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For Colombia’s endangered Santa Marta Parakeet, a jewel

Santa Marta Parakeet is one of 19 endemic bird species found in Colombia’s El Dorado Reserve. Photo by Andy Bunting.
Santa Marta Parakeet is one of 19 endemic bird species found in Colombia’s El Dorado Reserve. Photo by Andy Bunting.

Endangered Santa Marta Parakeet can be found in only one place on Earth — the ancient and isolated massif known as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in extreme northern Colombia — and is thought to be declining. Now, thanks to the conservation of a 148-acre tract known as La Cumbre Property, the bird will be better protected.

The tract has been described as a conservation jewel and is part of a site that was ranked second most important for threatened birds and amphibians in the world. The partially forested property is being restored, and its protection is critical, since it supports an important concentration of Andean wax palms (Ceroxylon ceriferum) needed by the parakeet for nesting.

The property will become part of the El Dorado Reserve, which was created in 2006, when conservation groups partnered to protect 1,600 acres of key parakeet habitat near a national park. Additional land acquisitions in 2010 and 2012 enlarged the reserve to its current 2,250 acres.

The reserve is located on the northwest slope of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, only a few miles from the Caribbean Sea. Its collection of tropical wet life zones has resulted in extraordinary diversity: 635 bird species and no fewer than 19 endemic species have been recorded, including Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, an endangered flycatcher. The reserve also provides critical habitat for more than 40 Neotropical migratory birds, including Golden-winged Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler.

Santa Marta Parakeet nests in natural tree cavities but will use artificial nest boxes. It feeds on a variety of vegetation, nectar, fruit, and seeds and typically travels in small, swift, noisy flocks that fly at or below canopy level. Once settled in a tree, the bird tends to be silent and difficult to spot.


The creation of El Dorado Reserve and the acquisition of the La Cumbre Property were supported by Fundación ProAves, ABC, World Land Trust, Conservation International, and a host of other groups and individuals.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2015 issue of BirdWatching magazine.


This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.

Read other articles by American Bird Conservancy.


Learn about visiting El Dorado Reserve.

Read about the endangered Santa Marta Parakeet (BirdLife).


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Originally Published