Hello, Goodbye to New Species of Hummingbird

A new species of hummingbird could soon be chirping "Bye Bye, Birdie" because of slash-and-burn-happy coca farmers.

The Gorgeted Puffleg (Eriocnemis isabellae), which displays a plumage of violet blue and iridescent green on its throat, has been discovered living in the cloud forests of southwestern Colombia, according to researchers.

Like the rest of its Puffleg brethern, it has "little cotton balls above [its] legs," said Luis Mazariegos-Hurtado, who has spent 30 years documenting hummingbirds and founded the Colombian Hummingbird Conservancy, in an interview with the AP.The bird's tiny territory in the Cauca province is under siege, however, by the environmentally destructive drugs industry, which relies on slashing and burning vast swathes of land for growing illegal crops such as coca, otherwise known as the raw material in cocaine. Because of coca-growing and other agriculture, 1,235 acres of forest surrounding the Gorgeted Puffleg's habitat are devastated each year, according to the Hummingbird Conservancy.

Ornithologists want the Colombian government to designate 494,000 acres of land in the area as a natural reserve; to add to their mounting concern, the bird has only been spied on one mountain ridge, which makes it exceptionally rare even by rare-bird standards. :: AP :: The Hummingbird Conservancy

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Tags: Birds | Colombia