New bird species discovered in 'cloud forest' of Peru

Aug 06, 2012
The Sira Barbet, Capito fitzpatricki, has been discovered and named by Cornell University graduates following an expedition to the remote Peruvian Andes. Credit: Cornell University

A colorful, fruit-eating bird with a black mask, pale belly and scarlet breast – never before described by science – has been discovered and named by Cornell University graduates following an expedition to the remote Peruvian Andes.

The Sira Barbet, Capito fitzpatricki, is described in a paper published in the July 2012 issue of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union.

The new was discovered during a 2008 expedition led by Michael G. Harvey, Glenn Seeholzer and Ben Winger, young ornithologists who had recently graduated from Cornell at the time. They were accompanied by co-author Daniel Cáceres, a graduate of the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín in Arequipa, Peru, and local Ashéninka guides. The team discovered the barbet on a ridge of montane cloud forest in the Cerros del Sira range in the eastern Andes. Steep ridges and deep river gorges in the Andes produce many isolated habitats and microclimates that give rise to uniquely evolved species.

Though clearly a sister species of the Scarlet-banded Barbet, the Sira Barbet is readily distinguished by differences in color on the bird's flanks, lower back and thighs, and a wider, darker scarlet breast band. By comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences of the new barbet to DNA sequences of its close relatives in the genus Capito, the team secured genetic evidence that this is a new species in the barbet family. The genetic work was done by co-author Jason Weckstein at The Field Museum in Chicago.

The team chose the scientific name of the new species Capito fitzpatricki in honor of Cornell Lab of Ornithology executive director John W. Fitzpatrick, who discovered and named seven new bird species in Peru during the 1970s and '80s.

"Fitz has inspired generations of young ornithologists in scientific discovery and conservation," said Winger. "He was behind us all the way when we presented our plan for this expedition."

Explore further: Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

More information: A copy of the July 2012 Auk paper outlining the find can be downloaded from: bit.ly/OL0SkW

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ivory-billed woodpecker recordings made

Aug 24, 2005

Researchers say more than 18,000 hours of recordings from eastern Arkansas forests contain further evidence of the existence of ivory-billed woodpeckers.

Recommended for you

Offspring benefit from mum sending the right message

1 minute ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers have uncovered a previously unforeseen interaction between the sexes which reveals that offspring survival is affected by chemical signals emitted from the females' eggs.

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice

14 hours ago

Humans aren't alone in their ability to match a voice to a face—animals such as dogs, horses, crows and monkeys are able to recognize familiar individuals this way too, a growing body of research shows.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ranchers benefit from long-term grazing data

Scientists studying changes in the Earth's surface rely on 40 years of Landsat satellite imaging, but South Dakota ranchers making decisions about grazing their livestock can benefit from 70 years of data ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

(Phys.org) —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...