Bird Watching

Serranía de las Quinchas

Colombia has the greatest diversity of birdlife on Earth according to the latest global study by Birdlife International.  With 1878 species identified at the last official count, Colombia is home to around a fifth of all bird species found on the planet, of which 91 species are found nowhere else on Earth. 

Known as the ‘Mountains of the Hummingbirds’ in the Muisca indigenous language, Serrania de las Quinchas is particularly rich in birdlife. Forming part of the western flank of Colombia’s Eastern Andes in the Magdalena River Valley in Central Colombia, what makes Las Quinchas especially rich in birdlife is the variety of unique and different ecosystems found here.  These range from humid lowland forest to lower tropical montane cloud forest varying in elevation from 200 m (660 ft) to 1,700 m (5,600 ft).

The area of Serrania de Las Quinchas is listed as an Important Bird Area and deemed globally important for the conservation of bird populations due to the high number of globally threatened and restricted range species found here. 

According to the last official count by Birdlife International the area is home to 368 species of birds*.  Six of the species are endemic, most notable of which is the Blue-billed Curassow (Crax Alberti), the Beautiful Woodpecker, (Melanerper Pulcher) and the White-Mantled Barbet (Capito Hypoleucus) which have a good population here.   Two migratory birds of prey which can often be seen in large numbers  include Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) and Broad-winged Hawk ((Buteo platypterus). 

There are also 29 species of hummingbirds including the Chestnut-bellied hummingbird (Amazilia Castaneiventris ) which is endemic and classed as critically endangered due to its restricted range and loss of habitat.  

The Blue-billed Currasow found here is considered one of the world’s most endangered species.   It is perhaps Colombia’s most enigmatic species, being virtually unknown until an expedition by ProAves, a Colombian conservation group, located a viable population in the Serrania de las Quinchas in 2003.  Known locally as Paujil, the curassow was an important symbol in ancient pre-Colombian indigenous culture, with many gold figures found depicting this spectacular bird.   The males have a striking blue beak and have only one partner throughout their entire reproductive life and are highly territorial with a highly developed sensitivity to sound, which means they are a bird that alerts other animals in the forest when there is the presence of predators.

Other notable birds you will find here include the following: Turquoise Dacnis (Dacnis harlauibi) endemic to Colombia and has a good population in Las Quinchas.  You also have chance to see Endemic Saffron-headed Parrot ( Pyrilia pyrilia ), Antioquia Bristle-tyrant, Sooty Ant-tanager, Colombian Chachalaca, Crested Owl, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, White-throated Crake, Russet-crowned Crakes.  Some of the ‘quinchas’ you will see include Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Shining-green Hummingbird, and Pale-bellied and Stripe-throated Hermits.

The most up to date list of the birds for the area is provided by the eBird List for the El Paujil Proaves Reserve:

*The Bird list for Birdlife International was compiled by Stiles y Bohórquez 2000, Laverde et al. 2004, A. Quevedo, in litt.

For more information on the birdlife in the area see the Birdlife International Factsheet on Serrania de las Quinchas