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What's New in the Tropics Where They Winter?

  1. According to Cotinga: Journal of the Neotropical Bird Club, UK, No.20, Autumn 2003, page 12, West Nile Virus has reached the Neotropics and is killing birds in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

    "Of greatest immediate conservation concern is the Critically Endangered Ridgway's Hawk Buteo ridgwayi as the virus has been detected in Los Haitises National Park (Dominican Republic which holds the subpopulation on which the species' survival depends. Other threatened birds in the Dominican Republic are also at risk in the short term, but longer term, the disease has the capacity to threaten any rare Caribbean bird species...." - Kansas University news release, 13 March 2003 (

  2. Other Wintering Americans May Be Bouncing Back. Kirtland's Warbler. between December 2002 and February 2003. March 2003 reached the highest counts anywhere in the Bahamas since the late 1800's, according to US Forestry Service-funded Kirtland's Warbler Research and Training Project investigating the species' wintering requirements. The project also trains Bahamians in field and conservation biology. - Dave Currie in litt. February 2003. (Citation: Cotinga 20 "Neotropical News", Caribbean, page 12.)

  3. What Happens to Other Birds Down There, Happens to Ours. Take this neighbor in Brazil - How many colors are there on a Seven-coloured Tanager?

    Seven-coloured Tanager, Tangara fastuosa (Edson Endrigo)

    Quick! because they may not be around long, and our birds experience similar conditions wherever they winter.

    "Threats and conservation: Seven-coloured Tanager has experienced severe habitat loss, only 2% of the original Atlantic Forest remains in north-east Brazil, much of it second growth, and capture to supply the cagebird trade. None of the remaining forest fragments is larger than 4,000 ha, with most of this still subject to selective logging and poaching....

    "During a visit to the recently decreed (but ineffectively implemented) Murici Ecological Station we saw the last forest remnants on ridgetops being encroached by pastures: the sound of axes and chainsaws was common. Large areas were cleared for charcoal production just prior to our visit in October 2001 (C.J. Bakker pers. comm.) There is a lack of law enforcement by local environmental authorities, despite the state representative of the Federal Environment Institute responsible for managing Murici having its office only 65 km away...."

    Two boys selling five Seven-coloured Tanagers trapped at Usina Utinga Leão (Fábio Olmos)
    "....[Seven-coloured Tanagers] are captured with the aid of a caged tanager, which serves as a decoy. The strongly territorial tanagers investigate the intruder and are caught in traps or nets. Professional trappers are able to catch up to 30 Seven-coloured Tanagers in a day where the species is common. The captives are usually placed together in a cage with some fruit and despatched to market, where some may arrive injured from fights and overcrowding and with their plumage soaked by fruit pulp. Unsurprisingly, mortality may be high but most trappers seem more concerned with quantity than the quality of their product. Seven-coloured Tanagers could be purchased for just R$5 (less than US$2)in October 2000 (LFS and FO pers.obs.).

    "We observed a large number of homes with caged native birds...." Catching wild birds, including Seven-coloured Tanagers, is common€throughout north-east Brazil. Because of the growing rarity of this beauty, and "most passerines," " 'new' bird species are being caught to supply the demand" for caged birds. "Most die within a few months because most owners do not know how to care for them....

    "Seven-coloured Tanager was considered threatened (Endangered) in the most recent global assessment...."*

    Our birds meet similar conditions throughout Latin America. These conditions, based on unrestricted greed in many countries, were prohibited and regulated in the United States during the early 20th Century. We share our treasures with these neighbors every winter. See The Latin Connection for organizations that help.

    More Information on Migration...

    * Source: Cotinga 20 (Autumn 2003)
    Notes on the Seven-coloured Tanager Tangara fastuosa in north-east Brazil.
    Luís Fábio Silveira, Fábio Olmos, Sônia Aline Roda and Adrian J. Long.
    Cotinga 20 (Autumn 2003): 82-88

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