Hummingbird last seen in 2010 rediscovered in Colombia
The Santa Marta Sabrewing, last seen in 2010, has been found again in the wilderness of Colombia. This discovery sparked hope for the revival of natural habitats and the motivation to search for more lost species.
A rare hummingbird has been rediscovered by an explorer in Colombia after missing for more than a decade.
The large, emerald-colored hummingbird, known as the Santa Marta Sabrewing, only found in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains (thus the name), was last observed in 2010, but scientists feared the species might be extinct as the tropical forests it called home were subject to deforestation for agricultural reasons.
In its natural habitat
It is only the third time the species has been documented: the first was in 1946 and the second in 2010, when researchers captured the first photos of the species in the wilderness.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia is home to a wealth of wildlife, including 24 bird species not found anywhere else. But scientists estimate that only 15% of the mountains’ forest is still conserved. It is hoped that this rare sighting of the Santa Marta sabrewing will help to protect their remaining habitat, benefiting many different species found in that area.
“Seeing a phantom”
Yurgen Vega, who spotted the species, expressed his emotions, “When I first saw the hummingbird I immediately thought of the Santa Marta sabrewing. I couldn’t believe it was waiting there for me to take out my camera and start shooting. I was almost convinced it was the species, but because I felt so overcome by emotion, I preferred to be cautious; it could’ve been the Lazuline sabrewing, which is often confused with Santa Marta sabrewing. But once we saw the pictures, we knew it was true.”
The Santa Marta sabrewing is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species and is included in the top 10 “most wanted” list in the conservation organization Search for Lost Birds. The bird is so rare and elusive that the director of threatened species outreach at American Bird Conservancy, John C Mittermeier, resembled the sighting to “seeing a phantom”.
“The next step is going out there and searching for stable populations of this species, trying to better understand where it does occur and what the most critical threats are in situ. Of course, this must involve people from local communities and local and regional environmental authorities, so we can begin a research and conservation programme together that can have real impact,” said the director of conservation science with Selva: Research for Conservation in the Neotropics, Esteban Botero-Delgadillo.