Colombian inter-Andean slopes

Country/Territory Colombia
Area 48,000 km2
Altitude 1000 - 2500m
Priority critical
Habitat loss major
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

Lying within the Andes of Colombia, this EBA embraces the slopes of the Patía, Cauca and Magdalena valleys. At the head of the Magdalena valley it extends on both slopes onto the southernmost end of the East Andes (south of EBA 038). It extends across the Central Andes at a low narrow point (between Manizales and Medellín at c.5°40¢) to the eastern slope of the Central Andes, thus embracing most of the western side of the Magdalena valley and Central Andean foothills. Although traditionally regarded as two separate centres of endemism (the Cauca and Magdalena centres), many of the restricted-range species occur in both valley systems, and they are thus considered here to comprise a single EBA.

The EBA is characterized by the mid-elevation (subtropical) evergreen forests of the Andean foothills at 1,000-2,500 m. The species confined to the drier vegetation of the valley floors (Colombian inter-Andean valleys, EBA 039) may overlap altitudinally with some of those from the humid forest, especially where clearance has resulted in dry scrub spreading up the valley sides. Also adjacent is the North Central Andes (EBA 042), whose species sometimes overlap altitudinally with species on the slopes of the Central Andes, although the birds of the North Central Andes generally occupy higher areas (2,000-3,600 m) and are confined to humid upper montane forest and cloud forest.

Restricted-range species

The species primarily occupy humid foothill and lower montane forest with associated edge and secondary vegetation, mainly at c.1,200-2,500 m.

A number of species from this EBA are also found on the Pacific slope of the West Andes within the Chocó (EBA 041). Penelope perspicax occurs in just a few low passes and is thus regarded as confined to the inter-Andean area, much as the species found in (presumably the same) low passes on the eastern side of the West Andes are taken to be restricted to the Chocó (see EBA 041). Bangsia melanochlamys is primarily a bird of the Pacific slope of the West Andes (EBA 041), but is known from a disjunct population on the northern and western slopes of the Central Andes in Antioquia department (where it has however been recorded from very few localities, and not since 1948) (Collar et al. 1992). Tinamus osgoodi has a curious distribution: the subspecies hershkovitzi is known from just two localities within this EBA (one is the Cueva de los Guácharos National Park), and the only other population lies c.2,000 km south in the Peruvian East Andean foothills (EBA 053).

Birds which are almost certainly Grallaria alleni have been seen and tape-recorded in the Cordillera de Guacamayo in Ecuador (P. Coopmans in litt. 1995), which would extend the species' range into the North Central Andes (EBA 042). A specimen of Black Inca Coeligena prunellei from Salento in the Central Andes (Collar et al. 1992) is now suspected to be in error (A. J. Negret in litt. 1994), and the species has therefore been omitted from consideration for this EBA (it is thus confined to the Colombian East Andes, EBA 038).

Species IUCN Category
Black Tinamou (Tinamus osgoodi) VU
Cauca Guan (Penelope perspicax) EN
Chestnut Wood-quail (Odontophorus hyperythrus) LC
Tolima Dove (Leptotila conoveri) NT
Rufous-vented Whitetip (Urosticte ruficrissa) LC
(Anthocephala floriceps) NR
Moustached Antpitta (Grallaria alleni) VU
Hooded Antpitta (Grallaricula cucullata) VU
Scalloped Antthrush (Chamaeza turdina) LC
Yellow-headed Manakin (Chloropipo flavicapilla) VU
Black-chested Fruiteater (Pipreola lubomirskii) LC
Yellow-headed Brush-finch (Atlapetes flaviceps) NT
Dusky-headed Brush-finch (Atlapetes fuscoolivaceus) NT
Red-bellied Grackle (Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster) VU
Turquoise Dacnis (Dacnis hartlaubi) VU
Multicolored Tanager (Chlorochrysa nitidissima) NT
Black-and-gold Tanager (Bangsia melanochlamys) VU

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
CO028 Reserva Forestal Yotoco Colombia
CO031 Farallones de Cali Natural National Park Colombia
CO036 La Forzosa-Santa Gertrudis Colombia
CO045 Reserva Hidrográfica, Forestal y Parque Ecológico de Río Blanco Colombia
CO047 Bosques del Oriente de Risaralda Colombia
CO050 Cañón del Río Barbas y Bremen Colombia
CO054 Cañón del Río Combeima Colombia
CO055 Cuenca del Río Toche Colombia
CO057 Páramos y Bosques Altoandinos de Génova Colombia
CO063 Puracé Natural National Park Colombia
CO064 Reserva Natural Meremberg Colombia
CO065 Parque Nacional Natural Cueva de los Guácharos Colombia
CO139 Serranía de los Paraguas Colombia
CO141 Serranía de las Minas Colombia

Threat and conservation

Both the Cauca and Magdalena valleys (and the mountain slopes bounding them) have been severely deforested over a long history of human colonization, and the area is now characterized by remnant (often secondary) forest patches, pasture, coffee, banana plantations, etc. (Collar et al. 1992, Wege and Long 1995). In the Cauca valley at the northern end of the West Andes, extensive forest destruction for pasture has confined remaining forest to ridge crests and isolated patches, with humid subtropical forest almost totally gone from the middle part of the valley (e.g. in the Quindío watershed). Similarly, at the northernmost end of the Central Andes, forest destruction has been near-complete, with extensive clearance around Medellín leaving just remnant patches of primary and old secondary growth (among coffee and Pinus patulla plantations) in urgent need of protection. At the head of the Magdalena valley, forest has given way to coffee, bananas and sugar-cane, with the western slope of the southernmost East Andes (e.g. Cueva de los Guácharos National Park) increasingly threatened by human encroachment and opium production (Wege and Long 1995).

The widespread (though localized) destruction of natural vegetation in this EBA has resulted in all but two of the restricted-range species being considered either threatened (nine species) or Near Threatened (five species), with one species classified as Data Deficient. The widespread (though localized) but threatened Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis (classified as Critical) and Golden-plumed Parakeet (Vulnerable) also occur in this EBA, and similarly are threatened almost exclusively by forest loss.

Sixteen Key Areas for the threatened birds have been identified in this EBA, including important protected areas such as Los Nevados, Cueva de los Guácharos and Munchique National Parks, Ucumarí Regional Park, Alto Quindío Acaime Natural Reserve and Cañon del Quindío Natural Reserve, Bosque de Yotoco Reserve and Tambito Nature Reserve (Wege and Long 1995). With such widespread forest destruction, the value of these areas cannot be overstated as critically important sites for conservation.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Colombian inter-Andean slopes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/09/2021.