New Protection for Historic Site and Colombian Wildlife

El Dorado
El Dorado
El Dorado

The El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Colombia, home to one of the planet’s highest concentrations of endemic and globally threatened birds and amphibians, will grow thanks to land purchases thanks to Rainforest Trust supporters.


The newly acquired property, called “Hacienda Vista Nieve” totals over 250 acres of montane forest reaching an elevation of almost 8,000 feet and will be managed by our Colombian partner Fundación ProAves.


Hacienda Vista Nieve was established in 1917 by the American Melbourne “Meb” Carriker who was one of South America’s great naturalists of the early 20th century and Colombia’s greatest ornithologist having lived and travelled in Colombia from 1911 until his death in 1965. Meb raised his family of five children on the Vista Nieve coffee farm until 1927. His eldest son, Dr. Melbourne “Mel” R. Carriker (1915-2007), became a distinguished marine biologist and Professor of Marine Studies at the College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, and wrote the popular book Vista Nieve: The Remarkable True Adventures of an Early Twentieth Century Naturalist and His Family in Colombia, South America recounting his experiences on this remarkable property. Given the expensive ornithological and natural history studies of Vista Nieve for 100 years, the acquisition and protection of its forest has great scientific value.


In memory of the tremendous contribution to Neotropical ornithology by Meb Carriker and his family, the new 250 acre acquisition within the El Dorado reserve will be named the “Carriker Sanctuary.”


The El Dorado Reserve now protects a total of 1,928 acres of one of the most important and under-protected ecosystems on the planet. It is home to an extraordinary bird diversity totaling 300 species, including three–-Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush Tyrant and Santa Marta Sabrewing–that are Endangered under IUCN-World Conservation Union criteria and have their entire or major stronghold population here. The presence of these species establishes the reserve as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site, among the world’s highest priorities for conservation. Other threatened birds found in the reserve include: Black-fronted Wood Quail, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Blossomcrown, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Antpitta, Cerulean Warbler, and Santa Marta Warbler.


The El Dorado reserve lies within 14,000 acres of subtropical to montane forest and pasturelands on an isolated ridge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta massif with only one-eighth of the area being currently protected. This narrow exposed ridge is a major catchment for humid onshore winds in an otherwise dry to arid region and feeds two major watersheds that supply over 800,000 people in the Caribbean coastal city and resorts of Santa Marta.


This Reserve, which is owned and managed by Fundación ProAves, was established in 2005. The reserve has excellent ecotourism facilities and an Eco-Lodge. To visit this spectacular reserve contact EcoTurs Colombia or email