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In Colombia, a vibrant tapestry of birdlife sings a melody of diverse beauty. Yet, some of these face the silence of extinction.

Here, dedicated NGOs step in as vital conductors:

  • Habitat Guardians: They establish and manage protected areas, like national parks, safeguarding vital nesting and foraging grounds for endangered species like the White-throated Toucan and Emerald Toucanet.
  • Combating Threats: From tackling illegal bird trade and habitat destruction to mitigating the impacts of climate change, NGOs work to address the multifaceted threats these birds face.
  • Monitoring and Research: Through meticulous studies on population trends and breeding successes, they gather crucial data to inform conservation strategies for the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and Andean Condor.
  • Community Champions: Fostering understanding and appreciation for these iconic birds among local communities, NGOs encourage responsible interactions and inspire participation in conservation efforts.
  • Advocacy and Awareness: By educating the public and advocating for policy changes, they generate broader support for bird conservation, securing a brighter future for these feathered marvels.

These dedicated organizations work tirelessly to ensure that the songs of Colombia’s endangered and endemic birds continue to fill the skies for generations to come.

White-throated toucan

Scientific name: Ramphastos tucanus
Conservation status: Vulnerable

The white-throated toucan is one of the most fascinating and exotic species of toucans found in the South American rainforests. It is a species of toucan native to the Amazon Basin. It inhabits tropical humid forests, but can also occasionally be found in woodlands.

The White-throated Toucan possesses distinct features that set it apart from other toucan species. Firstly, they have a large body predominantly black. However, the most significant is their white throat, which is their primary differentiating feature. Additionally, their large and colorful bill is the dominant attraction, with shades of yellow, green and orange on the upper part. This generous bill leaves a striking and unique impression of the bird. Notably, White-throated Toucans weigh up to 620 grams/22 ounces.

Typically, this species finds its habitat in the lowland rain forest in South America, especially in countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru. They favor the rainforest canopy, where they can forage for food and seek shelter from predators. White-throated Toucans are arboreal creatures, meaning they are more commonly found above the trees than on the ground.

Like most toucan species, White-throated Toucans are frugivorous, primarily feeding on fruits. They also consume seeds, small insects and occasionally supplemental foods like small birds and reptiles, including minuscule lizards. Their large bills are incredibly useful for peeling tough fruits and reaching difficult-to-access food in tall trees.

White-throated Toucans live in small groups, these flocks often consist of several individuals that cooperate in searching for food and sharing responsibilities in caring for their offspring. White-throated Toucans are monogamous animals, meaning they form lifelong pairs.

White-throated Toucans frequently use their loud and distinctive calls to communicate with each other in the rainforest. Researchers estimate their lifespan to be around 20 to 26 years.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Emerald toucanet

Scientific name: Aulacorhynchus prasinus
Conservation status: Stable

You have just read about toucans, but did you know about the toucanets? The emerald toucanet is a species of bird that looks like a small toucan. The Southern Emerald Toucanet is a species of toucan in the Ramphastidae family and the order Piciformes.

Males and females are similar in color but different in size,  with the males slightly larger and heavier. The feathers are generally green, the bill mainly black, with yellow at the top of the upper mandible and the base of the bill with a white edge. The throat can be blue grey or white.

The approximate size of the adult is 33 cm. It is found too in Mexico to Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia. In Colombia, it is located in the three mountain ranges and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, at heights between 1,300 and 3 000m/4,265 and 9,843’.

The Emerald Toucanet resides mostly in wet and very wet humid forests. It also can be found in forest edges and secondary forests, usually in the treetops. Like the other species of the genus, they live as couples or small groups.

Small flocks, usually consisting of 5-10 birds, move through the forest mainly feeding as an arboreal fruit eaters, but they also feed on insects, small birds, lizards and other birds’ eggs. The birdwatching tourism boom in Colombia has been a driver for birders and ornithologists to organize themselves in local clubs or in ornithology associations. 

The goal is to share knowledge and to raise awareness of bird conservation to all those who enjoy the activity. Some of them also promote their regions as bird-watching destinations.

Andean cock-of-the-rock

Scientific name: Rupicola peruvianus
Conservation status: Stable

The funny-looking Andean Cock-of-the-rock is one of the most popular birds of the cloud forests of the Western Andes in Colombia. Also known as the tunki in indigenous Quechua, it is a species of passerine bird native to the Andean cloud forests in South America.

This species is identified by its crest and brilliant orange plumage. Males spend much of their time displaying at leks (mating rituals), where they jump up and down on particular branches and utter low, guttural croaks. They have significant sexual dimorphism: males have a large crest with brilliant orange plumage, while females are browner and darker.

The name is derived from their preference for rocks and ledges as substrates (earthy material) for their mud cup nests. Often elusive to observe away from leks, the birds can sometimes be found feeding at fruiting trees. Its diet is made of fruits, reptiles, insects, mice and amphibians. They are mostly active in the mornings and late afternoons, especially near rivers.

They are found from Venezuela to Bolivia in the Andes. Though this bird is not considered to be endangered at this moment, it is continually threatened by habitat destruction.

Colombia has more bird species than any other country on the planet, with a record of approximately 1,940 species, or 20 percent of all birds worldwide. This unique avian wealth, including 275 migratory birds that connect Colombia to the rest of the Americas, highlights the great responsibility that Colombia has to conserve its valuable bird diversity and the habitats they depend upon for their survival.

Collared Inca

Scientific name: Coeligena torquate
Conservation status: Stable

This large, flashy hummingbird is a common resident throughout much of the Andes, where it inhabits lush cloud forests and frequently is seen drinking nectar from the beautiful flowers or visiting feeders.
The brilliant white breast patch and long, straight bill are distinctive features. The white tail markings really stand out when it flares its tail, which it often does when interacting with other hummers around flowers or feeders. It takes its energy from flower nectar just like other hummingbirds, which it drinks while it in turn pollinates the flower. It also feeds on insects and small arthropods as a source of protein.  

The male is darker than the female, sometimes almost black, which makes his colorful crown patch more evident. Birds found south of central Peru and north of the Colombia-Venezuela border region are now considered to be separate species, Gould’s Inca and Green Inca respectively.

Usually, the collared inca is a solitary creature and it lives in the open at various altitudes, from 1,800m/5,900’ to 3,000m/9,800’.

WWF Colombia is the largest independent international organization dedicated to nature and environmental conservation. It has more than 5 million members and an active global network through local leadership in more than 100 countries.

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