Home Science and Nature Ornithologists Capture First-Ever Photos of Elusive Yellow-Crested Helmetshrike

Ornithologists Capture First-Ever Photos of Elusive Yellow-Crested Helmetshrike

by News7

The yellow-crested helmetshrike (Prionops alberti) is listed as a ‘lost bird’ by the American Bird Conservancy because it had not seen in nearly two decades.

The yellow-crested helmetshrike (Prionops alberti). Image credit: University of Texas at El Paso.

First described in 1933, the yellow-crested helmetshrike is a member of the bird family Vangidae.

Also known as the King Albert’s helmetshrike, this bird is unique in its black plumage and bright yellow crest.

The species is endemic to the mountains of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“The yellow-crested helmetshrike is endemic to the western slopes of the Albertine Rift of Central Africa, a region that has been largely inaccessible due to war and security issues, but that has recently become safer to visit,” said Dr. Michael Harvey, an ornithologist at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Dr. Harvey and colleagues made the discovery during a six-week expedition to the Itombwe Massif, a mountain range in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“It was a mind-blowing experience to come across these birds,” Dr. Harvey said.

“We knew they might be possible here, but I was not prepared for how spectacular and unique they would appear in life.”

The ornithologists trekked by foot for over 121 km (75 miles) through the depths of the Itombwe Massif, studying birds, amphibians and reptiles along the way.

While exploring the cloud forests on the slopes of a mountain, they stumbled upon the helmetshrike, a striking black bird with a bright yellow ‘helmet.’

“These birds appeared as rather noisy and active groups in the midstory of the forest,” they said.

In total, about 18 birds were found at three sites during the expedition.

“This inspires hope that perhaps the species still has a reasonably healthy population in the remote forests of the region,” Dr. Harvey said.

“But mining and logging as well as the clearing of forests for agriculture are making inroads deep into the forests of the Itombwe range.”

“We are in discussions with other researchers and conservation organizations to further efforts to protect the region’s forests and the helmetshrike.”

“Right now is a golden opportunity to protect these tropical forests, so that we don’t lose species like the helmetshrike before they are known and studied.”

Source : Breaking Science News

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