Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drugs threaten new hummingbird species

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- There's a new chirp in the forest but it may be choked by the slashing and burning of trees by coca farmers, researchers said.

The Gorgeted Puffleg, a rare hummingbird that boasts a plumage of violet blue and iridescent green on its throat, has been discovered living in the cloud forests of southwestern Colombia, researchers announced.

The species belongs to the Puffleg genus, which appear to have "little cotton balls above their legs," said Luis Mazariegos-Hurtado, who has spent 30 years documenting hummingbirds and founded the Colombian Hummingbird Conservancy.

The species -- known by its scientific name Eriocnemis isabellae -- was confirmed by two of the world's leading specialists on the puffleg, Karl L. Schuchmann, curator of ornithology at Zoological Research Museum A. Koenig in Germany, and F. Gary Stiles of the Instituto de Ciencias Naturales at Colombia's Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

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