By Daniel Lebbin May 25, 2016
High in the Santa Marta Mountains of Colombia in early 2015, two guards from Fundación ProAves' El Dorado Reserve found the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, a hummingbird nobody had seen for 69 years. The rediscovery of such lost birds is not as infrequent as one might guess. Finding them, as other ABC-funded expeditions have done in the past with the Pale-headed Brush Finch and other birds, can be vital to their conservation. It's hard to protect birds if you don't know where they live.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature currently ranks at least 24 species in the Americas as threatened even though the species have no known individuals in the wild nor surviving in captivity. Most of these species should probably be considered extinct. But some may still persist, living in areas that are difficult to search and where few people go.
To untangle this mystery and determine if the birds are still out there—and therefore deserving of our conservation attention—ABC is mobilizing resources and partners to conduct searches for some of South America's lost birds. We're starting with three: the Tachira Antpitta, the Turquoise-throated Puffleg, and the Kinglet Calyptura.