The pandemic makes it difficult to feed birds in the "paradise of hummingbirds"



Despite the fact that Colombia was chosen last week as the winner of the World Bird Watching Championship, the coronavirus pandemic is making it difficult for birds to feed on the Alejandría farm, located on the outskirts of Cali and known as "The paradise of hummingbirds "

Raúl Horacio Nieto, an Argentine living in Colombia and one of the owners of the Finca Alejandría, assured that there they feed dozens of birds with the income they receive from tourism, which have been at zero for almost two months when the mandatory quarantine began to combat COVID-19.

"Finca Alejandría has 60 feeders to feed 32 species of hummingbirds, who drink an average of 380 liters of water daily and eat 750 kilos of sugar per month. The birds -which are birds like tangaras, tucanetas or quetzales- eat bananas and have an average of 200 or 250 bananas a day now that we are in the low season, "Nieto told Efe.

He added: "In high season they reach 400 bananas a day (...) They are between 12 and 14 monthly packages of sugar at 140,000 pesos (about $ 35) each; they are between eight and 14 boxes of bananas every five days, at 20,000 pesos (about five dollars) each, all that came from what was the income of tourists. "

A LOWER COUNT

Colombia won the World Bird Watching Championship, also known as Global Big Day, for the fourth consecutive year, registering 1,440 species, almost 300 more than Peru that ranked second.

It is also one of the preferred destinations for sighting, since it has more than 197 species of migratory and 79 endemic birds, which places it at the first place in the world ranking of biodiversity in this regard.

"When there was no pandemic and you could go out and do a good job of counting birds, in total Colombia has a record of 1,969 species, it is the number one country in the world in bird registration. Finca Alejandría registered 94 species in this area Nieto said.

However, two years ago the Caleña farm had a higher record because "there were more people registering birds. This year we were two people registering" because of the pandemic.

PLAN TO RETURN

The Alejandría estate, which has been working for 14 years in ecotourism and bird watching, is considered, according to its owner, "as one of the sites with the highest bird registration in the world."

"That is why it already has a reputation where people want to come see us, to know us, to know what it is about, they want to come and see hummingbirds. We are very close to them, we can see their colors, their shapes, sizes, it is a wonderful place, "said Nieto.

There is a record of 347 species of which 32 are hummingbirds, which attract the attention of thousands of "documentary filmmakers, professionals, biologists for taking pictures, filming work, documentaries and all that kind of thing" each year.

Nieto considers that the property, due to the type of tourism it offers, will be one of the first businesses to reopen in the sector and valued "the security protocol" they have to achieve it.

"Here people will be able to come with prior reservation because a certain number of people are going to be allowed and we do not want a crowd, we know that there is a limit of people at a certain distance. When the vehicles arrive they are disinfected, the tourist is disinfected" he added.

A possible reopening will be key because, in Nieto's opinion, the bird sighting helps "on the psychological side" to citizens who have been in quarantine since March 25.

"These places are very therapeutic and we believe that the collaboration of these sites, managed with all the security protocols, is really necessary for the rehabilitation of people," he concluded.

Colombia reached 14,939 cases of COVID-19 and there are already 562 fatalities from the pandemic.

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