Endangered Foreign Birds to Come Under Fed's Wing

Today, its range is about 807 square miles, and its natural habitat is about 98 to 99 percent lost, said Salaman, having given way to cattle grazing, clearing for timber, agriculture and illegal cocaine cultivation.

"Cocaine is a big threat, because it finishes off the forest," said Salaman.

Its stronghold is in the small mountain range of Las Quinchas, specifically in the El Paujil Bird Reserve, about 100 miles north of Bogota.

Estimates of how many remain range from 1,000 to 2,000, although Salaman believes the number is closer to 250.

Cauca Guan (Peneolop perspicax)

Cauca Guan Courtesy of Murray Cooper

Another once common Colombian game bird now living in reduced circumstances, the Cauca guan, like the blue-billed curassow, has lost about 95 percent of its living area in the past 50 years, mainly to deforestation, especially in the Cauca Valley -- a key strip for agriculture between the central and western Andes.

Preferring large, humid, tropical primary forest, the Cauca guan must now make due with "fragmented and isolated secondary forest remnants, forest edges and plantations of exotic Chinese ash trees," according to a 2005 study in Bird Conservation International.

Not quite as large as the blue-billed curassow, the Cauca guan comes with a thin neck and small head and a bright red wattle, or dewlap, set amid dull brown-gray feathers.

Its raucous, honking call has made it a target for hunters, even in some of its protected areas, reports Bird Life International.

"Let's put it this way," Salaman said. "This is a large chicken" that provides a major source of protein for the local population.

Red listed as endangered, the Cauca guan has fared slightly better than the critically endangered blue-billed curassow, which is much more terrestrial and so much more open to attack by predators.

Peruvian Plantcutter (Phytotoma raimondii)

Peruvian Plantcutter Courtesy of Murray Cooper

The 7.28-inch ash-gray Peruvian plantcutter, with white-tipped wings and a reddish-brown band down its belly, has a raspy, mechanical-sounding call that has been compared to the sound of a rusty hinge moving back and forth.

True to its name, it feasts on leaves, especially from algarrobo, or mesquite, trees in the prized Proscopis family, and on shrubs that grow in the coastal deserts of Peru, using its rounded serrated beak to cut through the foliage.

Like its other Red Listed brethren, its living under constrained circumstances in a severely fragmented environment. "It's like islands of habitat," said Fernando Angulo Pratolongo, a threatened birds area officer for Bird Life International's Peru program.

The plantcutter has its stronghold around the port city of Talara, a region in the heart of Peru's oil industry that runs along the Pan American highway, and holds 60 to 80 percent of the plantcutter population, or 400 to 600 birds.

Other sites are found farther south in Rafan, although that area has partly given way to sugarcane production, and in small forest remnants around Chiclayo in the Lambayeque region. The Bosque de Pomac, a somewhat protected area with a dense forest, is the newest site for the plantcutter.

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