New Bird Species for Bolivia

Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210,


Palkachupa Contingas by Benjamin Skolnik
Palkachupa Cotingas by Benjamin Skolnik

(September 2, 2011) A bird recently rediscovered in Bolivia after an absence of almost 100 years is a distinct species according to a recently published article in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.  The Palkachupa Cotinga was rediscovered in 2000 by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) partner Asociación Armonía. It was initially thought to be a subspecies of the Swallow-tailed Cotinga, which is found in Brazil, but with further study, it became clear the Palkachupa Cotinga deserved full species status.


The Palkachupa Cotinga is a small, brightly colored bird with vivid yellow, white, and black feathers; the males have a long forked tail. It is distinguished from its more common Brazilian cousin by tail length; plumage, eye and foot color; habitat; and vocalizations. The cotinga forages by flycatching in the forest canopy and eating fruits. It prefers to nest in trees along forest edges and even in isolated trees among savannah-type habitat. Its nests have also been found on barren, rocky ridge tops, which may indicate a lack of adequate nesting trees.


The Palkachupa Cotinga is endemic to Bolivia, and is likely to be classed as Critically Endangered due to its small population (600-800 individuals) and restricted geographic range. The special forest the species requires has been devastated over the last 100 years, leaving the species struggling for survival on the remaining forest fragments. The population stronghold is based around the small village of Atén, in western Bolivia just outside Madidi National Park, where Armonía has been conducting a conservation project for the last three years. They have established a 59-acre reserve and are working within the local community to raise awareness of the bird’s plight.


“We truly hope this publication will result in more attention to this unique species, as well as additional resources towards its protection and improved understanding of its ecology,” said Bennett Hennessey, Executive Director of Armonía and the author of the forthcoming publication.


Habitat for this newly named species continues to be reduced by cattle ranching and agriculture. Future conservation actions will include reforestation and outreach campaigns, reserve expansion through land acquisition, community-driven tourism, and species monitoring.




American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.