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.

Share on social media:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should Finland’s 235 wolves be culled? [1652 Views]
  2. POLL: Should all tiger farms in China be closed down? [1626 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the Wildlife Trust’s campaign to slaughter grey squirrels be stopped? [1614 Views]
  4. POLL: Should Trump disband USDA Wildlife “Killing” Services? [1260 Views]
  5. POLL: Should Alaska’s refuges be opened for hunting again? [1182 Views]
  6. POLL: Should more bear hunting licenses be issued? [1154 Views]
  7. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [917 Views]
  8. POLL: Should Australia’s feral cats be culled? [841 Views]
  9. Why do birds sing? [639 Views]
  10. An elk’s-eye view of migrating through Yellowstone [576 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [42059 Views]
  2. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16807 Views]
  3. POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [13865 Views]
  4. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [12064 Views]
  5. POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11117 Views]
  6. POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8614 Views]
  7. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8309 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the annual Canadian seal hunt be banned? [8089 Views]
  9. POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8049 Views]
  10. POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7417 Views]