological education programs. It has 46.3 hectares and is mostly occupied by forest, pasture areas and the nursery of plant material, plots of heliconia plants, guadua plants and trees of various species. Species such as Speckled Chachalaca, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Crested Oropendola, Tropical Screech-Owl, Bat Falcon, Gray-chinned Hermit, Buff-throated Saltator among others can be found.

Urban Birding Spots in Santa Marta

This Caribbean city, the capital of the department of Magdalena and home to the highest coastal mountain in the world -Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, also offers spots for urban birding:

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

~152 species

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is an important tourist attraction in Santa Marta. This is the house where Simon Bolivar, Colombia’s liberator, lived his last days. This huge country house, founded in 1608, is located just 5 km from the city and boasts amazing gardens with vegetation from the Caribbean tropical dry forests. It actually has a Botanical Garden that collects plants such as a Samanea saman, Ceibas and Tamarinds, along with flowers that attract several birds. Among the 152 registered species, you will likely find the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Orange-Chinned Parakeet, Yellow Warbler, Whooping Motmot, Russet-Throated Puffbird, and the Trinidad Euphonia.

Universidad del Magdalena

~186 species

Universidad del Magdalena is a departmental public university located near Quinta de San Pedro in Santa Marta. It is the second Caribbean public university to get the High Quality Institutional Accreditation from the National Ministry of Education and has one of the greatest campus in the region, with 30 hectares of dry tropical forest ecosystem and an artificial lake. A research published in 2008 reported 186 bird species distributed in 41 families: 38 resident, 77 transitory and 72 migratory. In the university you are likely to see the Great-tailed Grackle, Carib Grackle; some endangered species from the United States such as Stilt and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and the Willow Flycatcher; other species such as the Cattle Egret, Savanna Hawk, Crested Bobwhite and many more.

Urban Birding Spots in Popayan

Downtown Popayán

~100 species

The department of Cauca is located to the southwest Pacific coast of Colombia and has around 1100 bird species reported in platforms as eBird! Popayan is its capital and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 1738 m a.s.l., this city of nearly 300,000 inhabitants is a good destination for urban birding, having a strategic reservoir formed by micro-watersheds, wetlands and springs. In the historical downtown, you can see eared doves (Zenaida articulata), house sparrows, flycatchers, swallows and hummingbirds.

Vía Las Tres Cruces Hill

~50 species

Also, around Cerro de Las Tres Cruces, it is possible to spot the White-Naped Brushfinch (Atlapetes albinucha), Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus), Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus), Golden-olive Woodpecker (Colaptes rubiginosus), Rusty Flowerpiercer (Diglossa sittoides), among others.


Find out about everything related to bird watching in Colombia in our Colombia Birdwatching Guide!


About the authors

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. 

Ana María Parra 

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.