Quantcast
Mar 022012
 

An extremely rare and incredibly reclusive bird—the Junin Rail—was seen and photographed near a high Andean Lake this past Sunday, February 26, 2012.

Junin Rail (Laterallus tuerosi) – Image by Mike Parr

“More people have climbed Everest and visited space than have seen this amazing creature. For me, this event was equivalent in ornithological terms to finding the Holy Grail. Frankly, I never expected to see this bird in my lifetime, let alone photograph it. This gives us real hope that this endangered species can continue to survive,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

The Junin Rail is notable for its bright red eyes and cryptically-patterned plumage. It relies on hiding motionless in dense reeds to avoid predators and so can be very difficult to see, even at close quarters. It is similar to the North American Black Rail (with which it is sometimes considered conspecific), but has a different call and subtly different plumage characters. The Black Rail itself is often considered North America’s most difficult bird to find.

The bird was found by Cesar Donato Zevallos Bashualdo a conservationist who works with the Peruvian conservation group ECOAN, then hand-captured by leading British ornithologist and bird bander Stephen Rumsey. It was photographed by ABC’s Mike Parr. The ECOAN/ABC team is working in the Junin region to develop a conservation program with local community members.

The bird was first attracted using a tape playback of its call by the ECOAN team, then isolated in a small patch of reeds and very carefully captured by hand, before being photographed and released unharmed back to its marshland habitat just minutes later. Other participating members of ECOAN who witnessed the event were Alan Chamorro, and ECOAN President, Constantino Aucca Chutas.

The rail is classified as Endangered and occurs only in the dense marsh grasses surrounding Lake Junin at an altitude of 13,500 feet in the Peruvian Andes. The lake also provides habitat for another Critically Endangered bird endemic to the area—the Junin Grebe.

Populations of both the grebe and rail are threatened by the cutting and burning of reeds to create grazing areas for cattle; pollution from metal mining run-off; and the operation of a hydroelectric dam, which can cause water levels to fluctuate.

Invasive trout are also likely reducing populations of native fish upon which the grebes feed. Despite the threats, the lake is still a spectacular place that hosts globally important populations of wintering migratory shorebirds that nest in North America such as Pectoral and Baird’s Sandpipers, Wilson’s Phalaropes, Lesser Yellowlegs, and American Golden-Plovers.

The lake also provides nesting habitat for Chilean Flamingoes and provides foraging opportunities for thousands of waterbirds. Another Endangered species, the Lake Junin Giant Frog, can also be found there. The lake has been has been classified as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, and conservation efforts there urgently need additional support.

This article was written and published by American Bird Conservancy.


Leave a Comment

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should the wolf cull in Ontario be stopped? – [4632 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the Alberta coyote hunting contest be stopped? – [3834 Views]
  3. » POLL: Should the use of animals in circuses be stopped? [2281 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the wolf be delisted in more American states? – [2261 Views]
  5. » POLL: Should the wolf cull in Finland be stopped? [2070 Views]
  6. POLL: Should African countries be allowed to sell elephants to China? – [1547 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the trapping of bobcats and beavers be banned? – [1501 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the National Wildlife Crime Unit be properly funded by the British Government? – [1417 Views]
  9. POLL: Should the ivory trade in South Africa be legalized? – [867 Views]
  10. POLL: Should Yahoo be sanctioned for aiding the slaughter of elephants? – [808 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. POLL: Should lion canned hunting be banned? » [14291 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of giraffes be banned? » [11225 Views]
  3. POLL: Should hare coursing be banned in Ireland? » [9906 Views]
  4. POLL: Should wildlife hunting contests be permitted in Idaho? » [8247 Views]
  5. POLL: Should the Faroe Islands’ whale slaughter be allowed to continue? » [8111 Views]
  6. POLL: Should Africa’s poachers be shot on sight? » [6724 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the slaughter of wolves in British Columbia be banned? » [5985 Views]
  8. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? | [5394 Views]
  9. POLL: Should whales and dolphins be kept in captivity for our entertainment? » [5278 Views]
  10. POLL: Should the wolf cull in Ontario be stopped? – [4632 Views]