As Guerrillas Flee, Bird Watchers Flock to Colombia

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2009 12:10 PM CDT
A police officer talks to children before the inauguration of a police station in La Uribe, a former stronghold of the Colombian rebel group FARC, March 12, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Colombia’s guerrilla forces have suffered major setbacks in recent years, and bird lovers are singing a happy tune, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last month saw the return of Steven Hilty, the man who literally wrote the book on Colombian bird watching, after a more than 20-year absence. Another bird watching group is on pace to conduct 20 tours this year, up from five in 2006.

The US State Department still has a travel warning on Colombia, but acknowledges that kidnappings have “diminished significantly” thanks to President Alvaro Uribe’s offensive. That’s made it safe enough for many die-hards. “My husband isn’t thrilled I’m here,” said a woman on Hilty’s tour, but the prospect of spotting birds not seen in years spurred her on.