Discovering Colombia’s rare flora and fauna

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Photo by Frank Gardner (BBC).

For full article and spectacular photos, see Frank Gardner’s “Discovering Colombia’s rare flora and fauna” at BBC News. He explores Colombia’s hummingbird species, insects, strange fruit, and flowers found in Colombia’s tropical rainforests. Gardner writes:

Colombia’s tropical rainforests have been disappearing fast. [. . .] Earlier this year, and just before the coronavirus lockdown, I joined an expedition of top botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London into previously unexplored rainforest in the Serrania de las Quinchas, as they searched for rare plant species, some of them unknown to science.

Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world after Brazil. It also has more bird species – 1,958 at latest count – than any other country.

If there were a game of Top Trumps for hummingbirds then Colombia would win hands-down. With its mountains, jungles and rainforests, this large South American nation boasts some of the world’s most colourful flora and fauna. Here is a small sample of what we saw.

One of the most aggressive and territorial of Colombia’s 165 hummingbird species, it is known to attack other birds and insects that it sees as intruders. At night it goes into a resting torpor to replenish its high levels of energy.

[. . .] This is one of 18 different hummingbirds to be found high in the hills above Bogota at the Observatorio de Colibríes, where visitors can watch them flitting through the branches while eating breakfasts of mango, papaya and strong Colombian coffee. [. . .]

One of the most attractive and approachable birds of Colombia’s high montane forests at about 3,000m altitude. Found all the way down the western spine of South America its Latin name means “flame-coloured”. This one was perched near a waterfall, making short forays into the spray of water to catch insects while calling loudly. [. . .]

The Kew Gardens scientists were thrilled to come across this exotic flower growing on a river bank in the central Magdalena Valley. The trees that produce it grow up to 12m tall and their trunks are often infested with ants. Locals say the flower has medicinal properties and one of the big hopes for sparing what’s left of Colombia’s tropical forests is that their plants may contain vital medicinal remedies. [. . .]

[Photo above by Frank Gardner: Rufous-tailed hummingbird, Amazilia tazacatl, feeding on Mexican sunflower, also known as “tree marigold”.]

For full article and spectacular photos, see https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52948635