Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I'm not the only one who has come to enjoy Colombia recently. As well as the many species of resident birds, their are quite a few migrants who come here in the Autumn (or should I say fall!) after breeding in North America. 

There are many warblers in the trees and bushes around the city. From our balcony I now see Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) nearly every day.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)
I've seen Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia) a few times. They feed by running up and down the tree trunks very like a Treecreeper in Britain. Like all the warblers, they're hard to digiscope at a distance because they move all the time.

Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia)
Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina) are also frequent at the moment, but they are a little less distinctive.

Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)

I've also seen Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea) from the balcony, and there are lots of Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca) around the city too. Many warblers present something of a challenge to ID here as many are not in their bright summer plumage. In addition, they are not singing at all, so I'll have to improve my ID skills.
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) seem to be plentiful. Whilst looking at one, I noticed these malar stripes, which means it is in fact a Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus). I don't think they're often seen here on migration, but it was around for a week or more and I was lucky to get this shot.
Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus)
There are a few other larger migrant birds. Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) are common, both bright red (male) and dull yellow (females/juveniles).

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) female
I've also seen one Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) and Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) on a few occasions.

Last, but not least, on 29th October, late in the afternoon, I saw about 2000 Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) spread across the sky, circling and all moving south, high over the city. These vultures are a common sight in and around Bucaramanga, but as you usually see only a handful in one place, I had no doubt these were migrant birds and not residents.

migrating Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura)

I found this website Turkey Vulture Migration Project which gives details of some GPS tagged North American Turkey Vultures. It seems some migrate from western Canada migrate to winter in the llanos of Venezuela, and, based on those tracks, I suspect the birds I saw may have been coming from there. If they want to go east of here to Venezuela, I'm not sure how they are crossing the high Eastern Cordillera of the Andes. Apparently over 100,000 Turkey Vultures cross the Darien Gap into Colombia in the Autumn, I'd love to see that, as well of some of the other migrating raptors. Perhaps there is still time for a few more sightings of migrants here this year?

1 comment:

  1. HI!!!
    I am a student of the Master in International Tourism at the University of Lugano, and I need your help for my Master Thesis.
    I am analyzing the potentials of Colombia as a new, successful destination for backpackers.
    I believe this Country may represent the perfect destination for this kind of tourism thanks to his natural and cultural diversity.

    If you have ever backpacked Colombia, I would kindly ask you to complete this short survey or please forward it.

    thank you!! :)


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