Stunning Video Captures Beauty of Extremely Rare Santa Marta Sabrewing

March 27, 2024
Santa Marta SabrewingCampylopterus phainopeplus

After its unexpected rediscovery in 2022, researchers with American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Universidad Nacional de ColombiaSELVAProCAT Colombia, and World Parrot Trust have released new findings about one of the rarest and most poorly known bird species in the world, the Santa Marta Sabrewing. Recently posted as a preprint in bioRxiv, the study offers a glimpse into previously undocumented feeding, singing, and courtship behaviors of this Critically Endangered hummingbird species.

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“Our findings show that this amazing hummingbird may be an example of microendemism, as it seems to be restricted to a limited area within the world’s most important continental center of endemism,” said Esteban Botero-Delgadillo, lead author of the study and Director of Conservation Science with SELVA: Research for Conservation in the Neotropics. “We are excited to have the opportunity to continue studying this bird because there are still huge knowledge gaps regarding its biology and distribution. Filling these gaps will help achieve our ultimate goal of finding long-lasting conservation solutions.”

Located in the isolated Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of northern Colombia, little has been known about the species as it was lost to science for 64 years before being photographed once in 2010, only to become lost again before its rediscovery in 2022 by Yurgen Vega, one of the authors of the new study. “The moment when I first found the Santa Marta Sabrewing was very emotional, I really couldn’t believe it. The adrenaline, the thrill of that moment of rediscovery, it’s hard to fully describe just how exciting it was,” said Vega.

Just seven months after Yurgen’s rediscovery, professors Carlos Esteban Lara and Andrés M. Cuervo of Universidad Nacional de Colombia independently found other individuals in additional locations within the same area. The species is listed as a top 10 most wanted lost bird species by the Search for Lost Birds, a collaboration between ABC, Re:wild, and BirdLife International. When these birds were found again, ABC and other collaborators immediately joined to help monitor and study this extremely rare population.

“After two years of researching the Santa Marta Sabrewing, we have finally made our main results public,” said Lara. “Unveiling the Santa Marta Sabrewing’s story was not only possible through a joint effort between academia, local, and international organizations, but also by collaboration with the local Indigenous communities who coexist with the species. We are grateful for their help as our partnership and research continue to expand, to help implement conservation actions that benefit both the local people and the birds.”

The rediscovery of the Santa Marta Sabrewing has been celebrated by ornithologists around the world, including those working as part of the Search for Lost Birds. With support from ABC and partners, the research team of Botero-Delgadillo, Lara, Vega, and others are excited to continue studying the sabrewing and developing conservation actions for the species.

To continue reading this article, visit the ABC Press Release: New Research Reveals Habitat, Range, and Behavior of Recently Rediscovered Hummingbird Species.

Birds of the World is partnering with the Search for Lost Birds project to spread the news about the search and discovery of Lost Birds. Partners at ABC are leading efforts to update the Birds of the World species account for Santa Barbara Sabrewing based on the above. research

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