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One of the World’s Rarest Hummingbirds Makes a Dazzling Appearance in Colombia

03 Apr, 2024

This post was originally published on Colossal

Photo by Carole Turek. All images courtesy of American Bird Conservancy, shared with permission

Lost to science for more than six decades until it was photographed in 2010, the Santa Marta Sabrewing is one of the rarest hummingbirds in the world. Another sighting wasn’t documented until Yurgen Vega spotted one in 2022 and embarked on a joint study with researchers from the American Bird Conservancy, Universidad Nacional de ColombiaSELVAProCAT Colombia, and World Parrot Trust to trace the creature’s habitat and behavior.

Named for its home region in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of northern Colombia, the iridescent sabrewing is exceedingly difficult to spot in part because of its limited range. In biology, when an animal’s established habitat is contained in a small area, it is known as endemism, and this particular specimen’s home orbit is so finite that it is known as micro-endemic.

The Santa Marta Sabrewring was among the top ten most sought-after specimens in the Search for Lost Birds, so when professors Carlos Esteban Lara and Andrés M. Cuervo of Universidad Nacional de Colombia independently found others within the same area, their find spurred a collaborative effort to monitor and study the extremely rare population. Since then, stunning photographs have captured the bird’s magnificent, jewel-like sheen.

Read more about the study’s findings on the American Bird Conservancy website.

 

a photograph of a rare Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird in flight next to a tropical flower

Photo by Carole Turek

a photograph of a rare Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird perched on a branch and surrounded by green foliage

Photo by John C. Mittermeier

a photograph of a rare Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird perched on a branch with its wings spread

Photo by Carole Turek

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