But agriculture, burning, goat grazing and timber cutting have done their work on the plantcutter's home. "Finding spots with decent, diverse and relatively undisturbed forest is increasingly harder," said Jeremy Flanagan, a conservation biologist who founded ProAves Peru, an organization that works to preserve Peru's bird life.
Demands on the algarrobo tree, to provide firewood and charcoal, are continually growing, from meeting the demands of the country's grilled-chicken restaurants to a more menacing threat coming in the form of giant squid.
"No, they don't come out of the sea to eat the plantcutters," said Flanagan. "They take the waste of the squid, caught in the port of Talara, by truckload into the middle of the forest where they are boiled down to produce fish meal. The wood from the forest supplies the fuel."
With its striking colors and straight black bill, this 3-inch hummingbird makes up in vividness what it lacks in size -- and recognition. Considered rare and uncommon, the Esmeraldas woodstar, whose call is a rapid-fire chit-cheet and chit-chit-cheet, became "range restricted" to two or three disjointed sites in western Ecuador, on the western slope of the Andes.
But researchers Bert Harris, Ana Agreda, Mery Juina and Bernd Freymann, writing in the latest issue of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology, reported finding 11 new locales. What's more, they observed two matings and found 26 nests at nine sites, during eight months in 2007-2008, suggesting that even though the species is still Red Listed as endangered, it might be a little less so.
"The new locations are a big thing," said Harris, who's studying at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
But it's a similar story: The Esmeraldas woodstar's ideal habitat of lowland and foothill moist forest in coastal western Ecuador has fallen prey to the usual culprits: deforestation, logging, agriculture, persistent goat and cattle grazing. Machalilla National Park, a nominally protected area, has difficulty enforcing regulations -- illegal settlement persists inside the park, along with logging, hunting, farming and habitat clearance by people with land rights, according to the Wilson Journal study and Bird Life International.
It's a situation worth staying tuned to.
This pale, rosy-pink salmon-colored parrot, whose wings and tail have a yellow-orange underside, has a long, backward-curving deep-pink crest through which it communicates. Considered the prettiest bird in the parrot family, it might be too good-looking for its own good, as its beauty has made it a popular caged pet.
Red Listed as vulnerable if not endangered, this parrot's numbers have declined rapidly as a result of trapping for the pet bird trade, along with the usual culprits of deforestation, commercial timber extraction, logging, settlement and hydroelectric projects in its small range, according to Bird Life International.
"All parrot species are still threatened with trapping and illegal international trade in Asia," said Dian Agista, head of conservation at Burung Indonesia, a bird life association, in an e-mail from Bogor, Indonesia. "Like other parrot species, they are often kept as pets by local people.