Wednesday 15 October 2008.
Another new bird subspecies for science has been described from beside ProAves’ Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve The Yariguíes Slate-crowned Antpitta was discovered during explorations of Serranía de los Yariguíes, in Colombia, by ProAves. It is a subspecies of the Slate-crowned Antpitta, and has been given the scientific name Grallaricula nana hallsi. The new subspecies was discovered and described during biological explorations of the Yariguíes mountains by ProAves. The description was formally published last week in the scientific journal Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club.
The Slate-crowned Antpitta is a small bird with orange underparts and long legs found in forested mountains of the northern Andes. It differs from other slate-crowned antpittas in the shade of orange and olive in its plumage and by its short, low-pitched song. The name ’hallsi’ honours the British birder Alan G. Halls, who died in 2005 at the same time as the expedition on which the discovery was made.
This new subspecies of Slate-crowned Antpitta follows various other discoveries of birds and butterflies, being the fourth new taxon to be described from recent explorations of the Yariguíes mountains of Colombia by ProAves’ team. The 100 km Yariguies mountain range went unstudied for decades due to difficulty of access and political instability until recent surveys. The expedition team also found the world’s most viable populations of a host of critically endangered birds in the region. As a result, the Yariguíes mountains were declared a 78,837 ha National Park in 2005 and ProAves established a 545 ha nature reserve adjacent to the National Park.
The description was published as part of a substantial revision of the taxonomy of Slate-crowned Antpitta group. Another new subspecies, Grallaricula nana nanitaea, which had gone overlooked from Venezuela, was also described. It was further revealed that there are three distinct species within the Slate-crowned Antpitta group.
“This and other discoveries from our expeditions show the Yariguíes mountains to be a previously unknown centre of endemism” commented Thomas Donegan of ProAves, who discovered and described the new antpitta. “It is important to conserve the region in order to protect unique populations such as this.”
Grallaricula nana hallsi was discovered on the Fundación ProAves “EBA Project” expedition to Serranía de los Yariguíes. This and follow-up research on YARE project were supported by Royal Geographical Society, BP Conservation Programme (BirdLife International, Conservation International, Flora Fauna International, Wildlife Conservation Society), Duke of Edinburgh, Fondo para Acción Ambiental, Conservation International Colombia (Becas Iniciativa de Especies Amenazadas-Jorge Ignacio “El Mono” Hernández-Camacho), the Percy Sladen Memorial Fund (Linnean Society), Tropical Andean Butterfly Diversity Project, Game Conservancy Trust, World Pheasant Association, Corporación Autónoma Regional de Santander, Mayoralties of San Vicente de Chucurí, Galan and El Carmen, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Universidad de Caldas, Universidad de Tolima and Gobernación de Santander. Other expedition participants included: Colombian and British biologists and students Blanca Huertas, Jorge Avendaño, Elkin Briceño, John Jairo Arias, Cristóbal Ríos, Laura Rosado, Diana Villanueva, Diana Montealegre, Clare Turner, Martin Donegan and local guide José Pinto.