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New Bird Species Recognised in Colombia, May Already be Extinct

02/04/2008 10:12:22 world/antiquoia-finch5
A new bird species, the Antioquia Brush-Finch or Atlapetes blancae – has been described as a result of studies supported by Fundación ProAves in Colombia. Ornithologists are concerned about the conservation of the new species, as nobody knows whether or not it still exists.

The species was recognised from 3 skins collected separately over the last 50 years. They were initially thought to be from another species, but have recently been recognised as a separate species. No one has seen a live one, and it isn’t even known for sure exactly where they are to be found as the skins were not well labelled or documented.
Newly recognised Antiquoia Brush-Finch from Colombia. © Proaves
The description of the Antioquia Brush-Finch was published in the latest edition of the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club by Thomas Donegan of ProAves. Three mid-20th century specimens of Atlapetes Blancae were found in the natural history museums of Colombian universities, all of which were likely collected near a seminary of La Salle University in Antioquia department of Colombia. Atlapetes blancae has distinctive plumage, confirming its identification as a previously undescribed species. Various explorations in the region where the species was collected over 35 years ago have taken place but none resulted in any observation of the new species.
 Donegan said: ‘Hopefully, a population of the Antioquia Brush-Finch can be found and protected. It is ironic that the world’s most recently described bird species may also be among the most endangered.’ The Antioquia Brush-Finch has been proposed for ‘Critically Endangered’ status, pending further searches.

The species epithet ‘blanca’ honours the Colombian lepidopterologist Blanca Huertas, who has participated with Donegan in many expeditions supported by ProAves. The name blancae also refers to the pale plumage of the new species compared to other brush-finches found in the region.

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