October 4, 2012

More people have climbed Everest & visited space than have seen this amazing creature. ~ Jeremy Hance

Photo: Mike Parr

The Holy Grail of Birds.

Few people have ever laid eyes on the Junin rail (Laterallus tuerosi).

Located in a single lake in Peru, the well-camouflaged bird hides by spending most of its time deep in marshes to avoid predators. This behavior has also allowed it to largely avoid human onlookers, making it one of the world’s most difficult birds to observe.

Photo: Mike Parr

“More people have climbed Everest and visited space than have seen this amazing creature. For me, this event was equivalent in ornithological terms to finding the Holy Grail. Frankly, I never expected to see this bird in my lifetime, let alone photograph it,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy (ABC), who recently photographed the Junin rail in a statement, adding that, “This gives us real hope that this endangered species can continue to survive.”

Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Junin rail is imperiled by habitat loss, pollution, a nearby dam and invasive trout which may be depleting native prey for the Junin rail.

This particular Junin rail was discovered by using tape playback. It was banded, photographed and released safely.

Junin Lake is also the only home for the Critically Endangered Junin grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii) and the Endangered Lake Junin giant frog (Batrachophrynus macrostomus).

Junin rail habitat. Photo: Mike Parr

Adapted from “Animal photos of the day: the most elusive bird in the world?” on mongabay.com.

Mongabay.com provides news, information, and analysis on environmental issues, with a special focus on tropical rainforests. The web site features more than 70,000 photos and has a section about forests for children available in nearly 40 languages.





Editor: Edith Lazenby

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