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Home » Headline, News

First Photo Of Endangered Santa Marta Sabrewing

Submitted by on April 5, 2010 – 10:30 pm3 Comments
Santa Marta Sabrewing by Laura Cardenas

Santa Marta Sabrewing by Laura Cardenas

The first ever photo of a living Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird was taken on March 24th by Laura Cardenas.

According to ProAves:

This photograph is the first confirmation of this spectacular hummingbird after over 60 years when the species was collected by ornithologists working in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta at the end of the second world war (in 1946).

The Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird is considered to be at a high risk of extinction. The IUCN classifies the bird as Endangered and endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Condor Observation Tower by ProAves Colombia

Condor Observation Tower by ProAves Colombia

Laura took the photo besides the new Condor Observation Tower at an elevation of about 1,900 meters (6,200 feet) in the El dorado Bird Reserve located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The name Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta means Snowy Mountain Range of Saint Martha. It’s an isolated part of the Andes mountain range that runs through Columbia and is the world’s highest coastal range.

Don’t worry, the bird in the photo is okay! It was caught in a net, banded, photographed, and then released unharmed.

left to right: Hernan, Laura Cardensa, Camila, Jeyson and Nick

left to right: Hernan, Laura Cardensa, Camila, Jeyson and Nick

Laura has been working with a team monitoring migratory birds in the 1,600 acre bird reserve as part of the project called “Crossing the Caribbean: Identifying critical fueling sites for Neotropical migrants in northern Colombia”. You can follow Laura Cardensa and the rest of the team on their blog called Migración de Aves en la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This is actually where they first published photos of the Santa Marta Sabrewing in their blog post called Predominan las Vermivoras en El Dorado.

In 2006, this area was designated for vacation homes, but a last minute land purchase saved the day! The money necessary for the purchase was raised by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Conservation International (CI), in cooperation with the Colombian conservation organization ProAves who manages several other bird reserves in Columbia. If it wasn’t for this, we may have never seen the beautiful Santa Marta Sabrewing hummingbird!

George Fenwick, President of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) said:

This confirmation of the Santa Marta Sabrewing further emphasizes the national and global importance of the El Dorado Nature Reserve for endemic birds and wildlife. ABC was excited to have been able to help in the purchase of the land for the reserve in 2006, and this latest development demonstrates that the timing of that purchase perhaps could not have been better.

The video below by ProAves gives a nice overview of the El Dorado Bird Reserve.

[ProAves via American Bird Conservancy]

  • Nick

    Just to clarify a couple of points:
    1. This is not the first photo of the Sabrewing alive or confirmation of its existance after 60 years. Various Colombian ornithologists have photos, video recordings and sound recordings from recent years.
    2. The area was not slated for development with vacation homes. It was land that belonged to a private farm which had protected the forest as a watershed for over 100 years.
    3. The Sabrewing neither breeds or regularly occurs in forest at 2000 m where El Dorado is located. Other areas of the Sierra Nevada, i.e. the Sierra Nevada National Park, are far more important for this species survival.

  • Dwight Baldwin

    I took serveral photos of this bird while I was in Medellin Colombia in Jan 2008.
    This bird is not as rare as stated. I sent one of the photos to the American Bird Conservancy and they have not bothered to reply even my photo is by far superior.

  • Andrew

    Okay, I admit it. Just a bit jealous! :) Are your photos online, like over at Flickr? Would love to see them!