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Colombia Celebrates over 1,900 Bird Species

Bogotá, Colombia 11 December 2013 (Fundación ProAves). A new scientific publication has confirmed that the official number of birds registered in the country of Colombia has for the first time exceeded 1,900 species. This represents a new world record and firmly establishes Colombia as the world’s most biodiverse country.

This finding was published in the 19th issue of the scientific journal Conservación Colombiana. This year, a sixth annual review was published through a collaboration of ornithological experts from Colombia, the USA and Europe, verifying the number of species registered within Colombia. A total of 1,903 species have now been recorded inside Colombia.

A vagrant Kelp Gull Larus dominicanusrecorded in Guajira on 25 January 2013 is officially the 1900th species for Colombia. This finding was made on a birdwatching tour organized by Ecoturs, Fundación ProAves’ ecotourism partner, and is also published in Conservación Colombiana 19.After 15 years of compilation, fieldwork and detailed revisions by the authors, these publications reveal Colombia to host almost one fifth (18%) of the 10,507 birds (source: IOC) known on earth in just 0.8% of its land surface. In an area the size of Texas and California, Colombia has registered almost twice as many bird species as the entire continental United States and Canada (with 976 species) (source: ABA)

Colombia leads Peru in second place with 1838 species and Brazil in third place with 1798 species. Using another measure, the number of species “confirmed” with photograph and specimen records, Colombia scores 1850 bird species (exceeding Peru’s total of 1762 and Brazil’s of 1771).The checklist to the Birds of Colombia and updates have been annually published by Fundación ProAves in Conservación Colombiana since 2007, while the first edition was published in 2001.

Significant improvements in the security situation in large parts of Colombia in recent years have led to a wave of tours by birdwatchers experiencing Colombia’s stunning bird diversity” said checklist coauthor, Alonso Quevedo. “With this increase in ecotourism and continuing explorations of remote regions by Colombian and other ornithologists, the Colombian bird list will doubtless grow further, highlighting the region as key area for bird conservation.”

Although the Colombian list has increased, largely through ornithological study and findings of rare vagrant species, the situation for the best habitats for birds in Colombia – its primary forests – is less secure.  With the return of security to many parts of rural Colombia and economic development, threats to bird life in Colombia have been mounting, forests are being cleared at accelerating rates and bird populations have been reduced.  The greatest threats involve clearance of lowland tropical forest for African oil palm plantations for ethanol production (biofuels) in the western lowland forests of Chocó and Amazonian regions, as well as deforestation of Andean forests for agriculture.

Worryingly, 206 bird species in Colombia are at risk of extinction, including 59 endemic bird species restricted to the country” noted Dr. Paul Salaman, director of Rainforest Trustand another coauthor of the Checklist since 2001. “Fortunately, the Colombian bird conservation group, Fundación ProAves, has been working towards the protection of the most critically endangered birds in recent years with a network of 24 bird reserves established across the country to protect over 1,300 bird species.”

Further information and photographs for public use

 

Larus dominicanus

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus is the 1900th species for Colombia. Photo credits: Jesse Fagan

 

Oxypogon stubeli by W.P. Murdoch, Jr.

Buffy Helmetcrest Oxypogon stubelii is reclassified as a valid species that is endemic to Colombia.

Photo credits: W.P. Murdoch, Jr.

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