Colombian inter-Andean valleys

Country/Territory Colombia
Area 31,000 km2
Altitude 200 - 1700m
Priority high
Habitat loss major
Knowledge good

General characteristics

This EBA is situated in Colombia between the main Andean ranges, embracing the Patía valley (which separates the Central and West Andes south of Popayán), the Cauca valley, and the west side and head of the Magdalena valley. At the head of the Magdalena valley, the EBA extends onto the southernmost end of the East Andes. The EBA thus includes: the eastern slope of the West Andes (in both the Patía and Cauca valleys); the western slope of the Central Andes; the eastern slope of the Central Andes; the head of the Magdalena valley (see above); and it extends onto the Pacific slope of the West Andes in the dry Dagua and Calima valleys (and thus dovetails with the Chocó, EBA 041). At the northern end of the Magdalena valley the EBA includes the isolated Suárez and Chicamocha valleys which dovetail with the East Andes (EBA 038).

These Andean valleys are primarily 200-1,700 m above sea-level, and as such their natural vegetation comprises open woodland, dry forest and arid scrub; much of the area has, however, now been converted to agricultural land with little natural vegetation remaining (see 'Threats and Conservation', below). The EBA abuts the Colombian inter-Andean slopes (EBA 040), though that region lies at higher elevations (chiefly 1,200-2,600 m) and within a more humid vegetation zone.

Restricted-range species

Of the restricted-range species, the requirements of Cypseloides lemosi are essentially unknown, although most observations have historically been made over dry non-forest areas at the head of the Cauca valley (Collar et al. 1992). Both Myiarchus apicalis and Euphonia concinna rely on the dry, more open vegetation characteristic of the valley bottoms and dry side valleys, with Picumnus granadensis also able to exist in some more humid situations. The clearance of humid forest on the slopes of the Andes in this area has led to the expansion of dry secondary forest up-slope from this EBA, and consequently some of the endemics in this area are starting to occur at similar altitudes to the endemics in the adjacent but higher-altitude Colombian inter-Andean slopes (EBA 040). This is the case with Myiarchus apicalis, which primarily occurs below 1,700 m but has recently been found in a number of areas up to 2,500 m (Ridgely and Tudor 1994).

All four restricted-range species are endemic to the EBA: Euphonia concinna is confined to the Magdalena valley, Cypseloides lemosi to the Cauca valley (although recent sightings suggest that it also occurs in neighbouring Ecuador: B. M. Whitney in litt. 1991, S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1996) and Picumnus granadensis to the Cauca and Pacific slope valleys; Myiarchus apicalis has the broadest distribution, being found in the Magdalena, Cauca and Pacific slope valleys. Both Picumnus granadensis and Myiarchus apicalis occur in the dry Dagua and Calima valleys on the Pacific slope of the West Andes, where they undoubtedly exist alongside the humid forest species typical of the Chocó (EBA 041). However, these two species are not considered shared with the Chocó due to their different habitat preferences.

Species IUCN Category
White-chested Swift (Cypseloides lemosi) LC
Greyish Piculet (Picumnus granadensis) LC
Apical Flycatcher (Myiarchus apicalis) LC
Velvet-fronted Euphonia (Euphonia concinna) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Paraíso de aves del Tabor y Magdalena Colombia
CO027 Reserva Natural Laguna de Sonso Colombia
CO028 Reserva Forestal Yotoco Colombia
CO047 Bosques del Oriente de Risaralda Colombia
CO081 Bosques de Tolemaida, Piscilago y alrededores Colombia
CO125 Enclave Seco del Río Dagua Colombia
CO132 Haciendas Ganaderas del Norte del Cauca Colombia
CO162 Reserva Natural Cajibío Colombia

Threat and conservation

All three valleys (Cauca, Magdalena and Patía), and the mountain slopes that bound them, have been severely deforested during past decades due primarily to the expansion of agriculture. However, although Cypseloides lemosi is considered threatened (possibly because of agrochemical applications in the area in which it remains poorly known), the other three endemics in the area are apparently adapted to scrub and secondary growth (which is expanding as a result of forest clearance and subsequent abandonment), so have not suffered from the deforestation in the same way that the subtropical humid forest species have done on the inter-Andean slopes (see EBA 040). Nevertheless, very little original vegetation remains, and the EBA species are essentially unprotected within the formal protected-area system.

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