In Colombia, birders find their version of Eden

Despite his small stature, 10-year-old Juan David Camacho has big dreams: pacing through Colombia’s jungle with binoculars in tow, he aims to spot all the bird species his country offers.

It’s a mighty goal: Colombia boasts the greatest number of bird types on the planet 1,920, or 19 percent of those on the planet a veritable paradise for birders.

“We leave very early with our cameras, binoculars and tripods and we watch the birds until around noon, in silence,” says the young boy continues to scan the area to make sure he doesn’t miss a rare specimen perched on a branch in the forests near Cali.

Since his father first took him birdwatching three years ago, his love of searching for feathered friends has come to rival even his passion for football, a favored pastime in Colombia.

Once a month he journeys through the tropical forests surrounding Cali, the country’s third largest city with some 2.5 million residents.

Nestled in the heart of the southwest’s massive green expanse, the Valle del Cauca, and the Andes Mountains, the area counts 562 species of birds, “much more than anywhere in Europe”, according to expert Carlos Wagner.

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