Friday, April 9, 2010

Santa Marta Sabrewing (Back from the brink)

Harry S. Truman was still in the White House when the Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird was last officially seen in Central America.

This exquisite-looking hummer had vanished, living only in moldy archives. That is, until March 24 when after a 60-year official absence one was caught in a mist net. Mist nets are sheer fabric affairs used by scientists and researchers to harmlessly capture small song birds so they can be fitted with leg bands and have other important data collected.

Such a net was placed at Colombia's 1,600-acre El Dorado Bird Reserve at an elevation of 6,200 feet. It was this net that snagged the hummingbird, which was banded, photographed and released unharmed, said the American Bird Conservancy.

Santa Marta hummers are said to live in the jungle forest canopy with just a few unconfirmed sightings of the specie made since 2000.

The American Bird Conservancy also points out that the El Dorado Bird Reserve - in spite of its relative small size - packs a powerful punch in being home to a number of other rare and endangered wildlife species. Among them is the globally endangered Santa Marta Parakeet, the Conservancy says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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