Spectacular Courtship Display of Rare Hummingbird Filmed For First Time

Endangered Species Drawing Birdwatchers to Peru (Washington DC, 5 April, 2007) American Bird Conservancy (ABC) today released the first ever film of the spectacular courtship display of the Marvelous Spatuletail, a highly endangered hummingbird that lives in the mountains of northern Peru. To view a segment of this extremely rare footage, visit www.abcbirds.org/video/spatuletail.htm. The video was shot by wildlife filmmaker Greg Homel of Natural Elements Productions. Broadcast quality and high-definition video are available upon request. “This is a truly magnificent display by a really spectacular bird. To lose this threatened species would be a tragedy,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy. “The Marvelous Spatuletail is the focus of conservation efforts including reforestation projects and the creation of a conservation easement in northern Peru, a region which is rapidly becoming a hotspot for birding in South America.” The Marvelous Spatuletail, is unique among hummingbirds in that it has only four tail feathers. The tail of the adult male is more than twice as long as its body and ends in two great spoon-shaped ‘spatules’ that radiate a metallic, purplish gloss. The males compete for females by whirling their long tails around their bodies in an amazing courtship display, which had previously only been witnessed by a few ornithologists and had never been filmed. This display is considered to be one of the most bizarre in the bird world - the males repeatedly attack each other in the air, contorting their bodies and tails into strange shapes at incredible speed. “This is perhaps the most visually spectacular and specialized hummingbird in the world,” said international nature videographer Greg R. Homel of Natural Elements Productions who shot the video. “It’s a bird that has long been desired to be seen by many.” Photos are available at http://www.abcbirds.org/spatuletail.htm Hummingbird Protected by First Conservation Easement in Northern Peru In August 2006 American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced the first conservation easement in northern Peru that provides a lifeline for the survival of the rare hummingbird. The agreement, signed between a local community and ABC’s Peruvian partner group Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN, www.ecoanperu.org), protects a site where the species occurs which is a global conservation priority for the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE). AZE is a coalition of conservation organizations that aim to protect 595 sites around the world that are the last refuges for endangered species which rely on single remaining locations for their survival. “Conservation is not the role of single individuals but of our entire society. When you see communities that understand such challenges and sign such commitments as this conservation easement, you see progress and feel there is hope,” said Constantino Aucca Chutas, President of ECOAN. The area where the hummingbird lives is already known to birdwatchers, and the Spatuletail is fast becoming a flagship species for tourism -- appearing in travel advertisements in American magazines that aim to attract birdwatchers. It has also been declared the “Regional Bird” for Peru’s Amazonas region, and is featured in the Commission for the Promotion of Peru’s tourism brochures and the Northern Peru Birding Route (www.perubirdingroutes.com). “The easement represents a significant step forward for conservation and bird tourism in northern Peru which for years has been off the main tourist trails. The Marvelous Spatuletail is the Machu Picchu of the bird world. It is the ultimate hummingbird for most birdwatchers because of its rarity, spectacular tail, and vibrant plumage,” said Parr. “By protecting the species’ habitat we can help ecosystem conservation, and bring much-needed tourist income to local families.” ABC’s and ECOAN’s work in the region is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Conoco Phillips, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Robert Wilson, BirdLife International, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under its Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grant program. # ENDS # American Bird Conservancy (ABC, www.abcbirds.org) is the only 501(c)(3) organization that works solely to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is a membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group Charity Navigator.