The tiny, secretive Junín Rail can only be found (if you are very lucky) along the shores of a single lake in Peru. The lake has been recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) as a site that must be protected to save this species and another, the Junín Grebe.
The Junín Rail is no larger than a sparrow, and with its bright red eyes and cryptically-patterned dark plumage, closely resembles North America’s Black Rail, another declining and difficult-to-find bird.
Unfortunately, Lake Junín has been greatly impacted by the local human population and development; activities including mining, dam-building, and clearing of shoreline vegetation have created pollution and water-level changes and affected habitat for the rail, the grebe and other endemic and endangered species such as the Lake Junín giant frog.
More protection of this highly threatened lake and its wildlife is needed. ABC and Peruvian partner ECOAN are working in the region to develop a conservation program for the lake and surrounding habitat that involves local community members.
The photograph above was taken by ABC’s Mike Parr on a recent trip to Lake Junín where he and other biologists were fortunate to find this extremely secretive bird and take some unusually close-up photos. Read about their encounter with the rail and see more photos!