New bird discovered in Columbian mountain

A colorful new bird has been discovered in a previously unexplored Andean cloud forest, spurring efforts to protect the area, conservation groups said.

The bright-yellow and red-crowned Yariguies brush-finch was named for the indigenous tribe that once inhabited the mountainous area where it was discovered.

For conservationists the discovery of the species came at a crucial time: The government has decided to set aside 500 acres of the pristine cloud forest where the bird lives to create a national park.

"The bird was discovered in what is the last remnants of cloud forest in that region," Camila Gomez, of the Colombia conservation group ProAves, said yesterday. "There are still lots of undiscovered flora and fauna species that live in the area," reports Philadelphia Daily News.

According to Houston Chronicle, the small bird can be distinguished from its closest relative the yellow-breasted brush finch by its solid black back and the lack of white marks on its wings.

"There are about two to three new birds found in the world every year," Thomas Donegan, the British half of an Anglo-Colombian research duo who discovered the bird in January 2004, told The Associated Press on Monday. "It's a very rare event."

To access the bird's isolated habitat, Donegan and partner Blanca Huertas regularly hiked 12 hours into the nearly impenetrable jungle, depending on helicopters to drop off supplies at mountain peaks 10,000 feet above sea level.

"We first went to Yariguies about three years ago," Donegan said. "It's a huge patch of isolated forest that no one knew about, not even in Colombia."