New Population of One of the World’s Rarest Birds Discovered

An expedition in northwestern Colombia by the conservation organisation Fundacion ProAves has discovered two previously unknown colonies of one of the world’s rarest, most endangered birds – the Baudo Oropenduala (Psarocolius cassini). The expedition was funded in part by American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organisation.

Prior to this new discovery of about 70–80 birds near the Western Cordillera, fewer than a dozen birds were known to exist from a single, different location about 75 miles away. The find represents a major expansion of our knowledge of the bird’s range.

The Baudo Oropenduala is listed as endangered under IUCN-World Conservation Union criteria. The species is a large, mostly black bird with brown wings, a pointed gray and orange bill, and a long, yellow tail. The bird has a pink cheek patch that distinguishes it from similar-looking birds. These gregarious birds eat large insects and fruit. They are very vocal, producing a wide range of songs, sometimes including mimicry.

Unfortunately, the two newly discovered colonies are completely unprotected. More alarming is that deforestation in this area is accelerating and urgent conservation measures are required.

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