More than 250 bird species will benefit from a recent expansion of the Tanagers Reserve in Colombia, a country with more avian species than any other country in the world. Among the species documented at the reserve are the Gold-ringed Tanager, an endangered bird with a global population estimated to number as few as 600 adults and known to inhabit only five locations worldwide. The reserve takes its name from two endemic Tanager species found there, the Gold-ringed and the Black-and-gold.
The expansion was made possible through a purchase of 906 acres of land located on the Pacific slope of the Andes. World Land Trust, American Bird Conservancy, Fundación ProAves (our Colombian partner organization that owns and manages the property), Weeden Foundation, and Quick Response Biodiversity Fund worked together to acquire the land.
Black-and-gold Tanager by Fundación ProAves
The land contains a high percentage of forest in excellent condition and is expected to improve the stability of the area's unique Andean Chocó rainforest. Notably, the expansion adds to the contiguous area under protection, and will allow ProAves to protect additional unclaimed forested properties nearby.
“Acquiring this property is fantastic news for bird enthusiasts,” said ABC President George Fenwick. “Countless visitors have seen their first Gold-ringed Tanager along the principle birdwatching trail that crosses the edge of this property. Fortunately this reserve has nice accommodations and is sustained by the steady stream of visitors.”
Protecting Vital Habitat for a Rare Tanager
“Purchasing this land has improved connectivity between forest remnants in the sub-Andean forests of Chocó, greatly benefiting conservation of the region's extraordinary biodiversity,” said David Wright, Head of Programmes at World Land Trust. “WLT is relieved that this land is now safe from the threats of cattle ranching and commercial logging, and is pleased to have collaborated with such a strong team of committed conservationists.”
Golden-winged Warbler by Laura Erickson
The reserve protects key habitat along the western slope of the Andes, said ProAves Director Alonso Quevedo. “We know this is an important area for Colombian specialties like the two endemic Tanagers, but it's also important for migratory birds such as Golden-winged Warbler that use these forests during the winter in North America.”
In 2009, American Bird Conservancy and ProAves completed the acquisition of core properties to establish the Tanagers Reserve, the first step in stabilizing the population of the Gold-ringed Tanager. Together with World Land Trust and other partners, ABC has participated in several rounds of acquisitions over the past five years, bringing the reserve to its current size of 9,482 acres.
Tanagers and Pygmy-Owls
This area contains one of the highest concentrations of range-restricted species in the world. No fewer than 60 endemic species depend on the region's wet forests. Among the birds recorded at the Tanagers Reserve are globally threatened species such as the Choco Vireo and Gold-ringed Tanager, both Endangered; and the Cloud-forest Pygmy-owl, Black-and-gold Tanager, and Giant Antpitta, all of which are Vulnerable.
Giant Antpitta by Alfred Yan
Many beautiful hummingbirds, like the Velvet-purple Coronet and Empress Brilliant, also find shelter at the reserve.
Purchasing the land presents an opportunity to remove livestock around the southern portion of the reserve and to allow the natural regeneration of these pasture areas back to forest. Protection of the forests is also critical to the healthy functioning of the Quebrada La Bomba, a freshwater stream that flows through the property and feeds the Atrato River, an important waterway in western Colombia.