New Report: 122 Species of Colombian Birds Facing Extinction

(Washington, D.C., December 18, 2014) A new study, The State of the Birds in Colombia 2014, produced by a leading conservation group in Colombia, Fundación ProAves, reports that decades of deteriorating ecosystem conditions have led to 122 of the country's 1,903 bird species now facing extinction.

“Our findings are troubling because these deteriorating avian conditions are occurring in Colombia, an area viewed by many as perhaps the richest country for birds in the world,” said Alonso Quevedo, Executive Director of ProAves. “Of equal importance, these findings provide an important warning about threats to our water, air, and other natural resources and suggest that the health of our environment has clearly diminished.”

“American Bird Conservancy is proud of ProAves' work leading efforts to facilitate research, create nature reserves, and reduce threats for Colombia's most imperiled species,” said Dr. Daniel Lebbin, who oversees the International Program for American Bird Conservancy, a long-term supporter of conservation efforts by ProAves. “This report is an important milestone for Colombian bird conservation and shows clearly that many priority species require more conservation action.”

The report highlights serious threats facing birds in Colombia and provides an analysis of decades of previously collected data along with new information to identify trends in the country's most threatened bird populations. It also highlights species, sites, and habitats at greatest risk.

The gravest situation, according to the report, occurs in the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, within Sierra Nevada National Park, where uncontrolled burning and cattle grazing have extensively damaged the area's sensitive páramo ecosystem and threaten the survival of three critically endangered species: the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, Santa Marta Sabrewing, and Santa Marta Wren.

Key findings of The State of The Birds in Colombia 2014 include:

  • 122 of Colombia's 1,903 bird species are threatened with extinction.
  • About 40 percent of the birds under threat are found only in Colombia.
  • The Andean region is one of the areas of greatest environmental concern in Colombia.
  • The National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) works to protect most species under the lowest threat category (Vulnerable) while the ProAves network of private reserves works to protect most species under higher threat categories (Endangered and Critically Endangered).

The report highlights 10 critically endangered birds that have a high probability of going extinct within 10 years. Five of the 10 species are dependent on the fragile páramo ecosystem that provide vital year-round water for millions of Colombians living in the Andes. Those 10 species are:

1. Blue-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus) – Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
2. Sinu Parakeet (Pyrrhura subandina) – Cordoba
3. Santa Marta Sabrewing (Campylopterus phainopeplus) – Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
4. Antioquia Brush-finch (Atlapetes blancae) – Central Antioquia
5. Gorgeted Puffleg (Eriocnemis isabellae) – Algeria, Cauca
6. Perija Thistletail (Asthenes perijana) – Serrania del Perija
7. Santa Marta Wren (Troglodytes monticola) – Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
8. Chestnut-capped Piha (Lipaugus weberi) – Northeastern Antioquia
9. Colorful Puffleg (Eriocnemis mirabilis) – Munchique, Cauca
10. Urrao Antpitta (Grallaria fenwickorum) – Northwestern Antioquia

In addition, the report establishes an annual baseline against which birds can be monitored across Colombia to guide more efficient and effective direct conservation actions by government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and local communities.