Eye on conservation: A new reserve for one of world’s smallest hummingbirdsProtection expanded for rare Gold-ringed Tanager

7/23/2013 | 0

Gold-ringed Tanager gets its name from the yellow ring that runs around its cheek and above the eye. Photo courtesy Felix Uribe/American Bird Conservancy

Gold-ringed Tanager gets its name from the yellow ring that runs around its cheek and above the eye. Photo courtesy Felix Uribe/American Bird Conservancy

One of the last strongholds of the endangered Gold-ringed Tanager — a distinctively marked black, green, and yellow bird known to inhabit only five locations along 150 miles of ridgetop on the Pacific slope of the Andes — has been expanded.

More than 2,750 acres have been added to the reserve known as Las Tángaras, in the Chocó area of western Colombia. It now encompasses almost 8,500 acres located between 4,100 and 11,155 feet (1,250-3,400 meters) above sea level.

The reserve protects one of the most diverse and important tropical-forest sites on Earth. It was created in October 2009 by American Bird Conservancy, World Land Trust-US, World Land Trust, and the Colombian nonprofit organization Fundación ProAves with support from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust to preserve habitat for Gold-ringed Tanager and another endemic species, Black-and-Gold Tanager.

Field surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Fundación ProAves determined that as few as 500 Gold-ringed Tanagers remained and identified a critical population of up to 50 pairs 50 miles southwest of Medellín. The location immediately became the target area for creating the reserve. Four properties were acquired at once, and 12 more were purchased soon after.

Fundación ProAves owns and operates Las Tángaras, which occupies an area that is renowned for its lush forests and boasts remarkable opportunities for birding. More than 250 species have been documented so far, including the endangered Chocó Vireo and Brown Inca, Velvet-purple Coronet, and Empress Brilliant hummingbirds. The area is also home to spectacled bear, jaguar, and other threatened species.

The reserve started attracting birdwatchers, ornithologists, and nature tourists soon after its creation, and a spacious eight-room lodge, a house for staff, and a restaurant featuring a balcony overlooking the nearby river were constructed recently. To book a reservation at the lodge or to visit the reserve, contact Ecoturs at info@ecoturs.org.

Las Tángaras is located alongside the main thoroughfare to Medellín from the coast. The road is scheduled to be paved, a development project that will inevitably lead to greater colonization and development.

american-bird-conservancy-logo--140x84This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. You can read more about ABC’s international programs at www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/international.

This article appeared in the August 2013 issue of BirdWatching magazine.