Medellin is a thriving, modern city. We will perch on its edges before heading southwest to Jardin, our base in the Western Andes to search for the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot. While the parrot, the size of a small macaw, is the quest, the journey is fun: we'll be birding for mixed flocks in the montane forests while listening and looking for two quetzals, scanning for Black-billed Mountain-Toucan or Chestnut-crested Cotinga, and visiting a lek of the spectacular Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. Crossing through the dry forests (think Antioquia Wren) of the Cauca Valley will bring us to one of the wettest regions on earth, the montane Choco. Three nights at ProAves' famed Las Tangaras reserve will give us time to savor the luxuriant cloud forests that harbor many specialties of the Choco biogeographic region. Colombian endemics include Munchique Wood-Wren, Crested Ant-Tanager, and Black-and-gold Tanager, along with many Choco specialties shared with northwestern Ecuador: Empress Brilliant, Toucan Barbet, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Choco Vireo, Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Glistening-green and Purplish-mantled tanagers, Indigo Flowerpiercer, and Yellow-collared Chlorophonia.
From Las Tangaras, we'll move back north, skirting Medellin before climbing up into the eastern foothills of the Western Cordillera to the town of San Pedro de los Milagros. This small town is the type locality for the virtually unknown Antioquia Brushfinch. This species was only described formally in 2007, then thought to be extinct (with failed expeditions in 2007 and 2008) until it was rediscovered in 2018 near San Pedro de Los Milagros. We will have a local guide here and make an effort to find this very rare bird. Finally, we'll move to the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve, a 1000-hectare property that protects this Critically Endangered Colombian endemic. In addition to the piha, this reserve hosts a number of other Colombian endemics and specialties including Chestnut Wood-Quail, Red-bellied Grackle, Stiles's Tapaculo, Black-and-gold Tanager, Multicolored Tanager, Parker's Antbird, Bicolored Antvireo, and Scaled Fruiteater.
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