Rio Blanco Reserve is legendary in Neotropical birding circles. It is considered one of the best birding sites in the world, with over 350 species recorded in the 4,000ha property. The reserve protects the Blanco River watershed and its forests which range from sub-tropical and high-Andean forest through to sub-páramo and páramo habitat in its highest reaches. This massive range in altitudes delivers one of the most complete high-Andean birding experiences possible anywhere in the Americas.
With the overwhelming numbers, Rio Blanco’s main attraction isn’t just one of volume: some of its most diminutive residents have been stealing the show for over 10 years. Thanks to a well-established feeding programme, each morning it is possible to spot up to four species of the skulking antpitta family, among them the rare brown-banded antpitta (endemic) and bicoloured antpitta (near-endemic) both of which are mega-ticks for any serious birder. The tiny slate-crowned antpitta and common chestnut-crowned antpitta can also be seen feeding along with various brush-finches and fruit eaters. To witness one of the world’s most elusive bird families hop out of the undergrowth as they hear the footsteps of impending worm-heaven is a joy to behold and one of the longest-lasting memories for any birder visiting Colombia.
Rio Blanco not only features large, rainbow-like mixed feeding flocks but also some of the rarest birds found in the high Andes, such as masked saltator, rusty-faced parrot, ocellated tapaculo, red-hooded tanager and the endemic chestnut wood-quail. The place is perfect for serious birders and those wanting a nature experience that’s not too far from town – Rio Blanco lies just 40 minutes away from the city of Manizales.