Date: May 4, 2016
Source: Pensoft Publishers
Two juveniles of Shiny Cowbird, a parasitic bird that lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, were spotted in the Andean city of Quito, Ecuador, for the first time. This finding represents an altitudinal expansion of approximately 500 m.
Breeding populations might have been prompted by forest fragmentation and/or climate change, suggest the research team, led by Dr Verónica Crespo-Pérez, professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE). Resultingly, the 'immigrants' could be threatening native birds. The study is published in the open access Biodiversity Data Journal.
"The Shiny Cowbird is native to the lowlands of South America but within the last 100 years, it has been expanding its distribution to higher altitudes and latitudes" says the lead author.
The bird had already been noted from high altitudes in Bolivia and Perú, and in some localities in the Ecuadorian Andes. Since 2000, Juan Manuel Carrión, co-author and director of the Zoo in Quito, recalls observing Shiny cowbirds near his home in a valley near Quito at 2,300 m above sea level (asl). However, one has never before been reported from an altitude as high as 2,800 m asl.
Moreover, the fact that the observed individuals were juveniles means that the species is already breeding in the city.
"Such a significant expansion of reproductive birds, of approximately 500 m, could be related to human disturbances, like forest fragmentation or climate change," adds Crespo-Pérez.