Colibri de Sol: This nature reserve of 7,044 acres (2,852 hectares) in western Colombia encompasses both dense forest and high-altitude plains that are characterized by high levels of species found nowhere else. An expedition to this region in 2004 led to the rediscovery of the Critically Endangered dusky starfrontlet (Coeligena orina) that had not been seen for 50 years. This reserve also provides refuge for other threatened species, such as the chestnut-bellied flowerpiercer (Diglossa gloriosissima). Colibri de Sol is expected to become a new AZE site in the next species update for the dusky starfrontlet.
El Dorado: Named after the legendary city of gold for its tremendous conservation value, this 1,800-acre (728-hectare) nature reserve protects the highest concentration of site-restricted and threatened birds and amphibians in the world. It is a refuge for the core breeding population of the Santa Marta parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata). One of more than 20 endemic birds here, the parakeet derives its name from a 19,000-foot massif that rises from the Caribbean. The reserve is tucked between the glaciers of the Sierra Nevada and the mangroves of Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, and is part of the Parque Nacional Natural Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta AZE site.
Watch El Dorado Bird Reserve video from Fundación ProAves
El Mirador: This nature reserve is a 5,510-acre (2,230-hectare) stronghold for Fuertes’s parrot (Hapalopsittaca fuertesi), a species rediscovered in 2002 after having been “lost” for 91 years. The reforestation of this habitat along with a successful artificial nest box campaign has resulted in a doubling of the global population of this strikingly colorful species that, in 2002, amounted to just 60 individuals living in an unprotected mountain cloud forest in the Central Andes. Of 11 endemic bird species that occur only here, nine are globally threatened.
El Pangán: It rains up to 23 feet (seven meters) each year on this 11,964-acre (4,844-hectare) reserve. Lush with vegetation, this site sits in the heart of one of the world’s wettest and most biologically unique regions. It spans the Rio Ñambí Valley, rising from lowland wet forest to upper subtropical cloud forest, and is home to many endemic birds, including the Endangered Chocó vireo ( Vireo masteri), discovered in 1991.
El Paujil: This 2,964-acre (1,200-hectare) nature reserve is a home to a core population of Colombia’s most enigmatic species: the Critically Endangered blue-billed curassow (Crax alberti), known locally as “El Paujíl.” An important symbol in ancient pre-Colombian indigenous culture, this bird was virtually unknown until an expedition in 2003 located a viable population in the humid lowland forest of the Magdalena valley. Since having been afforded protection in the reserve, the species’ population has increased by 20 percent each year.
Watch El Paujil Bird Reserve video from Fundación ProAves
Loro Orejiamarillo: One of Colombia’s most threatened birds – the Critically Endangered yellow-eared parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) – depends on the tall wax palms (Colombia’s national tree) that grow on this 741-acre (300-hectare) site. An artificial nest-box program at Loro Orejiamarillo is aiding the recovery of this species whose population has climbed from 81 to 750 individuals. The Endangered chestnut-bellied flowerpiercer (Diglossa gloriosissima) also finds refuge on the reserve, which is part of the Bosques montanos del sur de Antioquia AZE site.
Mirabilis-Swarovski: The aptly named colorful puffleg (Eriocnemis mirabilis) – one of the world’s most threatened and enigmatic hummingbirds – is an extreme habitat specialist and dependent on the wet mountain forest on the Pacific slope of the west Andes that’s protected by this 4,693-acre (1,900-hectare) reserve. Discovered in 1967, this Critically Endangered species is estimated at only around 50 to 250 birds.
Reinita Cerulea: A global stronghold for gorgeted wood-quail (Odontophorus strophium) and mountain grackle (Macroagelaius subalaris) — both Critically Endangered birds that depend on this 3,211-acre (1,300-hectare) fragment of natural forest — this nature reserve is also South America’s first protected area for a migratory songbird; it provides shelter for a core population of wintering cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea). While not an AZE species, the cerulean warbler is losing habitat in its North American nesting grounds as well as in subtropical forests.