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Bright New Bird Species Discovered in Peru
The Sira barbet, a species new to science.
Credit: Cornell University.

Scientists have identified a new bird species with rich scarlet markings living in the high cloud forests of Peru.

A team of four young ornithologists, all recent college graduates, made the discovery during a trip to the region in September 2008, and published their results in the July 2012 edition of The Auk, the official publication of the American Ornithologists' Union.

The small birds were spotted mostly in pairs, exploring the low canopy in search of berries and other snacks. They have black masks, white throats, and bright, blood-red markings atop their heads and spilling down the breast, along with a dusting of pale yellow.

Named the Sira barbet or Capito Fitzpatrick in official scientific parlance, the bird's habitat appears limited to a small section of the steamy, dense forests that crowd the high slopes of the eastern Andes.

Genetic data reveal the newfound species is closely related to the scarlet-banded barbet, a species it closely resembles. However, the newfound birds have even more bright-red coloring than their close cousins.

The scientists named the species for John W. Fitzpatrick, a renowned ornithologist who led field expeditions to Peru in the 1970s and 1980s, and whose work helped identify six bird species new to science. He is currently the director of Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology.

Peru has been a font of newfound species in recent years, in part because the nation is home to such remote and wild ecosystems, which can pose huge challenges for scientists trying to mount field expeditions.

Scientists recently announced the discovery of a species of colorful lizards in Peru, and an entire colony of endangered yellow-tailed monkeys that had stayed out of sight for years.

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