Named for its glittering blue-green throat and upper chest, the endangered Honduran Emerald is this country’s only endemic bird, and one of few birds endemic to any country in Central America.
Unfortunately, 90% of the emerald’s original habitat has been lost to agriculture and degraded by cattle grazing, and what remains occurs only in isolated patches of a few acres each. This has caused precipitous declines in the bird’s population.
In 2005, ABC supported the creation of the Honduran Emerald Reserve in the Aguan Valley – the first and so far only protected area for the species. However, a
Honduran Emerald by Greg Homel
recent road improvement project will allow greater exploitation and more rapid loss of remaining habitat that is on private lands. As mitigation for the new road, an agreement has been made to increase the protected area by almost 2,000 acres.
The recent rediscovery of the species in the Santa Barbara Department marks the first time birds have been seen in western Honduras since 1935. This led to the species being downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered. However, new conservation initiatives are now needed to protect the new known sites of the Honduran Emerald, and maintain existing protection efforts.