A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Colombia's Cloudforests: The Western & Central Andes 2021

November 5-14, 2021 with Jesse Fagan and Daniel Uribe guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The Choco Region, seen here from the foothills of the Tatama National Park above Montezuma Rainforest Lodge, is an endemic hotspot. It is also one of the rainiest places in the world! Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

Colombia always delivers, and this year was no different. It is hard to find many countries where you can travel for a week and see over 300 species of birds. That is, averaging 40-50 new species a day! This tour covers the southern Cauca Valley with visits to both the Central and Western Cordillera. It is only 9 days long, yet we recorded 364 bird taxa including 43 species of hummingbird, 9 species of antpitta, 7 species of tapaculo (if they interest you), and 13 Colombian endemics. However, this tour visits one of the most unexplored, species rich areas in the world, the Choco region. This is the lowland Pacific coast and foothills found from southwest Colombia to northwest Ecuador. So, "near-endemic" is used a lot on this tour (check out their range maps). To name a few of these Chocho "specialties" we saw on our tour: Empress Brilliant, Narino Tapaculo, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Dusky Chlorospingus, and Purplish-mantled Tanager. In addition to the Choco, we explored the hot lowlands within the Cauca Valley and cool (cold?) highlands below Volcan Ruiz in the Sierra de los Nevados range. The drastic changes in habitats, altitude, and microclimates, all within a relatively short distance is what makes Colombia the birdiest country in the world.

Thanks to everyone on this tour. A special thanks goes to Daniel Uribe for his excellent and very professional job guiding, it is always a pleasure to work with you. Also, to Giovanni for his safe driving and help during our tour. I knew many of you from previous trips and it was a real pleasure to share our experiences together once again in the field. I hope to see you all again very soon. Best birding to you all in 2022.

—Jesse aka Mot (from Lima, Peru)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)

LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) [*]

Anhimidae (Screamers)

HORNED SCREAMER (Anhima cornuta)

We scoped at least four individuals in the big marsh near Laguna de Sonso.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

TORRENT DUCK (Merganetta armata)

We had nice looks at an adult male with an older chick while standing on the small bridge at Otun-Quimbaya.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

Large numbers at Comeguada Reservoir.

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We start the tour off visiting KM 18 above Cali in the eastern foothills of the Western Cordillera. Here the Red-headed Barbets visit fruit feeders to the joy of the crowd. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.


Perhaps one of the best finds during our tour? A male was seen at the Comeguada Reservoir.

ANDEAN TEAL (Anas andium)

This species and the next were seen at the small lake during our drive up to Sierra de Los Nevados. Andean Teal was formerly lumped with Yellow-billed Teal, which was known as Speckled Teal. However, Andean Teal lacks a yellow bill and is darker overall. Andean Duck is the resident "Ruddy Duck" of South America.

ANDEAN DUCK (ANDINA) (Oxyura ferruginea andina)

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

COLOMBIAN CHACHALACA (Ortalis columbiana) [E]

This endemic was seen at our lunch spot near KM 18 on our first day of birding. Our only one of the tour!

CAUCA GUAN (Penelope perspicax) [E]

Good numbers in the ash forest at Otun-Quimbaya. This endemic was thought to be very nearly extinct prior to the 1980s, but populations were rediscovered in the Otun-Quimbaya region where it seems to be doing very well.

SICKLE-WINGED GUAN (Chamaepetes goudotii)

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

CHESTNUT WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus hyperythrus) [E]

Amazing looks at this endemic at Finca La Florida. Often heard, but very rarely seen, unless there is a feeding station!

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

GRAY-HEADED DOVE (Leptotila plumbeiceps)

Awesome looks at this forest skulker during our morning at Hotel Tinamu.


One showed well at the feeders at Finca La Florida.

EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GREATER ANI (Crotophaga major)

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Another visitor to the feeders at Finca La Florida is this Colombian endemic, Chestnut Wood-Quail, an otherwise impossible species to see. Nice capture by participant Wayne Whitmore.

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

DWARF CUCKOO (Coccycua pumila)

It was a real treat to find this species at Laguna de Sonso. Often missed and never predictable in where it might show.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

We decided based on season and likelihood that the roosting birds at Laguna de Sonso were this species.


Impressive flyovers of several males (and a perched female) at Rio Blanco Reserve.

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus)

Good numbers of day roosting individuals during our long walk at Laguna de Sonso.

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura cinereiventris)

LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis)

Several flying above the dry forest at Reserva Vinculo.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora)

WHITE-WHISKERED HERMIT (Phaethornis yaruqui)

Seen a couple of times at the Montezuma feeders, but never regular.

GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy)

Three species of the larger Phaethornis were visiting the Montezuma feeders, and the smaller Stripe-throated was nearby feeding on the verbina.

TAWNY-BELLIED HERMIT (Phaethornis syrmatophorus)

STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis)

GREEN-FRONTED LANCEBILL (Doryfera ludovicae)

BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae)

The ones singling (loudly) at Finca La Florida at KM 18.

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A Tropical Screech-Owl peaks out of its day roost. This photo was taken by guide Jesse Fagan at Laguna de Sonso in the hot Cauca lowlands.

LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus)

SPARKLING VIOLETEAR (Colibri coruscans)

BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis)

TOURMALINE SUNANGEL (Heliangelus exortis)

A sharp looking hummingbird seen at the higher elevations of Tatama NP and Sierra de Los Nevados.

GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii)

This tiny hummingbird was a regular visitor to the Montezuma feeders. Both males and females were seen.

SPECKLED HUMMINGBIRD (Adelomyia melanogenys)

LONG-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus kingii)

Both sylph species were seen on the tour. The Long-tailed was present around KM 18 and in the Manezales area. Violet-tailed replaced this species on the Choco side of the Western Cordillera, like at Montezuma Rainforest Lodge and Tatama NP.

VIOLET-TAILED SYLPH (Aglaiocercus coelestis)

PURPLE-BACKED THORNBILL (Ramphomicron microrhynchum)

RAINBOW-BEARDED THORNBILL (Chalcostigma herrani)

Another beauty, this species was seen very well visiting the spa feeders below Volcan Ruiz.

BUFFY HELMETCREST (Oxypogon stuebelii) [E]

One of the coolest birds on the planet. We had wonderful perched views of one below the smoking Volcan Ruiz. Endemic to Colombia!

VIRIDIAN METALTAIL (Metallura williami)

GREENISH PUFFLEG (Haplophaedia aureliae)

GOLDEN-BREASTED PUFFLEG (Eriocnemis mosquera)

Fairly range-restricted in Colombia and Ecuador, we had very nice looks at the spa feeders in the Sierra de Los Nevados.

SHINING SUNBEAM (Aglaeactis cupripennis)

The spa feeders were overrun with this species! I have never seen so many in one place.

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Apical Flycatcher is a Colombian endemic found in the dry forest of the Cauca and Magdalena valleys. We had a great encounter with one at Laguna de Sonso. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

BRONZY INCA (Coeligena coeligena)

BROWN INCA (Coeligena wilsoni)

A near endemic and restricted to the Choco foothills. Seen several times on the road above Montezuma Rainforest Lodge.

COLLARED INCA (Coeligena torquata)


A striking, large hummingbird that was visiting the spa feeders below Volcan Ruiz. The small buffy patches on its wing really stand out!

GREAT SAPPHIREWING (Pterophanes cyanopterus)

Such a large hummingbird that its flight is more bat-like! Seen visiting the spa feeders.

BUFF-TAILED CORONET (Boissonneaua flavescens)

VELVET-PURPLE CORONET (Boissonneaua jardini)

A near Colombian endemic, but also found just over the border in Ecuador. Seen well at Montezuma Rainforest Lodge and in Tatama NP.

BOOTED RACKET-TAIL (Ocreatus underwoodii)

RUFOUS-GAPED HILLSTAR (Urochroa bougueri)

This species has nearly the same distribution as Velvet-purple Coronet, which makes it a near endemic to Colombia.

PURPLE-BIBBED WHITETIP (Urosticte benjamini)

FAWN-BREASTED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa rubinoides)

Several visiting the feeders at Montezuma Rainforest Lodge.


EMPRESS BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa imperatrix)

Another near endemic to Colombia found only in the Western Cordillera. They were fairly common at the Montezuma feeders up and down the road.

LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris)

WHITE-BELLIED WOODSTAR (Chaetocercus mulsant)

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Can you find me? A Common Potoo does its best to look inconspicuous. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

PURPLE-THROATED WOODSTAR (Philodice mitchellii)

Fairly range restricted in Colombia and Ecuador. In Colombia, it is only found in the Western Cordillera where pretty common. Seen at a few different sites and almost always at a feeder.

WESTERN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus melanorhynchus)


CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica)

ANDEAN EMERALD (Amazilia franciae)

STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerottei)


BLUE-HEADED SAPPHIRE (Hylocharis grayi)

We saw this species at Finca Alenjandria where a male was visiting the feeders. Not expected on this tour and this was the only place to see it.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

BLACKISH RAIL (Pardirallus nigricans)

Several showed well, including crossing the road, during our afternoon birding at Comeguada Reservoir.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Fairly common, at least by voice, at Laguna de Sonso.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Large numbers (hundreds) at Comeguada Reservoir.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)

From the hot lowlands, we moved up into Tatama National Park and the Choco region. Video by guide Jesse Fagan.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)

WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)

Just a couple at Comeguada Reservoir. On their way south to wintering grounds in Argentina.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

One of the birding highlights was identifying this individual by sight and sound. The bird reacted strongly to the LBDO recording by flying at us and calling.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

One Greater was mixed in with a group of Lessers which made for nice comparisons.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)

There was a good smattering of long-legged waders, including this species, at Comeguada Reservoir.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus)

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Birding the mid-elevations of Tatama National Forest above Montezuma. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

BUFF-NECKED IBIS (Theristicus caudatus)

Pairs were seen at various places in the Cauca Valley around Buga, including at our hotel! Their funny calls are the first thing that catch your attention.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

Good numbers were seen around Laguna de Sonso, where apple snails (or some variety) must be plentiful in the marshes.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

Several had made it to South America where they will spend the winter.

Strigidae (Owls)

TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba)

One in a day roosting tree cavity was a cool find at Laguna de Sonso. Thanks to our local guide for that hot tip.

CLOUD-FOREST PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium nubicola)

Amazing views of a pair that huddled together while an entire mob of birds pestered them from the air. Seen along the road above Montezuma Rainforest Lodge.

ANDEAN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium jardinii)

We scoped one individual at Rio Blanco Reserve.

RUFOUS-BANDED OWL (Ciccaba albitarsis)

Not seen by everyone, but a few folks had headlight views as we headed up the mountain at Tatama NP in the early morning.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

GOLDEN-HEADED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus auriceps)

Seen nicely at Finca Alejandria on our first morning out.

CRESTED QUETZAL (Pharomachrus antisianus) [*]

COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris)

MASKED TROGON (Trogon personatus assimilis)

The subspecies found in the Western Andes where we saw this bird at Montezuma.

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At the very top, near the military outpost, we were fortunate to have this Flammulated Treehunter show so well. That doesn't happen very often. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.
Momotidae (Motmots)

ANDEAN MOTMOT (Momotus aequatorialis)

Pretty common on the grounds at Hotel Tinamu.

BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT (Electron platyrhynchum)

It's always a good day when you see a Motmot! ;-) This species was seen in the forest above Montezuma Rainforest Lodge.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

MOUSTACHED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila mystacalis)

This species and the next, in the family Bucconidae, were seen at the same spot above the lodge at Montezuma. We were able to scope both species. What a treat!

LANCEOLATED MONKLET (Micromonacha lanceolata)

Capitonidae (New World Barbets)

RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii)

Semnornithidae (Toucan-Barbets)

TOUCAN BARBET (Semnornis ramphastinus)

Some folks did the Toucan Barbet dance. What a crazy bit of chatter and other sounds these guys make!

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

SOUTHERN EMERALD-TOUCANET (Aulacorhynchus albivitta)

CRIMSON-RUMPED TOUCANET (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus) [*]

YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (Ramphastos ambiguus) [*]

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

GRAYISH PICULET (Picumnus granadensis) [E]

This endemic was seen a couple of times on the tour, but our first was at Laguna de Sonso.

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)

RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus)

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Here guide Jesse Fagan tries to pull out one of the skulkers, maybe a Chami Antpitta? Photo by participant Alice Whitmore.

SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Dryobates fumigatus) [*]


POWERFUL WOODPECKER (Campephilus pollens) [*]

CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)

This large woodpecker was spotted along the road at Otun-Quimbaya.

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus)


SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula)

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway)

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima chimachima)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis)

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis)

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus)

The common parrot seen on this tour, especially in the lowlands.

YELLOW-CROWNED PARROT (Amazona ochrocephala)

SCALY-NAPED PARROT (Amazona mercenarius)

A couple of large flocks were seen in the highlands at Montezuma.

SPECTACLED PARROTLET (Forpus conspicillatus)

These small psittacids were very common at Laguna de Sonso. We encountered them again at Hotel Tinamu.


Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

RUFOUS-RUMPED ANTWREN (Euchrepomis callinota)

We encountered this uncommon arboreal antwren with a mixed-species flock on the Montezuma road.

GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major)

Good looks at Laguna de Sonso.

BAR-CRESTED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus multistriatus)

A near-endemic (also found in Venezuela) that we saw well at Laguna de Sonso and Hotel Tinamu.

UNIFORM ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus unicolor)

One in the highlands above Montezuma Rainforest Lodge.

BICOLORED ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus occidentalis)

Amazing encounter with this rare species. The distribution is very patchy and local and it is always a good bird to find.

YELLOW-BREASTED ANTWREN (Herpsilochmus axillaris) [*]

STREAK-HEADED ANTBIRD (Drymophila striaticeps) [*]

PARKER'S ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides parkeri) [E]

This endemic was seen at Montezuma Rainforest Lodge, and heard again at Hotel Tinamu.

JET ANTBIRD (Cercomacra nigricans)

Good looks in the dry forest at Laguna de Sonso.

ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (Hafferia zeledoni) [*]

Success! We had fantastic looks at this Colombian endemic, the Chami Antpitta, recently described from the Rufous Antpitta complex. Video by guide Jesse Fagan.

BLUE-LORED ANTBIRD (Hafferia immaculata) [*]

Grallariidae (Antpittas)

MOUSTACHED ANTPITTA (Grallaria alleni) [*]

SCALED ANTPITTA (Grallaria guatimalensis) [*]

CHESTNUT-CROWNED ANTPITTA (Grallaria ruficapilla)

This one showed very well at the Rio Blanco feeding station. It nearly sat on your lap!

BICOLORED ANTPITTA (Grallaria rufocinerea)

Another treat of the Rio Blanco feeding stations is this rare and local species. It took some whistling, but eventually it showed very well.

YELLOW-BREASTED ANTPITTA (Grallaria flavotincta) [*]

RUFOUS ANTPITTA (Grallaria rufula)

The Rufous Antpitta complex has now been split into many species. The species we saw in Tatama NP (Montezuma) is called Chami Antpitta. It is very rufous overall whereas other species have very little rufous.

TAWNY ANTPITTA (Grallaria quitensis)

We glimpsed one or two, but others were calling the paramo at Sierra de Los Nevados.

OCHRE-BREASTED ANTPITTA (Grallaricula flavirostris)

Seen at Montezuma where it put on a show, dancing like Shakira.

HOODED ANTPITTA (Grallaricula cucullata)

Amazing views of this difficult antpitta along the road at Otun-Quimbaya. Incredible! A very near-endemic to Colombia (with only a small distribution in Western Venezuela).

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)

OCELLATED TAPACULO (Acropternis orthonyx)

Some folks got a view of this one through a hole in the vegetation at Rio Blanco.

BLACKISH TAPACULO (Scytalopus latrans) [*]

CHOCO TAPACULO (Scytalopus chocoensis)

The lower elevation endemic tapaculo seen just above the lodge at Montezuma.

TATAMA TAPACULO (Scytalopus alvarezlopezi) [E]

Another endemic tapaculo seen at the higher elevations of Tatama NP.

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Thanks to our local guides and staff at Montezuma Rainforest Lodge for preparing our hardy morning breakfasts. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

NARINO TAPACULO (Scytalopus vicinior)

Seen in the foothills where fairly common. Our first encounter was one at KM 18 above Cali.

SPILLMANN'S TAPACULO (Scytalopus spillmanni) [*]

PARAMO TAPACULO (Scytalopus opacus)

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)

SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius)

OLIVE-BACKED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus triangularis)

One showed nicely with a mixed-species flock as we birded down the road at Montezuma.

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii)

MONTANE WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger)

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans)

BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK (PACIFIC) (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii johnsoni)

Always good to see this one. One popped into a view as we worked a nice mixed-species flock at Montezuma. Didn't stick around long, however.


MONTANE FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Anabacerthia striaticollis)

RUDDY FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Clibanornis rubiginosus) [*]

UNIFORM TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes ignobilis)

We did well on treehunters this trip. This species was seen in the understory a few times at Montezuma.

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The near endemic Purplish-mantled Tanager is a striking bird of the Choco region. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

FLAMMULATED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes flammulatus)

One got super close to our group as we birded the feeders at the military outpost above Montezuma.

STREAK-CAPPED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes virgaticeps)

One danced around us, crossing the road several times, at KM 18 near Finca Alejandria.

SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens)

FULVOUS-DOTTED TREERUNNER (Margarornis stellatus)

PEARLED TREERUNNER (Margarornis squamiger)

ANDEAN TIT-SPINETAIL (Leptasthenura andicola)

A pair showed pretty well in the misty fog above the spa at Sierra de Los Nevados.

MANY-STRIPED CANASTERO (Asthenes flammulata)

Fantastic looks in the paramo near our breakfast spot (La Laguna) in the Sierra de Los Nevados. We watched it sing in the scope.

RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops)

This genus of spinetail includes arboreal species. This species we saw in the canopy quite a lot at KM 18 and Montezuma.

SLATY SPINETAIL (Synallaxis brachyura)

Members of this genus are found in the understory and can be difficult to see well. They are almost always first detected by voice.

PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens)

AZARA'S SPINETAIL (Synallaxis azarae)

RUFOUS SPINETAIL (Synallaxis unirufa)

Pipridae (Manakins)

GOLDEN-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus vitellinus)

We enjoyed a lek of this species at Hotel Tinamu. Lots of snap, crackle, and pop!

Cotingidae (Cotingas)


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We had a lot of luck spotting this pair of Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owls at Montezuma. They were mobbed by a group of angry birds, which we were also happy to look at! Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.


A near endemic that we saw several times at Tatama NP.

SCALED FRUITEATER (Ampelioides tschudii)

Man, what a view! One of the hardest of the fruiteaters to see. We spotted one on an open limb which we were able to scope for lengthy looks.

OLIVACEOUS PIHA (Snowornis cryptolophus)

PURPLE-THROATED FRUITCROW (Querula purpurata) [*]

RED-RUFFED FRUITCROW (Pyroderus scutatus)

Just one at Otun-Quimbaya, but it showed well. We had it in the scope for a little while, too.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor) [*]

CINEREOUS BECARD (Pachyramphus rufus)

A male was seen at Laguna de Sonso.

CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus)

WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus dorsalis)

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

STREAK-NECKED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes striaticollis)

RUFOUS-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon rufipectus)

Seen well in the large mixed-species flocks at Otun-Quimbaya.

VARIEGATED BRISTLE-TYRANT (Phylloscartes poecilotis)

Really nice studies of this small flycatcher with the tawny wingbars at Otun-Quimbaya.

MARBLE-FACED BRISTLE-TYRANT (Phylloscartes ophthalmicus)

A couple of times at Montezuma.

RUFOUS-BROWED TYRANNULET (Phylloscartes superciliaris)

We had incredible looks, including a bit of the rufous brow (!), along the road at Montezuma.

BRONZE-OLIVE PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus pelzelni)

Mostly heard, but seen well at Otun-Quimbaya in the shady understory. Always tough.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A group of mobbing birds brought our attention to this Granadilla snake (Chironius flavopictus) that was climbing a tree. Thankfully, several of the mobbing individuals were the endemic Turquoise Dacnis! Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

RUFOUS-HEADED PYGMY-TYRANT (Pseudotriccus ruficeps)

Another tough one to see well, but we had nice looks at this small understory flycatcher on the higher portions of Tatama NP.

SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus)

BLACK-THROATED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus granadensis)

RUFOUS-CROWNED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus ruficeps)

A snazzy one seen in the tall bamboo at Rio Blanco.

SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia)

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (ASEMUS) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens asemus)

CINNAMON FLYCATCHER (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus)

ORNATE FLYCATCHER (Myiotriccus ornatus)

This cute little flycatcher with the headlights was seen a bunch at Montezuma. Its call reminds me a lot of an Acadian Flycatcher.

HANDSOME FLYCATCHER (Nephelomyias pulcher)


WHITE-TAILED TYRANNULET (Mecocerculus poecilocercus)


YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

Field Guides Birding Tours
From the Choco region, we made our way east and climbed up into the western foothills of the Central Cordillera. Here we are birding the Rio Blanco Reserve. Thanks to participant Alice Whitmore for this photo.

SOOTY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias griseiceps)

A pair showed well at Reserva Vinculo.

BLACK-CAPPED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias nigrocapillus)

ASHY-HEADED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias cinereiceps)

This species and the next (Plumbeous-crowned) are very similar in appearance and best identified by voice. They were both in the same mixed-species flock, and thankfully vocalizing, at Otun-Quimbaya.

PLUMBEOUS-CROWNED TYRANNULET (Phyllomyias plumbeiceps)

GOLDEN-FACED TYRANNULET (GOLDEN-FACED) (Zimmerius chrysops chrysops)

FLAVESCENT FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus flavicans)

BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus)

Not a great name, but not a show-stopper either. Seen at the Comeguada Reservoir.

SMOKE-COLORED PEWEE (Contopus fumigatus)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens)

Good numbers in the lowlands, at least by voice. Colombia is a major wintering area for this species.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

SMOKY BUSH-TYRANT (Myiotheretes fumigatus)

One calling at the military outpost at Tatama NP. Seeing it in the fog seemed to fit the name well.

YELLOW-BELLIED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca diadema) [*]

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the highlights at Rio Blanco are the antpitta feeding stations. This Chestnut-crowned Antpitta nearly sat on Wayne's lap! Great photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

SLATY-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris)

Nice looks near the Otun River. This species likes to be near fast-moving water.

BROWN-BACKED CHAT-TYRANT (Ochthoeca fumicolor)

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus)

APICAL FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus apicalis) [E]

Awesome looks at this endemic in the dry forest of Laguna de Sonso.

PALE-EDGED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cephalotes)

CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa)

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes chrysocephalus)

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

BLACK-BILLED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis nigrirostris) [*]

RUFOUS-NAPED GREENLET (Pachysylvia semibrunnea)

Good numbers in the mixed-species flocks at Montezuma and again at Hotel Tinamu, but can be a pain to see well.

CHOCO VIREO (Vireo masteri)

One was seen briefly by most folks during the pygmy-owl encounter at Montezuma. Unfortunately, it didn't stick around long.

CHIVI VIREO (Vireo chivi)

Here participant Wayne Whitmore tries his hand at a little Tejo during a break at Rio Blanco. Video by guide Jesse Fagan.

YELLOW-GREEN VIREO (Vireo flavoviridis)

These birds were probably wintering or moving through on their way south. They mostly breed in Middle America.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BEAUTIFUL JAY (Cyanolyca pulchra)

Not encountered too often, so this was a treat to have one perched in the open for so long. Seen birding the middle elevations of Tatama NP.

BLACK-CHESTED JAY (Cyanocorax affinis)

GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas)

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)

BROWN-BELLIED SWALLOW (Orochelidon murina)

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

SCALY-BREASTED WREN (SCALY) (Microcerculus marginatus occidentalis) [*]

HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus)

MOUNTAIN WREN (Troglodytes solstitialis)

SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis)

The Sedge Wren complex was split a few years back. The species we saw at La Laguna in the Sierra de los Nevados is now called Grass Wren.

SOOTY-HEADED WREN (Pheugopedius spadix) [*]

SHARPE'S WREN (Cinnycerthia olivascens)

Seen in the understory at Montezuma.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This female Lyre-tailed Nightjar was captured very nicely in the light by Wayne Whitmore. We spent an evening at the Rio Blanco entrance enjoying several males displaying over the road.

WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta)

GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys)

MUNCHIQUE WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina negreti) [E]

This endemic songster was seen in the elfin scrub at the highest portions of the Tatama NP near the military outpost. They showed super well which included some nice duetting by the pair.

CHESTNUT-BREASTED WREN (Cyphorhinus thoracicus)

Always difficult, but we somehow managed to pull one out for good looks.

Cinclidae (Dippers)

WHITE-CAPPED DIPPER (Cinclus leucocephalus)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

ANDEAN SOLITAIRE (Myadestes ralloides) [*]

SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus)

BLACK SOLITAIRE (Entomodestes coracinus)

Seen a few times at Montezuma, but never common or easy to see. This is a near endemic to the Choco region.


A disjunct population that lives in the Cauca Valley with some talk of splitting it in the future. We saw it on our last morning at Hotel Tinamu.

BLACK-BILLED THRUSH (DRAB) (Turdus ignobilis goodfellowi)

GREAT THRUSH (Turdus fuscater)

GLOSSY-BLACK THRUSH (Turdus serranus)

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)


Good numbers at the higher elevations above Montezuma.

YELLOW-COLLARED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia flavirostris)

A near endemic to the Western Cordillera. Not as common at Montezuma as the previous species, but we saw it feeding at mistletoe clumps a few times.

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

Field Guides Birding Tours
We spent a full morning in the Sierra de los Nevados above Manezales birding the high elevation paramo habitat. In the background, Volcan Ruiz is smoldering. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

ORANGE-BELLIED EUPHONIA (Euphonia xanthogaster)

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus)

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

TANAGER FINCH (Oreothraupis arremonops)

Wow, Always a treat. We saw just one, but one was enough!

ASHY-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus canigularis)

COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus)

DUSKY CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus semifuscus)

This species is also called Dusky-bellied Chlorospingus. It is a Western Cordillera (Choco) near-endemic. We saw it in the mixed-species flocks at Montezuma.

GRAY-BROWED BRUSHFINCH (Arremon assimilis assimilis)


OLIVE FINCH (Arremon castaneiceps) [*]

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

TRICOLORED BRUSHFINCH (CHOCO) (Atlapetes tricolor crassus)

SLATY BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes schistaceus)

Incredible views of a bird in the bamboo at Rio Blanco.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The spectacular Buffy Helmetcrest, endemic to Colombia, was near Volcan Ruiz in the Sierra de los Nevados. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

PALE-NAPED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes pallidinucha)

One was visiting the feeders at the spa below Volcan Ruiz. Nothing like free food and hot springs for your territory.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

RUSSET-BACKED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius angustifrons)

YELLOW ORIOLE (Icterus nigrogularis)

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

CARIB GRACKLE (Quiscalus lugubris)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

There was a responsive individual along the marshy edge at Comeguada Reservoir.


MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi)

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea)


The most common wintering warbler we encountered on this tour? Seen nearly every day.

YELLOW WARBLER (NORTHERN) (Setophaga petechia aestiva)

GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus)

Good numbers in the forest at Hotel Tinamu.

THREE-STRIPED WARBLER (Basileuterus tristriatus)

BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) [*]

CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis)

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

CRESTED ANT-TANAGER (Habia cristata) [E]

We caught up with this endemic at one of the stream crossings above Montezuma. This species prefers humid foothill forest along fast moving streams.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

FLAME-RUMPED TANAGER (FLAME-RUMPED) (Ramphocelus flammigerus flammigerus)

Flame-rumped (of the red rump variety) were found in the Central Cordillera and on the east slope of the Western Cordillera. However, the next taxon (of the yellow rump variety) were common at Montezuma on the Choco side. There were some individuals that looked like a mix of the two!

FLAME-RUMPED TANAGER (LEMON-RUMPED) (Ramphocelus flammigerus icteronotus)

CRIMSON-BACKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus dimidiatus)

BLACK-AND-GOLD TANAGER (Bangsia melanochlamys) [E]

Both endemic Bangsia species were seen at Montezuma in the Tatama NP. Gold-ringed were fairly common and seen over several days, but Black-and-gold is more elusive and we only encountered singles on two days.

GOLD-RINGED TANAGER (Bangsia aureocincta) [E]

HOODED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Buthraupis montana)

Awesome looks at a pair while birding the higher portions of Tatama NP.


BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER (Anisognathus somptuosus)

Sharp birds that were regular visitors to the feeders at KM 18 and around Manezales.


Another Choco near-endemic that we encountered a few times birding the middle and higher elevations of Tatama NP. Not super common.

PURPLISH-MANTLED TANAGER (Iridosornis porphyrocephalus)

Seen a few times at Montezuma, but our best looks were near the military outpost where a couple of birds showed amazingly well as they were feeding.

GLISTENING-GREEN TANAGER (Chlorochrysa phoenicotis)

MULTICOLORED TANAGER (Chlorochrysa nitidissima) [E]

Ooohs and ahhhhs for this spectacular tanager. Several males turned up at the KM 18 feeders.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

BLUE-CAPPED TANAGER (Thraupis cyanocephala)

GOLDEN-NAPED TANAGER (Chalcothraupis ruficervix)

BLACK-CAPPED TANAGER (Stilpnia heinei)

SCRUB TANAGER (Stilpnia vitriolina)

BLUE-NECKED TANAGER (Stilpnia cyanicollis)

BLUE-AND-BLACK TANAGER (Tangara vassorii)

BERYL-SPANGLED TANAGER (Tangara nigroviridis)

One of the more common Tangara species in the forest at Montezuma.

METALLIC-GREEN TANAGER (Tangara labradorides)

Fairly common at KM 18 and again in the Central Cordillera foothills around Otun-Quimbaya and Manezales.

BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola)

SAFFRON-CROWNED TANAGER (Tangara xanthocephala)

GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus)

SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala)

TURQUOISE DACNIS (Dacnis hartlaubi) [E]

I don't think we will forget seeing several individuals of this endemic as they mobbed a Granadilla snake at a roadside stop below Puerto Rico!

GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza)

GOLDEN-COLLARED HONEYCREEPER (Iridophanes pulcherrimus)

GUIRA TANAGER (Hemithraupis guira)

They are never seem common, so it was good to catch up with this species at Hotel Tinamu.


We got lucky with a visit to the hummingbird feeders from this species at the military outpost. A very localized endemic.

GLOSSY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa lafresnayii)

BLACK FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa humeralis)


INDIGO FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa indigotica)

Just one this trip, which was a bit of a surprise, but maybe we were out of sync with flowering trees?

BLUISH FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa caerulescens)


PLUMBEOUS SIERRA-FINCH (Geospizopsis unicolor)

SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola)

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)


GRAY SEEDEATER (Sporophila intermedia)

YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis)

Birds were singing on territory at Laguna de Sonso.

PARAMO SEEDEATER (Catamenia homochroa)

Always good to find this high-elevation seedeater. We saw several female-plumaged individuals at La Laguna in the Sierra de los Nevados.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

BLACK-WINGED SALTATOR (Saltator atripennis)

Several singing around Finca La Alejandria.

GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens)

This species is now known as Blue-gray Saltator and is found only in South America.

STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus)


RED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta seniculus)

Several were lounging in the tall ash trees at Otun-Quimbaya.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis)

CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata)

NEOTROPICAL OTTER (Lontra longicaudis)

Totals for the tour: 364 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa