Physical Landscapes flee into the forest. No doubt the spider monkey, the Andean woolly monkey (a threatened species), the yellow-eared parrot (actually on the verge of extinction), and many more animals may be watching you from the tree canopy. If you keep climb- ing, you will come to the páramo, or alpine grassland, which is home to an unique hummingbird—the bearded helmetcrest— that bird-watchers from throughout the world come to see because it only lives in this region. Unlike most birds, the hel- metcrest builds nests in cavities in bare rock because there are no trees in the páramo. Because there are almost no flowering plants, the helmetcrest depends on insects rather than nectar for much of its diet. It has a short bill and somewhat larger legs and feet than other hummingbirds, and it often hunts insects while walking on the ground. One of the most unique assemblages of animals in South America is in the Chocó region. The tall peaks of the northern Andes mark the area’s eastern boundary and act as a formi- dable barrier between the Chocó and animals that attempt to migrate into it. For this reason, the species found here are quite different from those found on the other side of the mountains. Many are endemic species, meaning they originated in the Chocó region. Indeed, the Chocó is famous for its large num- ber of endemic species of fauna, including the Lita woodpecker and plumbeous forest-falcon. Two other noteworthy birds found in the area are the harpy and black-and-white crowned eagle, both of which are increasingly rare in many tropical areas of the Western Hemisphere. Baird’s tapir is not an endemic species, but it is one of the largest of the hundreds of mam- mal species in the region. It grows to be more than 6 feet (2 meters) long and weighs between 525 and 880 pounds (240 to 400 kilograms). Threats to Natural Habitats and Wildlife In an attempt to preserve as much of its natural endowment as possible, Colombia has created more than 40 national parks, sanctuaries, and natural reserves. Los Katíos National Park, a
Published on Feb 8, 2010
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