The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jeff Miller, (510) 499-9185

Two Rare Ecuadorian Bird Species Given U.S. Endangered Status, Including One of Darwin's Finches


In response to decades-old listing petitions and a series of lawsuits
by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service today designated two rare South American bird species as
endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act: the black-breasted puffleg, a hummingbird native to
Ecuador, and the medium tree finch, one of the famous Galapagos
Islands finches studied by Charles Darwin.

A campaign to protect scores of the world's most imperiled bird
species began in the 1980s, when worried ornithologists began submitting
Endangered Species Act petitions to protect more than 70 international
bird species. Although the Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that
most of the species warranted listing by 1994, it illegally delayed
responding to the petitions. Center for Biological Diversity lawsuits in
2004 and 2006 jumpstarted the foreign-species listing program, and the
Service determined that more than 50 of the bird species warranted
listing. So far the Service has listed 14 of the bird species as
endangered or threatened and proposed listing for 28 more.

Listing international species under the U.S. Endangered
Species Act restricts buying and selling of imperiled wildlife,
increases conservation funding and attention, and can add scrutiny to
development projects proposed by U.S. government and multilateral
lending agencies such as the World Bank that would destroy or alter
their habitat.

The medium tree finch (Camarhynchus pauper) is
endemic to the island of Floreana in the Galapagos, where it inhabits
moist highland forests. It is one of the 14 species of Darwin's finches,
collectively named in recognition of Charles Darwin's work on the
theory of evolution. The species is threatened by habitat loss and
degradation due to agriculture and ranching, and habitat alteration and
predation by introduced species.

The black-breasted puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis)
inhabits humid temperate and elfin forests in Ecuador, and is named for
its distinctive white leg plumage. The single puffleg population has
declined by more than 50 percent the past 12 years, and fewer than 250
pufflegs are known to remain. The species is threatened by habitat loss
and destruction due to deforestation for agriculture and grazing, oil
development and road development.

Read about the Center's International Birds Initiative.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252