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Bogota Sunangel Rediscovered?

posted by Ryan O'Donnell at
on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 

Bogota Sunangel, a hummingbird that was last seen alive over 100 years ago.
Painting by John Fjeldsa from The Auk v. 110, issue 1.

Birders and ornithologists are understandably quite cautious when it comes to reports of rediscovered extinct species.  As it is said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.  With all the caveats that apply to such a claim, I can't help but be excited about a recent announcement that the Bogota Sunangel has been rediscovered!

The Bogota Sunangel is perhaps the rarest species of hummingbird on the planet.  It is known from only a single specimen, purchased in 1909 in Bogota, Colombia.  For many years, people speculated that it might not even be a species, but rather a rare hybrid between other known species.  (Hybrids have been mistaken for new species before.  For example, see the "Brewer's Duck." )  Just last year, scientists used DNA from the only specimen in existence to demonstrate that the Bogota Sunangel was in fact a real species, not a hybrid.

James Currie has been filming the only tv show I know of devoted to birding, "Birding Adventures", for a couple years now.  On his Facebook page this afternoon, he reported that "Hey all - sorry its been so long since the last post but we are filming in Colombia. Having an absolute blast. Supposed to return tomorrow but we are extending our stay to try film the Bogota Sunangel. This hummingbird was last known from a specimen in 1909 so its 102 years since its been recorded! It has just been found. Wish us luck!"  The ornithology world is waiting anxiously to see if his crew can secure footage of this amazing bird.

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Blogger Tim Avery said...

A W E S O M E !

I love it when news comes out about species that no one has ever really seen, or it has been decades since one has been reported. It gives some hope to a future for those birds. More importantly, it shows that despite humans, and technology, these birds have managed to continue unbeknownst to man for over 100 years. Incredible! Thanks for sharing Ryan.

December 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Oliver Hansen said...

Very Cool.

December 6, 2011 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Ryan O'Donnell said...

A brief and mysterious update from James Currie via Facebook this afternoon: "Well folks here we are with great footage and images of this hummingbird. Out of respect for the folk who found it I will reserve my opinions at this stage but it is definitely a mystery bird, very sylph-like in appearance but could also be the long-lost Bogota Sunangel. I will leave that to the experts to debate. Please understand my reluctance to post any images and video at this stage. Stay tuned!"

December 7, 2011 at 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Diego Calderon said...


December 9, 2011 at 10:50 PM  

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