San Jose Del Guaviare

Bountiful Birding in Colombia

I used to think birding was for nerds, but hear me out before you shoot me a side glance with a glare. My mind and my outlook of birding has been changed! I can remember the exact moment when it happened. I was in South Africa on safari and our ranger promptly stopped our jeep to see a bird on a tree, just off the road and perched on a branch, hesitantly looking over at us. The colors from his feet, beak, his wings, to the tip of his tail, it all stopped me and made me reach for my binoculars in the seat beside me to get a better look. I sat there thinking, mother nature, you’ve done it again. What an incredible sight! As you’ll see from my other blog posts, South Africa was a life changing trip for me and I can thank that two quick weeks for my new appreciation for birds.

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They are incredible creatures in our world. Always surprising me with their beautiful feathers, different sized wingspans, legs and beaks. The calls that they make are the most intriguing! There’s nothing like it when you’re out in the wild, no noises of cars passing by or just normal city commotion to interrupt your surroundings.

In September I had the pleasure of traveling with Juan Ortiz, cofounder of The Colombian Project (also the owner of these spectacular photos). I’ve never met someone so passionate and so genuinely thrilled about birds and natural in general!! He introduced us to some very special places in Colombia and some equally special guides that share his adoration of Mother Nature’s work in the wilderness.

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My first morning on this research trip was an early start, I believe we had to be in the hotel lobby and ready to go by 4:30am? They were all early morning starts, but this was pretty brutal as I had just arrived a few hours ago, because my plane arrived late. Though while I’m on vacation, I don’t mind rising with the sun, as long as there is something exciting happening- and I make sure that there is! Juan had planned for us to meet the rest of our group (other travel agents also coming to learn more about Colombia), as well as our birding guide for the day and then to jump in a large van and head for the mountains above Bogota.

After a couple of hours of going up up up, in the middle of who knows where, we arrived to the hummingbird sanctuary. We arrived shortly after the owner had gone around to each feeder and filled them up with the hummingbirds favorite meal, sugar water! We all stood still and kept our eyes on the feeders, the only movement at first was me shivering #alwayscold. Then before you saw anything, you actually heard them zoom past you, but they were so quick that you didn’t know which way they came and which way they left until they perched themselves on a branch.

Fun fact for you, or for those that don’t know… there are 147 different species of hummingbirds in Colombia. My father has always put out hummingbird feeders, so I was used to seeing our typical species in Oregon and California. I wondered how different they could all possibly be from each other. It only took minutes for us to see several different types. Some with long long tails, some short and stocky, cute little chubby guys! The one type that really amazed me was the sword-billed hummingbird which had a ridiculously long beak. Just how that bird managed to fly around and effortlessly zoom up to the feeder with such grace, was mind boggling!

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Another birding morning we were just outside of the center of town in Guaviare. We parked in one corner of the town and began walking across a small pedestrian bridge. Which had just enough room for you to stand on one side of it, while scooters passed by us with the dad driving in the front and at least 2 kids sitting in the back. We looked out on each side of the bridge, scanning the horizon and in the tall grass. I never thought I’d get competitive, but it was exciting! Who would spot the first bird?! Seconds after we arrived the binoculars were already out and I saw an arm pointing out something in the distance.

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With close to 1900 species of birds, Colombia is ultimately the place to be if you’re a bird lover! With all of the different and incredible regions across the country, it just depends on what type of itinerary you’re looking to enjoy and we can provide you with the trip. I trust that Juan will take care of any of my clients that I send his way and I look forward to organizing more wildlife focused itineraries!