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New bird discovered in Colombia—and released alive

Researchers have discovered a new species of antpitta in the montane cloud forests of the Colibri del Sol Bird Reserve in western Colombia. A thrush-like bird, the new cinnamon and gray species was, according to a press release by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), “captured, banded, measured, photographed, sampled for DNA, and then released alive back into the wild”.

This is one of only a few incidences in which a new species has been described without ‘collecting’ an individual (i.e. killing) to provide a model of the species in a museum. The new bird has been named Fenwick’s antpitta (Grallaria fenwickorum) after the President of ABC, George Fenwick, and his family.

Fenwick’s Antpitta. Photo by: ©Fundacion ProAves

“I am deeply honored by this naming. I know it reflects in equal parts on the contributions of both my family and the ABC organization, both of which have sought to further bird conservation efforts in Colombia,” Dr. George Fenwick said in a press release. “I am especially pleased that this effort was achieved without the loss of the bird’s life. Rare and special birds such as this should not have to be sacrificed to this process.”

Colibri del Sol Bird Reserve, founded only five years ago, is managed by Fundación ProAves, a partner of ABC. The reserve is also home to the Critically Endangered (listed by the IUCN Red List) Dusky Starfrontlet that until 2004 hadn’t been sighted for 50 years. Its rediscovery prompted the creation of the reserve.

Researchers have proposed that Fenwick’s antpitta also be listed as Critically Endangered given that its population appears very small and much of the bird’s original habitat has been cleared for pasturelands.

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