Northern Central Andes

Country/Territory Colombia,Ecuador
Area 36,000 km2
Altitude 1500 - 3700m
Priority critical
Habitat loss major
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This EBA embraces all the mountains above c.2,500 m throughout the Central Andean chain of Colombia and northern Ecuador, to south of the equator at around Ambato (c.1°30´S). In Colombia, the Central Andes has a main ridge-line at c.3,000 m with isolated peaks (and massifs) reaching greater altitudes throughout; consequently, the EBA is concentrated around a number of disjunct areas, namely Nevados del Huila, Ruiz and Tolima, Volcán Puracé, Nevados de Cumbal and Chiles. In Ecuador, the EBA extends south to include the Cotacachi and Cayambe mountains, the mountains either side of the central valley (and Quito) and south to Cotopaxi, terminating at the break in the mountains caused by the Napo and Pastaza rivers. The Southern Central Andes (EBA 046) lies adjacent to the south.

The primary habitat is tropical upper montane evergreen forest and elfin forest. The Central Andean páramo (EBA 043) abuts these forest areas on all the same mountain massifs, but lies at higher altitudes. In a number of areas the Northern Central Andes is adjacent to (and may overlap with) the Ecuador-Peru East Andes (EBA 044), though that is a lower-altitude region.

Restricted-range species

Most of the restricted-range birds occur at 2,000-3,650 m, where they are all dependent on montane and cloud forest. All nine restricted-range species are found in various combinations on the highland massifs mentioned above. The ranges of three species continue south of the Napo in the montane forests of the Southern Central Andes (EBA 046).

Hapalopsittaca fuertesi is apparently confined to the Nevados del Tolima, Quindío and Santa Isabel, whereas the closely related H. amazonina is primarily a bird of the Andes in Venezuela (EBA 034), and the East Andes of Colombia (EBA 038), although the subspecies velezi is known from the Nevado del Ruiz near Manizales in this EBA and birds have recently been recorded in the northern Andes of Ecuador (R. Williams verbally 1997). Records of Hapalopsittaca parrots at the head of the Magdalena valley (on the east slope of the Central Andes in this EBA, and on the west slope of the East Andes, EBA 038) may also refer to H. a. velezi, although confirmation is needed (Collar et al. 1992). Grallaria gigantea has been recorded at a number of localities on the east slope of this EBA, with just two records extending its range south to the Southern Central Andes (EBA 046) (Collar et al. 1992, Krabbe et al. 1994). G. milleri is confined to the Nevado del Tolima-Ruiz area where it had gone unrecorded since 1942 until 1994 when rediscovered in the Ucumarí Regional Park (Cotinga 1995, 3: 8-9). Birds which are almost certainly Moustached Antpitta G. alleni have been seen and tape-recorded in this EBA in Ecuador's Cordillera de Guacamayo (P. Coopmans in litt. 1995), and this would extend the range of the species currently treated as endemic to the Colombian inter-Andean slopes (EBA 040).

Species IUCN Category
Chestnut Wood-quail (Odontophorus hyperythrus) LC
Black-thighed Puffleg (Eriocnemis derbyi) NT
Rusty-faced Parrot (Hapalopsittaca amazonina) VU
Indigo-winged Parrot (Hapalopsittaca fuertesi) CR
Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea) VU
Bicolored Antpitta (Grallaria rufocinerea) VU
Brown-banded Antpitta (Grallaria milleri) VU
Crescent-faced Antpitta (Grallaricula lineifrons) LC
White-rimmed Brush-finch (Atlapetes leucopis) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
CO045 Reserva Hidrográfica, Forestal y Parque Ecológico de Río Blanco Colombia
CO047 Bosques del Oriente de Risaralda Colombia
CO052 Reserva Natural Ibanasca Colombia
CO053 Alto Quindío Colombia
CO055 Cuenca del Río Toche Colombia
CO057 Páramos y Bosques Altoandinos de Génova Colombia
CO059 Reservas Comunitarias de Roncesvalles Colombia
CO063 Puracé Natural National Park Colombia
CO064 Reserva Natural Meremberg Colombia
CO068 Reserva Natural Río Ñambí Colombia
CO070 Lago Cumbal Colombia
CO138 Santuario de Fauna y Flora Galeras Colombia
CO141 Serranía de las Minas Colombia
EC046 Estación Biológica Guandera-Cerro Mongus Ecuador
EC047 La Bonita-Santa Bárbara Ecuador
EC049 Parque Nacional Cayambe-Coca Ecuador
EC051 Cordillera de Huacamayos-San Isidro-Sierra Azul Ecuador
EC056 Parque Nacional Llanganates Ecuador
EC109 Manteles - El Triunfo - Sucre Ecuador

Threat and conservation

The upper montane forests in this EBA (especially in the 2,000-3,200 m zone) have been subjected to widespread and severe deforestation during this and previous centuries to the extent that most, if not all, of the forest has been cleared in many areas . The forests continue to be felled as a result of agricultural expansion (including clearance for pasture), and further degradation is projected to continue (Collar et al. 1992, 1994). The poor state of the forest in this EBA is reflected by the fact that all of the restricted-range birds are considered either threatened or Near Threatened. The widespread (though localized) but threatened Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis (classified as Critical) and Golden-plumed Parakeet Leptosittaca branickii (Vulnerable) also occur in this EBA.

A number of Key Areas for the threatened birds have been identified in this EBA, including (in Colombia) Los Nevados National Park, Puracé National Park, Ucumarí Regional Park, Río Blanco Watershed Reserve, Alto Quindío Acaime Natural Reserve and Cañon del Quindío Natural Reserve (Wege and Long 1995). A number of other notable protected areas cover the montane forests of the EBA (many of these being the same areas protecting the Central Andean páramos) with Las Hermosas and Nevado del Huila National Parks (in Colombia), and Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve (in Ecuador) standing out as of primary importance (IUCN 1992a).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Northern Central Andes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/09/2021.