SANTA MARTA MOUNTAINS AND CARIBBEAN COAST

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain in the world, getting 18,700 feet closer to the stars. It is one of the most important endemism centers in the world, with 22 species of birds restricted to it. Some of these endemics include Santa Marta Screech-owl, Antpitta, Mountain-tanager, Tapaculo, Foliage-gleaner, Brush-finch, Parakeet, Sabrewing, Bush-tyrant, Seedeater, Warbler, and a plethora more!

On the Caribbean Coast, Isla Salamanca, Tayrona and Flamencos National Parks allows for birding through mangroves and coastal wetlands, along the ocean and in dry scrub forest that can yield species such as the near endemic Buffy Hummingbird, the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Russet-throated Puffbird, the near endemic Chestnut Piculet, Bicolored Conebill and Panama Flycatcher.

Birding along the Caribbean coast and in the La Guajira Peninsula allows for a good variety of habitats that include tropical dry forest, mangroves, coastal wetlands and desert scrub. Many of the target species are shared only with neighboring Venezuela, the near-endemics on the list include White-whiskered Spinetail, Buffy Hummingbird, the scarce Chestnut Piculet, the rather uncommon Black-billed Flycatcher and the abundant Slender-billed Inezia. Super targets in Tayrona National Park include the endemic Blue-billed Curassow and Lance-tailed Manakin.

Santa Marta Mountains

The Santa Marta Mountains are the highest coastal mountains in the world, with spectacular birding that covers an altitudinal gradient from to 630 m (2,050 ft) in the town of Minca to 2,600 m (8,530 ft) at Cerro Kennedy. The birding localities are amongst the best birding destinations on Earth, due to the fact that the area is one of the most important endemism centers in the world with more 22 of Colombia’s 76 endemic species restricted to the mountains.

The tiny, picturesque town of Minca is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra and surrounded by well-kept, shade-grown coffee plantations that provide good habitat for birds. Hummingbird feeders in town attract Rufous-breasted Hermit, the endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet, Long-billed Starthroat, and the endemic Santa Marta Woodstar.

The road up the mountain to the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo is a birders dream come true. Target species along the road include Black-fronted Wood-quail, Yellow-fronted Whitestart, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Black-chested Jay, White-bellied Antbird, the near endemic White-tipped Quetzal. Endemics that owe their name to the range are Santa Marta Antpitta, Foliage-gleaner, Bush-tyrant, Mountain-Tanager, Warbler, Brush-finch, Warbler, Screech-owl, and Parakeet.

Los Flamencos National Park

Los Flamencos National Park is a sanctuary for a large population of American Flamingo, which are the main attraction, although their abundance is seasonal. Aquatic habitats within the park are excellent for viewing wading birds, including many migrants and rare vagrants. Wetlands may yield Reddish Egret, and the interesting Roseate Spoonbill. Other species to enjoy include Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, the endemic Bronze-brown Cowbird, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Tocuyo Sparrow, Glaucous Tanager, and Trinidad Euphonia, and the charismatic Russet-throated Puffbird.

Isla Salamanca National Park

Isla Salamanca National Park is another great destination that allows chances for the endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Golden-green Woodpecker, and Yellow-chinned Spinetail. Aquatic targets include Boat-billed Heron, White-cheeked Pintails and Northern Screamer. Another great bird that is possible is the tiny and beautiful American Pygmy Kingfisher.