Undulated Antpitta showing on cue at Peruvian reserve

Interesting press-release from the American Bird Conservancy today detailing how the beautiful and very elusive Undulated Antpitta Grallaria squamigera has joined a growing list of antpitta species to become accustomed to handouts at birding lodges, in this case the Owlet Lodge in the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area – the only place in the world to see the virtually unknown Long-whiskered Owlet [for a podcast about this owlet please see /tn50-keith-betton-long-whiskered-owlet-abra-patricia/]. Quite a combination for worldlisters wanting to get one or two birds over their closest listing rivals…

 

Undulated Antpitta by Greg Homel

Undulated Antpitta by Greg Homel

 

(Washington, D.C., November 18, 2011) For the first time at any Peruvian reserve, visitors to the Owlet Lodge in the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area are now seeing an Undulated Antpitta habituated to worm feeding. The ability to bring the bird into view in this fashion is particularly exciting to bird watchers since the Undulated Antpitta is normally very secretive and extremely difficult to see in the dense vegetation it usually inhabits.

One particular bird, named Dorita, now appears every day at first light, taking worms only a few feet away from a park ranger. The ranger walks a short distance to Dorita’s territory and calls her to come by name. When she appears, he tosses worms onto the trail and Dorita consumes them without fear of the ranger or any tourists standing awed nearby. This effort constitutes the first successful habituation of any antpitta species at an ecolodge in Peru.

Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area and Conservation Concession is a protected area of over 24,000 acres of cloud forest in northern Peru managed by Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN). The reserve was established by ECOAN and American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Ecotourism contributes directly to

the reserve’s support.

In the last decade, ecolodges in Ecuador and Colombia have pioneered new methods to attract antpittas to feeding stations with worms. Normally very secretive, habituated antpittas fearlessly reveal themselves in front of birdwatchers in return for an easy meal.

At Abra Patricia, multiple species of antpittas have yet to be habituated for worm-feeding. An Endangered and endemic Ochre-fronted Antpitta has come to feed on worms once, but is not reliable yet. Sometimes White-throated Quail-Doves join in. More work is needed to habituate a Rusty-tinged Anpitta, Chestnut Antpitta, and other species that occur here. The worms come from compost created at nearby tree nurseries run by ECOAN as part of a regional reforestation project.

Peru possesses an extraordinary diversity of birds: more than 1,800 bird species have been recorded there, making Peru the country with the fourth most bird species (behind Indonesia, Colombia, and Brazil). Over 100 species are unique to Peru, with many more that barely range into neighboring countries. New species are still being discovered and described from Peru, with several descriptions awaiting publication

Birders interested in seeing Dorita the Undulated Antpitta, and other birds at Abra Patricia as well as the Marvelous Spatuletail nearby at Huembo Reserve should visit ConservationBirding.org to learn more.

 

In addition, ABC’s partners ProAves in Colombia and Fundación Jocotoco in Ecuador operate reserves with birding lodges where birders can view some of the rarest antpittas of all, including the Fenwick’s Antpitta and Jocotoco Antpitta respectively.

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Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN, www.ecoanperu.org ) is a leading Peruvian conservation organization specializing on working with local communities to establish and manage protected areas.

 

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.

 

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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I birded the world for twenty years before quitting my airline job and am now freelance. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores

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