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Endangered Baudo Oropendola discovered in Antioquia

A ProAves expedition in the Chocó of the Western Cordillera has discovered two colonies of Baudo Oropendola Psarocolius cassini with a total population of 70-80 individuals. This new location represents a crucial 120 km range extension for the IUCN Endangered species from the currently known location in Utria National Park on the Pacific coast of Colombia in Chocó Department. It also significantly expands the known population of the species from less than a dozen individuals have been documented from Utria National Park.

“American Bird Conservancy is thrilled to have helped fund this research expedition that led to the discovery of these two new colonies of this very rare bird. We now look forward to working with ProAves on measures to conserve and protect them. Their work with us on this and many other projects has advanced the cause of bird conservation enormously,” said ABC President George Fenwick.

During an ornithological exploration of western Antioquia by ProAves team Alonso Quevedo and Trevor Ellery, a number of rare Chocó endemics were discovered including two colonies of Baudo Oropendola Psarocolius cassini in the foothills of the Western Cordillera. The species was tape-recorded and photographed showing the extensive pink cheek patch on all individuals that differentiated it from Black Oropendola P. guatimozinus that should occur in this area.

Unfortunately, the area of the two colonies is privately owned and completely unprotected. More alarming is deforestation in this area is accelerating fast as security has recently been restored to the area and local people are returning to clear forest for pasturelands.

ProAves is conducting further surveys at the site with a view to establish conservation actions. Given the locations close proximity and good accessibly to Medellin, we are requesting birders to allow a 12-month period be given to establish conservation measures with local land owners before visiting the site. Thereafter we will disclose the specific location.

ABC, working in cooperation with a variety of local partners, has established or expanded 43 bird reserves in Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Many of these reserves are featured on a new website: www.conservationbirding.org. The site encourages the birding community worldwide, to visit these reserves to see the spectacular variety of birds the reserves help protect. Such visits help provide funding that will ensure the long term viability of these world class birding destinations.

Many thanks to USFWS, American Bird Conservancy, and EcoTurs for sponsoring fieldwork.

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