New Population of Very Rare, Long-whiskered Owlet Discovered in Peru

Long-whiskered Owlet.
Photo: © Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN)

 

The Long-whiskered Owlet, one of the rarest birds in the world, was filmed and photographed in January 2010 by researchers at La Esperanza, Peru. Fewer than 15 people have ever seen this bird in the wild. (See video below)

Several birds were spotted in an area only a few miles west of the Abra Patricia Reserve – which was created with funding from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and is owned and managed by ABC’s Peruvian conservation partner ECOAN.

The owlet was originally discovered in 1976, but not seen again until 2002. It was seen in 2008 at Abra Patricia where it has also been heard subsequently. This new sighting was at the main research area for the organization Neotropical Primate Conservation— the area is also home to one of the world’s most endangered primates, the yellow-tailed woolly monkey.

"Finding the Long-Whiskered Owlet was one of the most exciting moments in my life", says Shachar Alterman, one of the NPC research team members, "yet the excitement soon turned into fear, knowing how threatened these virgin forests are by deforestation, mining and cattle growing. I'm afraid the loss of habitat will eventually cause the total extinction of the Owlet. But maybe, only maybe, this new discovery will help us save the forest and all other living treasures hiding in it".

The researchers counted five individuals, making this the largest grouping of owlets ever recorded.

The owlet, which is about six inches tall, has been recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as one of nearly 800 animals in the world most at risk of extinction, making conservation of the habitat in and around Abra Patricia critical to the species’ survival.

 

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