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First nest ever discovered of world's most endangered birds

Posted on 28. March, 2013.

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The first known nest of one of the world's rarest birds – the Critically Endangered Stresemann's Bristlefront – has been discovered in Brazil, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Of perhaps equal significance is that strong evidence of active nestlings was also found.

The Stresemann's Bristlefront is one of the world's most threatened bird species, unrecorded for 50 years until it was rediscovered in 1995 near Una, Bahia, in Brazil's Atlantic Forest region. The world population estimate is fewer than 15 individuals. Its population is declining due to fires, logging, and the clearance of humid valley-floor forest for cattle ranching and agriculture.

In October 2012, Dimas Pioli and Gustavo Malacco, two Brazilian researchers visiting Fundação Biodiversitas’ Mata do Passarinho Reserve discovered the bird’s nesting tunnel entrance, a tennis ball sized hole, located about three feet from the ground in an exposed dirt vertical edge that contained overhanging vegetation. Nesting tunnels are typical for the ground dwelling Tapaculo family, to which the Bristlefront belongs. The hole is estimated to be approximately six feet deep. It was surveyed and filmed with a micro-camera and further data should be published shortly.

“This is the discovery of a lifetime made all the more gratifying by the fact that not only have we found live adult birds, but we have also found strong evidence of several chicks,” said Alexandre Enout, the Reserve’s Manager. “It is urgent that we protect more of the natural Atlantic Forest in this area and reforest areas where forest has been lost. The best way to save this species is by increasing its potential habitat.”

American Bird Conservancy and its in-country partner Fundação Biodiversitas are working to protect and acquire land in and around the 1,500-acre Mata do Passarinho Reserve in northeast Brazil. This reserve protects a key fragment of Atlantic Forest which provides the environment required by the Stresemann's Bristlefront. About 245 bird species have been recorded in the reserve, 37 of which are endemic to Brazil.

Photo: Stresemann's Bristlefront. Photo courtesy of Ciro Albano, NE Brazil Birding.

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