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New brush finch bird discovered

09 October 2006

A new subspecies of bird has been discovered in a remote mountain range, the Serranía de los Yariguíes, in northern Columbia.

The new bird subspecies, a Yariguies brush finch, is discovered in Columbia. © Fundacion ProAves /PA

The new bird subspecies, a Yariguies brush finch, is discovered in Columbia. © Fundacion ProAves /PA

The Yaringuies brush finch, Atlapetes latinuchus yariguierum , has striking black, yellow and red plumage and differs from its closest relatives by having a black back and no white markings on its wings.

The bird was found by a team of scientists carrying out the first detailed biological expedition to this region of South America. 'The description of a new bird is a rare event in modern times,' said Bianca Huertas, butterfly expert at the Natural History Museum, and co-leader of the team.

More new finds

The team found several more species and sub species of wildlife that are new to science. Bianca adds, 'In my own specialist group, butterflies, we have found several new taxa (groups) that will be described soon.'

The subspecies was named from a specimen that died after capture and is now preserved in the collection of the Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia.  DNA samples and photographs were taken both of this bird and of another that was subsequently captured at an a nearby site and released unharmed.

'The discovery of a new taxon of birds is always an exciting event,' said Museum bird expert Robert Prys-Jones. 'The authors of the paper are to be congratulated for undertaking the fieldwork in remote and difficult terrain that led to it'.

The find was announced by Conservation International who helped fund the expedition. The description was published in the June 2006 issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club