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Prelims Syllabus : Environment Mains Syllabus :

Why in News?

  • A team of ornithologists in Ecuador has identified a new species of hummingbird: a lovely blue-green creature that lives in a cold, barren highland area and is in danger of extinction.

About the bird:

  • The bird is about 11 cm (four inches) long and has a stunning, deep blue neck, a white breast with a black stripe and greenish-blue head and body feathers.
  • It has been given the name Oreotrochilus cyanolaemus, or blue-throated star. The discovery was announced in a journal called The Auk: Ornithological Advances.
  • The bird lives at an altitude of 3,000 to 3,700 meters (10,000 to 12,000 feet) in an area near the Pacific coast that straddles the provinces of Loja and El Oro.
  • Researchers estimate there are only 300 of these birds and say its habitat is shrinking dramatically. Mining in the area also threatens it.
  • These birds are very well documented so the discovery of a new one is extremely rare. This is the first such find in 30 years.
  • Hummingbirds are distinguished by their colors and the shape of their beak. “Each one represents the colors of the jewels that can see in the world: diamond, ruby, amethyst,” said Sornoza, who has studied birds for 30 years and is so crazy about them he imitates bird song.
  • Hummingbirds are tough little creatures, — their hearts beat 1,600 times per minute by day but that goes down to 200 at night to help them survive cold temperatures. The new species has a slightly curved beak that helps it get at the flowers of the chuquiragua, a plant that Ecuadoran highlanders use to brew tea also known as “flower of the Andes” or “flower of true love”.
  • It can eat up to two times its weight in nectar.
  • The hill star humming birds occur in the most rugged, isolated, and inaccessible parts of the Andes, where they roost in caves, forage on the ground, and spend half their lives in hypothermic torpor, so the discovery of a new species in this group is incredibly exciting.
  • The distributional range of the blue-throated hill star, as currently known, is confined to small ridges not surpassing 3,700 m, both on east- and west-facing slopes and upper ridges of the west Andean cordillera.
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