Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Three Bird Species from Latin America and the Caribbean Proposed for Protection

January 7, 2009


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed to protect three species of birds from Latin America and the Caribbean under the Endangered Species Act. The proposal was published on December 24, 2008 in the Federal Register.

The Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus), native to Andean regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru;  the Chilean woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii), native to river valleys in Peru and Chile; and the St. Lucia forest thrush (Cichlherminia lherminieri sanctaeluciae), found on the of St. Lucia in the West Indies, are proposed to be classified as endangered.

Should the birds be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, import or export of any of the species, or their parts, as well as sale in interstate or foreign commerce, would be prohibited. The only exception to the prohibitions would be for scientific purposes or to aid in efforts to enhance the propagation or survival of the species.

The Andean flamingo is a waterbird that inhabits shallow wetlands in the Andean regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Andean flamingos are the largest flamingos in South America, reaching a height of three and a half feet. These colonial water birds live and breed in shallow wetlands, called salars. The species has undergone a severe population decline in the last few decades coinciding with increased habitat alteration from urbanization and mining activities, continued utilization for local consumption, and increased risk of disease (such as botulism) and predation (by species such as the Andean wolf and pampas fox). An increasing human presence in the region has increased disturbance of nesting sites and an ongoing drought has altered water availability at the wetland complexes upon which these birds rely.

The Chilean woodstar is a small hummingbird endemic to Chile and Peru that measures only three inches in length. The bird is found only in two river valleys and has only one known breeding site, where the species was found nesting in olive trees. The birds primary habitat has been extensively modified for agricultural activities. The negative effects of ongoing agricultural practices, such as pesticide spraying, as well as competition from another, more aggressive hummingbird (the Peruvian sheartail) are compounded by the species restricted range, slow population growth, and extremely small population size. 

The St. Lucia forest thrush, a subspecies of the forest thrush, is native to the 238-square mile St. Lucia in the West Indies. Approximately 10 inches long, the St. Lucia forest thrush occupies mid- and high altitude moist forests, where it feeds on insects and berries. This subspecies natural forest habitat has been largely converted to secondary habitat due to ongoing timber harvest, conversion of forest lands to agriculture, construction activities, and road development. The population is so small that the St. Lucia forest thrush is at risk of loss of genetic variation, which can decrease their ability to survive catastrophes, such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions.

The purpose of this proposed rule is to seek additional status information for the Andean flamingo, Chilean woodstar and St. Lucia forest thrush from all available sources, including peer reviewers, scientific researchers, non-government organizations, government agencies, range countries, and individuals. 

The Service will accept comments and materials concerning this proposed rule from all interested parties for 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: > the instructions on the Web page for submitting comments). To deliver written comments by U.S. mail or hand-delivery, address to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-IA-2008-0117, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, Virginia  22203.  The Service is not able to accept e-mail or faxes. All comments will be posted on " target_blank"> Comments, along with personal identifying information, will be posted on the website. Requests to withhold personal identifying information cannot be guaranteed.

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