Why in news?
=>In 2017, researchers working in the Ecuadorian Andes stumbled across a previously unknown species of hummingbird but as documented in a new study, its small range, specialized habitat, and threats from human activity mean the newly described Blue-throated Hillstar is likely already critically endangered.
=>Researchers first observed and photographed during fieldwork in southwest Ecuador in April 2017. They dubbed the new species Oreotrochilus cyanolaemus, or the Blue-throated Hillstar, for its iridescent blue throat.
=>Hillstars are unusual among hummingbirds, they live in high-elevation habitats in the Andes and have special adaptations to cold temperatures.
=>The Blue-throated Hillstar is found only along bush-lined creeks in an area of about 100 square kilometers, and the researchers estimate there are no more than 750 individuals, perhaps fewer than 500. Threats to its habitat include fire, grazing, and gold mining, and it meets the criteria to be considered critically endangered.
=>Complete support from national and international conservation agencies is needed in order to save this species. The action plan for the conservation of this bird is creating a network of protected areas along its geographic range.
=>The hillstar hummingbirds 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. This striking discovery confirms that life in the high Andes still holds many secrets to be revealed.
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