Land Acquisitions To Help Protect One Of World's Rarest Birds

Monday, August 12, 2013
Long-whiskered Owlet
Long-whiskered Owlet
- photo by ECOAN

Two new key properties have been acquired in northern Peru that will expand Abra Patricia Reserve to over 25,000 acres and help protect habitat for one of the world’s rarest birds, the Long-whiskered Owlet, along with 23 other globally threatened species.

The acquisitions were funded by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and completed by Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN), ABC’s partner in Peru. When combined with three other properties purchased by the two groups in January and February 2013, the newly acquired lands total 1,261 acres. The Abra Patricia area is recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a critical site for both the endangered Long-whiskered Owlet as well as the endangered Ochre-fronted Antpitta.

The Long-whiskered Owlet, which was only discovered in 1976, is one of the tiniest owls in the world, measuring only five inches tall. The bird’s long, wispy facial feathers extend out past its head, creating the appearance of long whiskers.

The reserve at Abra Patricia (formally known as the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area) consists of land privately owned by ECOAN as well as a 40-year conservation concession on forestry lands. When added to the recent acquisitions, the reserve now totals more than 25,000 acres managed by ECOAN for conservation.

These land acquisitions continue a string of recent successes ECOAN and ABC have celebrated in northern Peru. Their recent reforestation campaign resulted in completion of a new tree nursery at La Union, just north of Abra Patricia Reserve, and the planting of nearly 75,000 native trees and 25,000 coffee bushes in a variety of mixed forest, shade agriculture, silvipasture, and living fence systems on private lands near reserves. Those reserves were established to improve habitat on degraded lands for resident and migratory birds. Communities involved in the effort included San Lucas de Pomacochas and surrounding villages who are working to establish new protected areas for the communities’ forests and watershed.

The Abra Patricia Reserve is located in cloud forests in the Department of Amazonas and is adjacent to the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. The area is home to more than 300 bird species including many endemic to Peru. Twenty-three of these pecies are considered globally threatened. In addition to the Long-whiskered Owlet and Ochre-fronted Antpitta, other rare, threatened birds include the Royal Sunangel, Johnson’s Tody-Tyrant, Ochre-breasted Tody-Tyrant, and Pale-billed Antpitta. Several songbirds that breed in North America, such as the Swainson's Thrush, Blackburnian Warbler, and Cerulean Warbler, winter in the forests of Abra Patricia, as well. Abra Patricia is also home to the critically endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey and a diversity of other wildlife and rare orchids.

Located along the Northern Peru Birding Route, Abra Patricia is one of the premier birding destinations in Peru, itself one of the premier countries for birding in the world. The Owlet Lodge at Abra Patricia often serves as a base for birding tourists who typically spend several days at other regional birding spots, such as Waqanki, Huembo, and Gotas de Agua. Owlet Lodge is a four- to five-hour drive from the airport in Tarapoto, and the spectacular Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird can be seen just an hour’s drive away at Huembo Reserve. To learn more about the ecotourism and birding opportunities in the Abra Patricia region, visit our Conservation Birding website.

Support for the land protection and acquisition, as well as the community programs and reforestation efforts, was generously provided by the IUCN NL / Small Grants for the Purchase of Nature (SPN) sponsored by the Netherlands Postcode Lottery, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, DJ & T Foundation, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Tropical Forests Forever Fund, Jeniam Foundation, The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, New England BioLabs Foundation, Lorna and Mike Anderberg, Cathy and Warren Cooke, Patricia and David Davidson, Nancy and Dick Eales, Joyce Millen and David Harrison, Stephen Rumsey, the Robert Wilson Charitable Trust, and Connie and Jeff Woodman. 

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