Did you know that Colombia has the world’s highest bird diversity?

By some estimates, there are over 1,900 species here, comprising 20 percent of the bird diversity of the entire world. It means you don’t have to go very far to see an astonishing variety and number of feathered friends, and some are knock-out beautiful. This website, Birds of Colombia, is a great resource.

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My distracting view

Our backyard in El Retiro, Colombia is built into a wooded slope that climbs rather steeply to the neighborhood above, and for some reason it seems to be a real birdy paradise. When I’m working, I look out on the whole thing – and the daily avian drama can be pretty distracting! I’ve never really thought of myself as a birder, and I’m certainly no great bird photographer. But I’ve taken to keeping my camera on my desk to make sure I don’t miss any interesting backyard bird sightings or another new species that’s come to check out our makeshift feeder.

Here’s a look at some of our backyard birds. 

Andean Motmot
My Facebook friends are probably getting sick of my motmots! I have taken hundreds of photos of these beauties, who don’t seem to mind sitting still for minutes at a time and posing. And sometimes they’ll hop around for a rear view – they seem to know their tail feathers are spectacular!

Colombian Chachalaca

Who needs roosters when you have chachalacas? They are about the size of a small turkey, and their name comes from the LOUD and raucous calls they make early in the morning. This is EXACTLY what they sound like (credit: Ross Gallardy at DiBird.com). What a wake-up call!

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One of our backyard chachalacas in mid-squawk.

Great Kiskadee

Kiskadees are super-common here, but they have only recently started venturing into our backyard bird sanctuary.

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A Great Kiskadee strikes a noble pose.

Blue-gray Tanager

These little lovelies are also really common but harder to photograph, since they tend to flit around a lot.

Acorn Woodpecker

These birds are really skittish, and I have yet to get a really decent shot of one. But they also have been more numerous in our backyard lately. I’ll keep trying, and maybe I’ll come up with a better photo one of these days!

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Acorn Woodpecker in mid-peck.

Hmm, maybe I’m turning into a birder after all! As John and I spot and photograph new (to us) species of backyard birds, we’ll keep adding to this post.

Have a lovely and nature-filled week, everyone!

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52 Comments

  1. It appears you’re loving your new nest up in the Andes. We’re happy for you. We had a flock of Chachalakas outside our building in Envigado. The best alarm clock there is. We could have set a watch by their squawks every morning.

    • Your bird photos are wonderful just like your beautiful back yard. I love Andean motmots and miss seeing them!

      • John and Susan Pazera Reply

        Thanks, Henry! The motmots will be here waiting for you when you come back for a visit 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, amigo! The first time we heard the chachas, we almost jumped right out of bed! Their wakeup call beats loud motos, diesel trucks, and air pollution any day, though 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks! They’ve been good COVID entertainment 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Aww, thanks, mi tia! Love you <3

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks Jofannie! Hope you’re well and can make a trip to Colombia soon.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, amiga – they make the covid lockdowns a lot more bearable!

  2. We don’t consider ourselves birders either, but we really enjoyed all of the lovely birds in Colombia. I can’t imagine having those beautiful motmots in my backyard everyday! Such great pictures. Maggie

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks – they really are a nice distraction! Hoping to see a few more interesting species as time goes by. Hope you two are well!

  3. What colourful birds, stunning! We feed the birds in our garden and although we have a few pretty ones we certainly don’t have such vivid colours as your birds, they are lovely 😊

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I’ll bet your birds are beautiful! It’s so nice to live once again in a place that attracts birds – we missed that when we left Panama for Medellin. Be well!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, thanks! It’s a nice distraction from the cares of our world today, for sure 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank YOU, Natalie! Be well 🙂

  4. What an amazing place you have found to live! I love that view from your office. I’d be distracted as well. Great bird shots. While I’m not a birder, I think it would make a great hobby for patient nature enthusiasts. 🙂

    By the way, I recently talked about you – in person – with… Lisa Dorenfest. It was so great to see her and the Captain again after seven years!!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Liesbet! I don’t think I have the patience to be a true-blue birder either – the thought of sitting for hours and hours waiting for birds would drive me crazy, I think. That’s what nice about our birds – they make it easy by coming to us!

      Lisa and Fabio are two of our favorite people. They probably told you we got to meet them on their boat in Curaçao (almost two years ago – yikes!) and then they came to Medellin and we got to hang out a little (and met Lisa’s dad, a lovely man). We even tossed around the idea of being line handlers for them when they did their Panama Canal transit (it didn’t work out, mostly because my work schedule wouldn’t allow it). Love those two 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you – we are lucky and blessed indeed! Be well 🙂

  5. Beautiful birds, your pictures are beautiful, I would love to travel to Colombia once this pandemic is over.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We hope you can make a visit to Colombia soon, and we would love to meet you! Take care 🙂

  6. Nancy Klein Reply

    Beautiful photos of so many different kinds of birds! Thanks for sharing them!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Nancy! Hope you’re well 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Mel! Hope you’re well 🙂

  7. Wow so many colourful visitors in your garden, particularly like the tanagers and the woodpeckers. Fabulous colours.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Jonno! Really hoping to get some better pictures of those woodpeckers one of these days. They are so interesting to watch! Hope you guys are well.

  8. I don’t consider myself as a birder either, but I always enjoy a company of any birds from outside of my window — I even enjoy it a lot when it’s a common, humble sparrow. Those are some lovely and magnificent birds you saw, Susan. I can imagine how relaxing it would be for me just looking at the colorful plumage.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I guess I’m what you’d call a lazy birder – I’m not going to go out of my way looking for them, but if they pop up in my window they’re irresistible! Thanks for your kind comment, Bama. Hope you and yours are staying well and healthy in these troubling times.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hey, we’re going to hold you to that 🙂 Have a lovely day, Muriel.

  9. I don’t know a great deal about birds, but I do love watching them. You have captured some beautiful birds with your camera, amazing to have so much variety in your own backyard.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Gilda! Hoping to keep adding to the “collection.” Hope you two are well – planning another trip anytime soon?

  10. Wonderful pictures!
    I’ve just spent some time enjoying your last few posts and catching up with everything new in your lives. Your new home base sounds amazing and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the freedom of having your own car to explore the nooks and crannies of your adopted country! Having one’s own car is almost a necessity in the mostly rural Algarve and I’ve especially appreciated wandering the dirt roads and exploring small villages without being tied to a bus or train schedule or dependent on taxis.
    The vaccine rollout here in Portugal is excruciatingly slow but it looks like May or June (fingers crossed) will be my turn for the jabs. Although it’s hard to be patient sometimes, I try to keep in mind that I’ve been lucky and have remained healthy. After a year of lockdowns, trying to keep track of the loosening or tightening restrictions when infection rates flare up, curfews and travel restrictions, I find that I’m getting used to the “new abnormal.” After a lot of deliberation, I adopted a rescue dog in October and have greatly enjoyed having a walking companion. (I know you, as dog lovers, will agree that there’s something special about our canine friends.)
    So good to find you both thriving, loving your new abode and staying healthy. Congratulations also on your well-deserved growing readership!
    Sending my best, Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Anita – so great to hear from you!

      Exploring rural areas by car sounds like a lovely (and COVID-safe) way to get to know your chosen country better. That’s the tack we’ve been taking here, at least until we can start traveling internationally again. We’re really enjoying exploring the little towns that are easy to drive to from here.

      “New abnormal” is a perfect description of these crazy times. Everyone had such high hopes that the vaccine rollout would get the world out of this mess soon, but it’s been so troubled in so many parts of the world (including Colombia). All we can do is keep hoping that global vaccine distribution will improve soon and that everyone will have a chance at a shot (and not just the folks in the “rich” countries). It’s been very interesting to have the shoe on the other foot here as residents of a non-“rich” country. It’s given us an interesting perspective on global inequities of all kinds, not just related to vaccines. We’re still hoping we can get jabbed here, but more likely will have to get it done when we go to Texas in May.

      Congrats on your new fur baby! And thank you for your lovely message. We are trying to be optimistic that we can get to Spain and possibly Portugal by the end of the year, but having had to cancel two other Spain trips now, we’re not banking on it. We’ll see!

      Hugs,
      Susan (and John)

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much – we really are blessed 🙂

  11. What a gorgeous photo collection of birds of Colombia. I had no idea so many species lived there. The chachalaca is certain to give the rooster a challenge for best alarm clock. Wowza to that call outside one’s window!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      The chachas are a wake-up call, for sure! Thanks, Sue – hope you and Dave are well and hanging in there.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, and thanks for visiting 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Caroline, and thanks! Nothing boring about hummers – we have a few here, and a feeder, but I haven’t been able to capture one yet. Hope you’re doing well!

  12. There’s nothing like waking to birdsong. It’s always a treat returning home to Australia and hearing the rainbow lorikeets, rosellas, and kookaburras. I haven’t seen a lot of these breeds but they’re really beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi – thanks for your comment! We would love to experience the birds of Australia someday (and a lot more of Australia!). Hoping you and yours are well and healthy.

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