Cali: The City of Birds

At the beginning of the 20th century, Frank M. Chapman, curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History, conducted a series of expeditions in Colombian territory to document the country’s birdlife. “Colombia was selected as our first field of operations because […] it possesses a greater variety of animal life than any other part of South America of similar extent,” he wrote. Chapman and his colleagues travelled from Buenaventura to Santiago de Cali, dubbed “the City of Birds”. They settled the base camp in Cali, the capital of the Valle del Cauca, due to its strategic location and abundant biodiversity. Even today Cali is surrounded by wildlife – in fact, it is the Colombian city with the greatest bird diversity with 561 reported species. This is 25% more than in the rest of Colombia, the country that has the most bird species on earth. This is a positive environmental indicator, and also good for tourism: the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism expects the arrival of about 15,000 bird watchers a year, and, as Chapman already stated, the best place to observe birds is in Cali and its surroundings.