Debbie Blicher is Senior Producer of Ray Brown's Talkin' Birds.
The American Bird Conservancy reports that an international team of researchers has solved one of South America's great bird mysteries: that of the elusive Táchira Antpitta. It's a small, brown bird that had not been seen since the 1950s, listed as Critically Endangered and even thought to have gone extinct.
Antpittas are reclusive birds that are easier heard than seen. Unfortunately, the team had no sound recordings, so no one knew what to listen for. They did know where to search for it, though. Eventually, they picked up the distinctive sound of an antpitta that they had never heard before, deep in the mountainous forests of western Venezuela, and were then able to identify the bird from previous descriptions.
Similar habitat can be found nearby in Colombia, and the scientists think the species might also occur there. They’re now working to determine the bird’s full range and habitat requirements, and how best to ensure its continued survival.