Birding Without Borders

Day 96: Sugar Highs

Finding new birds in Colombia gets tougher and tougher.

April 6, 2015, Cali, Colombia — The first bird I saw today was a Choco Poorwill which Chris, Jose Luna, Juan Jose, and I spotlighted outside of San Cipriano before dawn. High fives all around! Then we nailed a pair of Five-colored Barbets, a Band-tailed Barbthroat, and some Chestnut-headed Oropendolas. Four new birds before breakfast (which, today, was four Oreos, a bag of lime-flavored potato chips, a Coke, a tin of Vienna sausage, and a bag of raisins and salted peanuts). 

The rest of the morning was sloooooooow. The sun came out, the sweat pores opened up, and the birds disappeared with our sugar high, although I did get good views of a Broad-billed Motmot and a Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant (the world’s smallest bird next to hummingbirds). We dragged back into the San Cipriano pueblo, took a cold shower, and sat for a plate of patacones and rice to rejuvenate the soul. Then La Bruja whisked us back out to the highway, and we spent the afternoon sitting in heavy truck traffic on the way back to Cali. The only real highlight en route was a quick stop at a restaurant called La Cabana, where Juan Jose ordered a round of hot chocolate and cheese—you crumble the cheese into the chocolate and wait for it to get melty before slurping down the cheesy-chocolaty mixture (weird, but good).

As we snacked, Juan Jose related that a little over a decade ago, 30 people were kidnapped simultaneously from this restaurant. Then he told us a bit more about his own kidnapping (13 years ago) and of his father’s (a few years before that). It’s one thing to read about these things in the news, but quite another to hear such stories firsthand, and I’ve heard a lot of them in the past couple of weeks. Anyway, times have changed: Today, at least officially, not a single person is being held in captivity in Colombia and this restaurant is known as a good place to find Blue-headed Sapphires at the hummer feeders.

New birds today: 7

Year list: 1945

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