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A6 Gift card
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THE MARVELLOUS SPATULETAIL HUMMINGBIRD
One of the world's rarest hummingbirds that only occurs in the remote Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru.This hummingbird was first reported in 1835 by the bird collector Andrew Matthews who worked for George Loddiges. He collected the skin of a male that became the basis for John Gould's famous monograph featuring this bird -- a portion of which artwork is shown at right.Status / ConservationThe Marvellous Spatuletail is endangered within its limited range (110 km2) due to deforestation on the mountain slopes of the Cordillera del Colán.Locals also capture males specifically for their attractive tail feathers and for food -- as their dried hearts are said to have aphrodisiac properties. Additionally, one of the childrens' established games is to shoot hummingbirds down with catapults.The American Bird Conservancy joined together with their Peruvian conservation partner ECOAN to protect and manage about 100 acres (0.40 km2) of significant habitat for the Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird. To this end, they planted over 30,000 native trees and bushes that specifically meet the needs of the Marvellous Spatuletail. This so-called conservation easement is the first of its kind in Peru. They also work together to develop a sustainable eco-tourism program.Several organizations are currently working in partnership to conduct an education program, survey additional sites and raise funds for land acquisition in the La Florida region.As tourism is growing in this area, efforts to preserve this species are intensifying amongst the locals. For example, Mr. Montenegro - formerly a potato farmer - is now growing plants that specifically attract around 30 bird species and children are being discouraged from harming hummingbirds.Distribution / HabitatThe Marvellous Spatuletail is restricted to the eastern slopes of the Rio Utcubamba Valley (an affluent on the right bank of the río Marañón) in the Cordillera del Colán, Amazonas, and one site in San Martîn, northern Peru at an elevation of 7000 ft (2100-2900m) (Birdlife International 2000).On the slopes above the río Utcubamba, it has been found north and south-east of Leimebamba, the Chachapoyas area and the town of Florida, on the shore of Lago Pomacochas. In recent history, the only place where this hummingbird can be found is near Florida, where it occurs in low densities and may only be seasonally present. Its numbers are continuing to decline (Birdlife International 2000).There is an isolated record of a male having been seen near Jesús del Monte, San Martín, in 1987. Other unconfirmed records placed this bird near Tingo, Utcubamba and Leimebamba.Those ornithologists who were able to locate this species agreed with Ted Parker's observations in the 1970s and 1980s that full-tailed males were outnumbered by females and immatures by a ratio of more than 5 to 1 (Hecht 2001). This may be explained by the fact, that the males are hunted and killed for the perceived aphrodisiac properties of their hearts and their long tails.This shy Spatuletail is typically found along the forest edge and isolated woodlots on steep slopes. They favor the thorny, impenetrable Rubus thickets admixed with Alnus trees.