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Beautiful new bird discovered in Peruvian cloud forest

Sira barbet (Capito fitzpatricki). Photo by: Michael G. Harvey.
Sira barbet (Capito fitzpatricki). Photo by: Michael G. Harvey.

Four years ago in a remote cloud forest in Peru’s Cerros del Sira mountain range, three recently graduated students from Cornell University discovered a never-before-recorded species of black, white, and scarlet bird. Now described in the scientific journal, The Auk, the bird has been dubbed the Sira barbet (Capito fitzpatricki).

Although closely related to the scarlet-banded barbet (Capito wallacei), genetic studies confirmed that the Sira barbet is indeed a unique and new species.

“Capito fitzpatricki is presently known from three localities within a 30-kilometer section of the Cerros del Sira, an outlying ridge of the Andes in central Peru,” the scientists write.

A portion of the species known habitat lies in the Sira Communal Reserve, however the new species is threatened by mining, logging, and oil exploitation according to the scientists. In addition climate change may pose a threat over the long-term.

The scientists believe the Sira barbet may only be found in a habitat of 300 square kilometers, leading them to conclude that, “this species could be considered endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.” Although they add that further evaluation is needed.

The scientists named the species after John W. Fitzpatrick, the head of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

CITATION: Glenn F. Seeholzer, Benjamin M. Winger, Michael G. Harvey, Daniel Cáceres A. and Jason D. Weckstein. A new species of barbet (Capitonidae: Capito) from the Cerros del Sira, Ucayali, Peru. The Auk , Vol. 129, No. 3 (July 2012), pp. 551-559.

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