New bird species discovered in Peru

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 20:37

Washington: A new small, black-coloured bird species, with an unusual voice, has been discovered in the remote Andes Mountains of central Peru.

The bird `Junin Tapaculo` was found by Peter Hosner, a doctoral student of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas, and his team, during fieldwork in Junin in central Peru.

"We found the Junin Tapaculo in the field by its distinctive voice," Hosner said.
Peter and fellow researchers made voice recordings and collected specimens needed in all scientific species descriptions.

"Tapaculos are extremely difficult to identify, so at this point we weren`t sure if it was a new species, or if we just happened to record a rarely given vocalisation by an already described species," Hosner said.

However, upon returning to Kansas, his quest for more information on the bird yielded nothing. Museum searches, consultations with experts and searches for archival sound recordings all pointed to the idea that Hosner may have uncovered a new species.

"In one archive, I found that birders had recorded the same unusual vocalisations, but on a different road about five kilometres away from our study site," he said.

"They had tentatively identified the recordings as a different species of tapaculo - a species which occurs in the same area.

"I also sequenced DNA and compared the sequences to known species. None matched. The appearance of the specimens, their unusual song and unique DNA convinced us it was new species and I started writing up the description," Hosner said.

Hosner said the Junin Tapaculo is small and uniform blackish in colour. It is notable for its habit of sticking its tail straight up in the air.

In appearance and behaviour, the birds are similar to wrens, even though they are not closely related. They have been described as mouselike and photophobic.

"Tapaculos are recognised by ornithologists and birders as one of the most difficult bird families to observe in the field," said Hosner.

"They tend to be found near the ground in areas of thick, tangled vegetation. They`re active and almost never stop moving. Even if you can`t see the birds themselves, you can usually locate them by the movement of vegetation in their wake.

"They`re most easily seen by playing recordings of their songs to coax them out into the open. Because of this behaviour, frustrated observers have suggested that tapaculos behave more like mice than they do birds," he said.

The scientists reported the bird`s range is limited to a specific band of elevation within the Andes Mountains between about 8,000 and 10,500 feet.

The study was published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 20:37

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