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=""> <strike> <strong>



Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should the ban on South Africa’s horn trade be lifted? » [1918 Views]
  2. 120,000 dead: half of the world’s saiga die in less than a month » [1166 Views]
  3. Swifts migrate from Beijing to southern Africa without landing » [930 Views]
  4. Vicious murdering bully chosen as Britain’s national bird » [881 Views]
  5. Murder Most Foul in the Faroes » [838 Views]
  6. Butterfly wings inspire cosmetics and bomb detectors » [790 Views]
  7. Earth enters new extinction phase » [719 Views]
  8. Yellow-breasted bunting population collapses across Eurasia » [706 Views]
  9. Eastern Cougar extinct, no longer needs protection, says US conservation agency » [645 Views]
  10. Poll: Should stricter sonar controls be imposed on the US navy? » [645 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of giraffes be banned? » [11989 Views]
  2. » POLL: Should the ban on fox hunting be relaxed in the UK? [10683 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the Faroe Islands’ whale slaughter be allowed to continue? » [7469 Views]
  4. POLL: Should bear hunting be banned in the US? » [4093 Views]
  5. Komodo and its Dragons » [3947 Views]
  6. POLL: Should lion canned hunting be banned in South Africa? » [3888 Views]
  7. Poll: Should hunting of black bears in Florida be allowed? » [3249 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the slaughter of wolves in British Columbia be banned? » [2987 Views]
  9. Petition: Stop Lion Canned Hunting in South Africa – Shocking Video » [2764 Views]
  10. POLL: Should the wolf hunting contest in Idaho be stopped? » [2717 Views]