Migratory raptors face a difficult journey yr after yr. Most of those birds nest within the continent’s north and start their migration earlier than winter, spending that point in hotter locations in Central and South America. Colombia is a part of this pure phenomenon as a migration route, a strategic stopover and resting place for raptors, and whilst a wintering web site. These birds go to us on two events: once they head south between September and November (fall migration) and return north between mid-February and April (spring migration).

Migrating by way of fall, migratory raptors utilizing the land hall enter South America by way of northwestern Colombia, crossing over the Darien area that connects the Isthmus of Panama with Colombia. Buteos proceed primarily by way of the Andes and its valleys, the place some people start to remain, selecting wintering websites from Colombia. In distinction, the red-headed guans (Cathartes aura) proceed their migration in the direction of the plains of Venezuela and Colombia, adopted by some people of different raptor species. The remaining proceed southward in a broad-fronted migration by way of the inter-Andean valleys, canyons, and mountain ridges. Migration has been reported in areas as little as the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys and in a lot increased areas akin to Bogotá, at 8,660 toes above sea degree. The migration of Buteo swainsoni reaches Argentina to spend the winter in these areas.

Searching is a big threat

Sadly, Colombia is among the few locations the place raptors’ searching persists, turning into a further problem. Raptors face a number of risks on their migratory journey, together with habitat loss and air pollution. Probably the most affected species are those who kind massive teams which can be very seen to hunters. Amongst them are the broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus) and Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni), generally referred to as the grasshopper hawk—or in sure Spanish-speaking international locations, the “lent hawk.” They’re hunted primarily for consumption, because the native inhabitants have a false perception that they’ve therapeutic properties, and that additionally hastens the passing of Lent. Conservation efforts are particularly wanted in Tolima and Cundinamarca, the place poachers declare the lives of those creatures as they relaxation from their lengthy journey in the course of the night time.

The conservation course of begins with understanding and recognizing what ought to be protected. Nonetheless, there’s little info on these birds and their migratory actions inside Colombia. Telemetry research have helped and given us a basic concept of the routes of among the species. And the analysis carried out in latest a long time, primarily within the northwest of the nation, laid the groundwork to start understanding the phenomenon regionally, figuring out the significance of Colombia (Bechard et al. 1999, Colorado et al. 2006, CAR 2008, Bayly et al. 2014). Nonetheless, extra analysis is required to grasp how migration works in a rustic with such explicit orographic and climatic traits as ours.

The Raptor Migration Affiliation of North America (HMANA) has a community of depend websites the place migration passage is monitored all through the Americas. That is of nice assist in selling scientific examine, enjoyment, and appreciation of raptor migration. Between North and Central America, there are greater than 300 counting websites. However South America solely has three energetic websites, two in Colombia and one in Venezuela.

Since 2020, TROPICOS Colombia has developed academic actions within the departments affected by unlawful searching. To raised perceive migration, this NGO conducts explorations in numerous areas of the nation, together with the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Cundinamarca, and Tolima, throughout the framework of the challenge “Conservation of migratory raptors – Colombia.”

Group assist, what counts most

A depend web site was established southwest of town of Ibagué for spring migration. We known as it “Conteo de Rapaces Tolima” (Tolima Raptor Depend), and monitoring started with nice expectation: for the primary time, data could be taken within the space. Greater than 400,000 people of migratory raptors of ten totally different species had been noticed, exceeding expectations. These spectacular outcomes have established a baseline for future analysis and conservation efforts on regional migratory raptors. 

Final April, the figures reached greater than 700 thousand people, positioning the Tolima depend web site because the fourth most necessary web site within the Neotropical area based mostly on revealed knowledge (Bildstein 2006).

The rise over earlier years doesn’t essentially point out that the variety of raptors is rising. It’s unsure whether or not the interannual variation is often important, so additional research are wanted. With every season, we be taught somewhat extra, and it has been corroborated that the interior routes differ between autumn and spring within the middle of the nation. This was confirmed due to the second counting web site inaugurated in 2022 within the Magdalena River valley in Tolima. On the similar time, extra questions come up, and we nonetheless have a lot to find about their migratory journeys.

Because the nation with essentially the most chicken species on the planet, Colombia could possibly be an instance of conservation and pay attention to the nice privilege of witnessing this pure spectacle. A coordinated effort between environmental organizations, governmental businesses, and different native actors can provide better scope to actions towards searching, which is an unlawful and criminalized exercise within the nation. 

Group participation and engagement are basic, and training is vital to altering the native notion of those birds, which know no borders and assist preserve the steadiness of ecosystems all through the continent.


Quite a few organizations have supported the challenge in Colombia. Additionally, many beneficiant donors have helped, involved about conserving these magnificent birds. I need to spotlight the fixed and unconditional assist of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, fulfilling its tireless mission to advertise raptor conservation worldwide.



Bayly, N. J., Cárdenas, L. O., Rubio, M. & C. Gomez. 2014. Migration of raptors, swallows and different diurnal migratory birds by way of the Darien of Colombia. Ornitol. Neotrop. 25: 63-71.

Bechard, C., S. Kaltenecher, C. Marquez, G. Colorado, & & A. Chestnut. 1999. Migration of raptors in Alto de Minas, Colombia 1997-1998. Boletin SAO X (18-19): 29-41.

Bildstein, Keith L. 2006. Migrating raptors of the world: their ecology and conservation. Cornell College Press. Ithaca, New York. 320 p.

CAR 2008. Group of Diurnal Birds of Prey (Falconiformes) as bioindicators of the High quality and State of the Cerro del Tabor Ecosystems. Report submitted by Cesar Márquez to the Corporación Autónoma Regional de Cundinamarca.

Colorado, G. J., M. J. Bechard, C. Marquez, & A. Chestnut. 2006. Raptor migration within the Cauca River valley of northern Colombia. Ornitol. Neotrop. 17: 161-172.