Congratulations to George Fenwick and his family are in order for several reasons. George who is the President of the American bird Conservancy, has been at the forefront of American bird conservation for many years, but that was not the only reason he was honoured. He and his family saved over 11000 acres of the habitat of the species.
That’s enough to have a bird named after him, but to me the most important thing was how the new bird was described: On 19 May 2010, it was to become the first species of bird to be described from the Americas, by an American ornithologist, from photographs and DNA alone. The antpitta had been trapped, had blood samples taken, photographed and released. European scientists have described several species in this way, but the passion for killing birds lingered far longer in the Americas.
A decade after one of the rarest birds in the world, the Jocotoco Antpitta was discovered in Ecuador, ornithologists from the Louisiana State Museum found a new, tiny population in Peru. So they promptly collected one. There was absolutely no justification for this senseless killing, and there was outrage from many conservationists. But the Louisiana State Museum journal positively gloats over its collection.
But perhaps the description of Fenwick’s Antpitta is setting a new standard for American ornithology; I certainly hope so as it is long overdue.
The newsletter account of the killing of the antpitta for 'science' http://appl003.lsu.edu/natsci/lmns.nsf/$Content/Newsletters/$File/2006+-+November.pdf
For more information on the Jocotoco Antpitta, visit the World Land Trust's Antpitta webpage