Hi everybody -
For your info, the media release below from the American Bird Conservancy
on 22 August.
22 August 2002
Dateline: Washington, D.C.
"Missing" South American Parrot Rediscovered After 90 years, Photographed
For the First Time
This July 28, researchers with ProAves Colombia, supported by American Bird
Conservancy (ABC) and the World Parrot Trust (WPT), photographed one of the
world's rarest parrots in the high Andes of Colombia confirming the
survival of this long lost species. Colombian ornithologists Jorge
Velasquez and Alonso Quevedo found a flock of 14 Fuertes's Parrots in a
remote area of the central Andes close to Los Nevados National Park.
Ninety one years ago, in August 1911, two bird collectors from the American
Museum of Natural History in New York - Leo Miller and Arthur Allen -
visited the same volcano as Jorge and Alonso to explore its birdlife. They
spent several months in the desolate high Andean wilderness, and discovered
a "distinct and interesting" parrot that was previously unknown to science.
The birds were described the following year and named Hapalopsittaca
fuertesi, or Fuertes's Parrot, also called the 'Multicolored Parrot' by
Between the original discovery and this July, the continued existence of
this intriguing species has remained a mystery with no confirmed sightings
of the bird. Last year, ProAves Colombia, a Colombian bird conservation
group, decided to mount a determined search for the species to see whether
it could be located and protected. The group was supported by Dr. Paul
Salaman, an expert in Colombian ornithology from the British Museum of
Natural History, and received initial funding from American Bird
Conservancy and the World Parrot Trust. The project, which also studied
another rare Andean parrot, the Rusty-faced Parrot, has subsequently
attracted additional support from Fundación Natura, Conservation
International, The British Natural History Museum, and Instituto de
Ciencias Naturales - Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and recently won the
Gold Award at this year's prestigious British Petroleum International
To date, just 14 Fuertes's Parrots, including 3 juveniles, have been
discovered, surviving in just a few dozen hectares of forest. The critical
requirements of the species appear to be tall mature trees, where they feed
on berries amongst the epiphyte-laden canopy branches and find vital
nesting cavities. Jorge Velasquez has stated "my team's task has only just
begun, as we must commence the vital job of protecting the species with
great urgency." Now the researchers know the specific habitat preferences
and diet of the parrot, it is hoped that they can locate and protect other
surviving flocks in the region.
"From our experience with the critically endangered Yellow-eared Parrot,
another species restricted to the Colombian Andes, we know that
conservation efforts for these rare birds can succeed. We now need to gain
the support of as many people as possible to help fund and implement a
comprehensive conservation effort" said Mike Parr, Vice President for
Program Development at American Bird Conservancy, and author of Parrots: A
Guide to Parrots of the World.
"The re-discovery of the long-lost Fuertes's Parrot is a great achievement
for ornithologists and conservationists in Colombia, and underscores the
fact that so many parrots linger on the brink of extinction. ProAves'
accomplishment will inspire desperately needed conservation work in the
Andes, promoting the recovery of this parrot and many other species unique
to the region," said James Gilardi, Ph.D., Director of the World Parrot Trust.
For reproducible photographs visit
For more information, or to express interest to help, please contact Mike
Parr, ABC, 202 452 1535 ext. 204, or James Gilardi, WPT, 530 756 6340.
415 Riversdale Road
Hawthorn East 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)