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.


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. 



Where to go for Birdwatching in Bogotá? Complete Bogotá Bird Guide

In case you did not know, or if you have only few days in the city of Bogotá, and want to go out for a nature experience, birdwatching in Bogotá can be a great experience. 

Bogotá has a quite ample habitat variation for birds: Native vegetation arranged in forests, stubble, thickets, paramo vegetation and riparian vegetation.

There are also habitats associated to forests and thickets composed by exotic species, semi-arid areas, paddocks and crops, wetlands and lakes and ponds. 

Why does Bogotá has so much habitats for birds?

The answer is because of its bio – geographical position. Bogotá is located in the “Savannah of Bogotá”, which is in the Eastern Andean mountain range of Colombia, in the southern part of the Cundiboyacense plateau.

The Cundiboyacense plateau is the largest plateau in the Colombian Andes, with heights ranging from 2,600 to more than 3,500 meters above sea level. Thus, Bogota was built on the plain that borders the eastern hills of the city.

The Savannah of Bogotá

Historical records tell us that mostly more than 50% of the current territory of the city was covered with wetlands and lagoons. For being a plain of great extension it received the name of Savannah of Bogotá.

But don’t get confused, the “Bogotá Savannah” is not really a savannah as an ecosystem, since the savannahs have as their main characteristic very high temperatures and low rainfall, as in the Serengeti. Here, there are frequent rains and the temperature raises until 23ºC at best.

Suitable Habitat for Birds 

All the Bogotá’s Savannah is a real gem for bird watching lovers. The savannah of Bogotá is an area of ​​biogeographic importance due to the presence of a high level of bird endemism.

The Savannah of Bogotá had a system of natural lagoons and wetlands that functioned as humidity regulators. Currently, some of the remnants of this system still meet this function.

Around the savannah, you can find natural landscapes such as dry forests, cloud forests, desert areas and paramos. Some of these areas have been transformed into crop areas, pastures and urban zones, increasing pollution levels and the presence of invasive species.

Association of Ornithology of Bogotá (ABO)

The birds of Bogotá have been monitored since 1989 by the Association of Ornithology of Bogotá (ABO) with the participation of experts and amateurs interested in the proper management of biodiversity and bird conservation.

This monitoring shows the status of resident and migratory bird populations that live in the city and its near surroundings.

Nature of the Urban Area of Bogotá

In the urban area of Bogotá, there are more than 76,000 hectares included in the District System of Protected Areas which includes wetlands, hills, ecological mountain parks and 4,500 urban parks.

Among the 15 recognized wetlands, 11 have RAMSAR category. Also, in the district of Sumapaz, there is the Páramo of Sumapaz, the largest in the world.

Recent mayors have focused on the importance of nature and biodiversity conservation, thus, nature tourism in Bogotá and its surroundings has been developed as an effective tool for such means, providing activities such as bird watching and hiking.

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

Birds of Bogotá

There are around 235 bird species registered for Bogotá and surroundings, of which 6 are under some degree of threat, 46 are boreal migrants and 7 are endemic (3 species, 4 subspecies).

Bogota Bird Guide

Recently, the mayor’s office of Bogotá and the Tourism Institute of Bogotá published a practical birding guide called “Guía de aves de Bogotá” available in both English and Spanish.

The guide facilitates bird watching in Bogotá, and it  is aimed at people who want to get closer to the world of birds for the first time, for expert observers or photographers who are looking for new places for birding in Bogotá and for national and foreign tourists who want to meet and enjoy activities of bird watching in Bogotá.

The Guía de aves de Bogotá offers information about must-see birds in Bogotá, resident aquatic birds and resident terrestrial birds. It also shows information about status, endemism, distribution, diet and habitat of around 176 birds that can effectively be found in Bogotá.

There is also information about where to birdwatch in Bogotá, the level of difficulty, suggested itineraries, recommendations, good birding practice advice, recommendations for tour operators, contact information and bird checklists.

Despite the useful information you can find in this guide, there are some recommended places that still need to be improved for high quality tourism and bird watching activity, due to the poor infrastructure, high contamination and the high assault risk.

We hope that in the future those issues get resolved. Here there are our suggestions and opinions about the different places you can visit for birding in Bogotá. We also include places that are commonly included in birding itineraries around Bogotá.

Key Bird Species to Watch in Bogotá

Bogota rail – Rallus semiplumbeus

Endangered endemic species. This species is endemic to areas of wetlands and lagoons. It is threatened by the deterioration and decline of its habitat, in addition to being easy prey for feral dogs and cats or pets found in wetlands. It is often heard but difficult to see.

Apolinar’s Wren – Cistothorus apolinari (subspecies C. a. Apolinari).

Endangered endemic species. Found in reedbeds around lakes and ponds. After decades of habitat decline, its recent dramatic decline may be associated with breeding parasitism, in which the Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) lays its eggs in the wren’s nest, thus decreasing its survival rate. In addition, their territorial habits and sedentary behavior increase their vulnerability.

Apolinar’s Wren – Cistothorus apolinari – ENDEMIC

Spot-flanked Gallinule – Gallinula melanops (subspecies G. m. bogotensis) / Porphyriops melanops (subspecies P. m. bogotensis)

Endangered endemic species. This subspecies is endemic to the Colombian Andes and is threatened locally as the destruction of wetland ecosystems by urbanization directly affects their populations. The vast majority survive in artificial lagoons near the Bogotá river.


Silvery-throated Spinetail – Synallaxis subpudica

Endemic. This species is considered quite common in its natural habitats: the edges of the mountain forests, the canopy gaps with shrub growth, thickets and hedges, between 2000 and 3200 m of altitude. Quite common in subtropical and temperate undergrowth and thickets, wetlands and adjacent willow copses in Bogotá.

Pale-bellied Tapaculo – Scytalopus griseicollis (subspecies S. g. griseicollis)

Near-Endemic. Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally fairly common in vicinity of Bogotá; tolerates considerable habitat disturbance and fragmentation; the W slope of the E Andes. This subspecies is characterized by a pale grey mantle. Fairly common in Chingaza National Park and also occurs in Sumapaz National Park.

Subtropical Doradito – Pseudocolopteryx acutipennis

Critically Endangered. This bird is very locally in Andes from Colombia, is a yellowish flycatcher of marshy habitats. Rather difficult to see in dense reedbeds of Andean lakes.

Green-bearded Helmetcrest – Oxypogon guerinii 

Endemic. This hummingbird lives at humid open paramo with Espeletia vegetation, sometimes at edge of Polylepis forests; It is considered the bird symbol of the stopped by its bright colors, the sharp white crest and the beard of the males. Occurs at 3000 m to 5200 m.

Green-bearded Helmetcrest – Oxypogon guerinii, female – ENDEMIC

Wetlands in Bogotá

La Florida Regional Park – Lake Sector (La Florida Wetland).

This park has large natural spaces with high environmental value. It is owned by the Capital District and is located in western Bogotá, partially outside its urban perimeter, in the town of La Florida, municipality of Funza and western limit of the town of Engativá, capital district.

La Florida is one of the most prominent parks in the city, which has 267 hectares mostly made up of native forests and foreign species, and has a natural lake, a natural extension of the Jaboque wetland, which houses various endemic and migratory species.

The park is equipped with sports facilities, pedagogical nursery and tree planting which includes papule pines, cypresses, acacias, Quindío wax palms and oaks. 

In the lake, which is part of the wetland ecosystem of Bogotá, tours are made to see endemic birds and migratory birds that inhabit this water reserve. The lake sector was enabled as an area for bird watching, since November 10th 2011, it is currently a place visited by nationals and foreigners. 

The Lake sector has a water mirror partially surrounded by an interpretive path and native aquatic flora, a hide-type bird observatory with a maximum capacity for 10 people and a surveillance service.

Jaboque Wetland

The Jaboque wetland has an advanced restoration and conservation process and several endemic species of the Savannah of Bogotá and the Eastern Cordillera can be observed such as the endemic Bogotá Rail, Silvery-throated Spinetail and Apolinar´s Wren.

Also birds like Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Andean Teal, Andean Duck, Noble Snipe, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Subtropical Doradito, Black Flowerpiercer, Band-tailed Seadeater, Andean Siskin … ~ 331 species. Checklist

Santa María del Lago Wetland District Ecological Park. Recommended

This is one of the wetlands with the best water quality and most visited in the city, it has a bird observatory, auditorium, bathrooms and good signalization. 

Among the flora of the ecosystem include willows and alders, lemnas, common water hyacinths, rushes and floating pennyworts. In addition to a mixture of acacias, eucalyptus, arrayanes, cherry trees and pink and orange abutilon.

Observation Tower at Santa María del Lago, Bogotá, Colombia Quinta de Simón Bolívar, Bogotá, Colombia ©Fundación Humedales de Bogotá

The fauna of this wetland, includes mammals such as Guinea Pig (Cavia anolaimae), arboreal rice rat (Oeomys speciosus), and fulvous pygmy rice rat (Oligoryzomys fulvescens), the frog Hyla labialis (Hylidae) and the fish Eremophilus mutissii (Trichomycteridae) and Rundulus bogulus (Characidae) considered missing from the wetland.

Key Species of Santa María del Lago

Among bird species it is possible to find Andean Duck (Oxyura ferruginea),  Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria), Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors), Black Flowerpiercer (Diglossa humeralis), Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)  Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus), Striated Heron (Butorides striata), among other 125 taxa. Checklist


There are some other wetlands in Bogotá which are not recommended to visit because of their localization and safety.

Those are Córdoba Wetland District Ecological Park, La Conejera Wetland District Ecological Park, Juan Amarillo or Tibabuyes Wetland District Ecological Park and Jaboque Wetland District Ecological Park.

Urban Parks of Bogotá

The following are the parks you can find in Bogotá:

  • Botanical Garden of Bogotá José Celestino Mutis,
  • Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park,
  • Entrenubes Mountain District Ecological Park,
  • El Gran Chico – El Virrey Corridor Park,
  • Enrique Olaya Herrera National Park,
  • Independence Park, and
  • Quinta de Bolívar House Museum.

We recommend visiting the Botanical Garden of Bogotá José Celestino Mutis, Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park and Quinta de Bolívar House Museum for bird watching.

The other parks are more suitable for recreational or sporting activities.

Botanical Garden of Bogotá José Celestino Mutis

The Botanical Garden of Bogotá is the first and most important research and conservation center of Colombian vegetation, with an emphasis on Andean flora.

It is the main refuge of biodiversity in Bogotá, the living collection of the Botanical Garden houses about 54,884 individuals, 304 families, 469 genera, 903 species and individuals of representative plants of the Andean ecosystems and the moorland.

This Collection is a source of research, conservation of diversity and education in the region and the country.

Great Thrush – Turdus fuscater, Botanical Garden of Bogotá

The ecosystems currently represented are high Andean forest and moorland, with which it is sought to represent native species of the altitudinal range between 2,800 and 3,250 meters above sea level.

It is important to highlight that they work in the construction of the largest Tropicario in Colombia and, possibly, the most imposing in Latin America, where they also have a projection to house 900 individuals of 200 species, distributed in different environments such as useful Plants; CEPAC (Specialized Collections for Conservation); Tropical Dry Forest (bsT); Humid Forest (Amazonia and biogeographic Chocó) and Superparamo. Checklist

Simon Bolívar Metropolitan Park

The Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park is the largest and most important urban park in the city of Bogotá, located in the geographic center of Bogotá.

Although the metropolitan park is made up of several parks, people from Bogotá tend to refer to each of these parks separately and do not associate them with a single “megapark.”

Currently, it is considered the “lung of the city”, for its strategic location in the heart of the city, for its wide vegetation and large size of its green areas.

Key Species at Simón Bolívar Park

There are several species of native plants that house urban bird species such as rufous-collared sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) or the Great thrush (Turdus fuscater). Due to the presence of large lakes, it is also possible to observe water birds such as herons.

Quinta de Bolívar House Museum

The history of Quinta de Bolívar dates back to 1670. It was a villa that was later given to Simon Bolivar as a sign of gratitude for the services provided to the cause of independence.

Bolivar was its owner for ten years although he lived there only for 423 days. Since 1820, when Bolivar received the villa as a gift, the house began to be prepared to serve as a room for the then President of the Republic.

Quinta de Simón Bolívar, Bogotá, Colombia ©CC

Today it works as a museum, although the historic house and its surroundings (restored between 1992 and 2000) were never designed to serve as a museum.

It is since then that this Cultural Property of National Character (former National Monument) is configured as one of the 5 museums of the Ministry of Culture in Bogotá.

Key Species at Quinta de Bolívar

Due to its proximity to Monserrate and the eastern hills, and thanks to the gardens planted with trees and shrubs native to the high Andean forests, it is possible to find an interesting birdlife visiting the place including hummingbirds, tanagers and warblers. Checklist

Eastern Hills of Bogotá

There are several trails for hiking around Bogotá, in the eastern Hills as follows:

  • Monserrate trail, San Francisco,
  • The Vicacha River Trail,
  • The Old Creek Trail,
  • The Aguadora Hill Trail,
  • The Delights Creek Trail.

However, the most suitable for bird watching is the Monserrate trail.

Monserrate, Bogotá, Colombia

When looking up from any point in the city, it is impossible not to run into that hill that, from its 3,152 meters above sea level, watches Bogotá.

The hill of Monserrate is the quintessential symbol of Bogotá, the capital of Colombians. Located at 3152 meters above sea level, it houses the sanctuary of  Señor Caído de Monserrate, a place of pilgrimage of nationals and foreigners, surrounded by lush vegetation and from where you can see the best landscape of the Bogota savannah.

The stone path by which you can reach the top, opens at 6 in the morning to receive pilgrims and athletes from all over. Along the route different species of birds can be found in an altitude gradient of more than 600 meters.

Key Species of the Eastern Hills of Bogotá

Here it is possible to find high-mountain species such as Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant (Ochthoeca fumicolor), Mountain Wren (Troglodytes solstitialis), Blue-backed Conebill (Conirostrum sitticolor), Glossy Flowerpiercer (Diglossa lafresnayii), Black Flowerpiercer (Diglossa humeralis), White-sided Flowerpiercer (Diglossa albilatera), Rusty Flowerpiercer (Diglossa sittoides), Bluish Flowerpiercer (Diglossa caerulescens), Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea), Black-capped Hemispingus (Kleinothraupis atropileus), Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus igniventris), Andean Guan (Penelope montagnii) and more than 15 species of hummingbirds. Checklist

Páramo in Bogotá

Buffer zone on the road to the Sumapaz National Natural Park.

The Sumapaz National Natural Park is located at the Sumapaz district of Bogotá. It covers approximately 43% of the largest complex of paramos in the world.

It is considered one of the richest areas in high altitude Colombian genera and species, as it has a large number of organisms, many of them endemic. This fact makes the Park an important reservoir of biological, ecological and genetic diversity.

Paramo de Sumapaz

The park also contributes to the water supply system of Bogotá and to multiple aqueducts of Cundinamarca and Meta departments. It is a provider of water regulation services with rivers such as Tunjuelo, Sumapaz and Ariari and its numerous lagoons that allow, among other things, the development of important crops in the Orinoquia, also supporting biodiversity habitat.

Main ecosystems 

Two of the main tropical mountain ecosystems are represented in the Sumapaz National Natural Park: the páramo and the Andean forests.

In the páramo, there are three basic types of environments: sub-páramo, proper páramo and superpáramo (Cuatrecasas 1958 taken from Pedraza-Peñalosa et al., 2004). The Andean forest is divided into high Andean, Andean and sub-Andean forest vegetation following elevation.

Key Species of Sumapaz

Among the key species, it is possible to find endemic and near endemic species such as:

  • Bogota Rail (Rallus semiplumbeus),
  • Green-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon guerinii),
  • Apolinar´s Wren (Cistothorus apolinari),
  • Bronze-tailed Thornbill (Chalcostigma heteropogon),
  • Pale-bellied Tapaculo (Scytalopus griseicollis), 
  • Rufous-browed Conebill (Conirostrum rufum),
  • Silvery-throated Spinetail (Synallaxis subpudica),
  • Noble Snipe (Gallinago nobilis), and both
  • Scarlet-bellied (Anisognathus igniventris) and Hooded (Buthraupis montana) Mountain-Tanagers.

However, the target here is the Green-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon guerinii). 

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.