First record of the Subtropical Pygmy

First record of the Subtropical Pygmy-Owl Glaucidiumparkeri in Colombian Andes
byOrlando A. Acevedo-Charry,Juan F. Freile& William DazaDíaz
The enigmatic Subtropical Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidiumparkeri), an uncommon and recently
described species (Robbins & Howell 1995), has few scattered recordsalong the east Andean
foothills and subtropics of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia (Hennessey et al. 2003, Freile& Castro
2013). First records of this species from Ecuador and Peru date back to the 1960s–1970s, but
confusion between the Andean Pygmy-Owl (G. jardinii) and the Least Pygmy-Owl (G.
minutissimum) resulted in it beingformally described two decades later (Robbins & Howell
Despiteextensive explorations of the Neotropics and arelative good understanding of its
biodiversity, the discovery of new species continues, especially sincethe recent exploration of
remote areas in the central and northern Andes (Carantón-Ayala &Certuche-Cubillos 2010,
Hosneret al. 2013). Andean slopes of Colombia, however, are still insufficiently known, with
new distributional records being regularly reported (Salamanet al. 2002, Freeman et al. 2011).
Yet, little information exists on the avifauna of the southern Departments of Nariño and
Putumayo, as a result of Colombian political instability (Sanchez-Cuervo& Aide 2013). Recently,
Calderón-Leytonet al. (2011) compiled bird records from ornithological surveys undertaken since
the beginning the XX century in Nariño. However, the eastern slope of the Andes of Nariño and
neighbouring Putumayo are still poorly explored (Salamanet al. 2002, Acevedo-Charry 2014).
In 2010, the regional environmental corporation of the southern Amazonia of Colombia
(Corporaciónpara el DesarrolloSostenible del Sur de la Amazonía - CORPOAMAZONIA) began
a project to find and declare Important Bird Areas (IBA) in theDepartment of
Putumayo(Devenish et al. 2009, Gutiérrez-Zamora et al. 2013).The Sibundoy valley was one of
the areas submitted as a new IBA (Acevedo-Charry 2014, Mueses-Cisneros et al. unpublished
data). Currently, Coca crop eradication near the Sibundoy valley produced land abandonment and
natural forest regenerationin the region, but recently gold miner explorations could be a new
hazard to biodiversity there (Sanchez & Aide 2013). A birdwatch and conservation workshop
aimed at building local capacity in bird observationwas carried out in 2013(Gutierrez-Zamora et
al. 2013, Acevedo-Charry 2014). After the workshop, observers of the Sibundoy valley
birdwatching club began sending photos and field notes to OAC.
On18 January 2014, WDD with other three bird watchersfrom Sibundoy valley (Brayan
Coral, Álvaro Cárdenas and Judit Jaramillo) undertook bird observations on the road between
San Francisco and Mocoa, Putumayo (01° 04’ N, 76° 48’ W, 1800 m elevation). After crossing
through two canyon sides across the basin of Río Blanco, ca.15 km east from the main road,they
observed and photographed a pygmy-owl that was tentatively identified as Andean Pygmy-Owl
(Fig. 1).The photographed bird was later identified as Subtropical Pygmy-Owl by JFFby its bold
white coronal spots, dark greyish brown head, and tail proportionately short as compared to
Andean Pygmy-owl G. jardinii, which has browner head, less prominent coronal spots, tail
proportionately longer, head proportionately bigger (Schulenberget al. 2007). Habitat and
elevation also point towards G. parkeri. The bird was perched in the subcanopy of a tree 18 m in
height. The pygmy-owl was perched quiet and remained restless for more than 5 min. Then, it
flew down the creek slope. Habitat was similar to other localities known for the species (Robbins
& Howell 1995, Freile&Castro 2013), with creek slopes ca. 45º, and forest connection until
Amazon foothills of Villagarzón and Mocoa Municipalities.
The Subtropical Pygmy-Owl is known to occurin almost20localities along the Andean
eastern slope (Robbins & Howell 1995, Hennessey et al. 2003, Walker et al. 2006, Xeno-Canto
2009, Freile& Castro 2013, Robbins et al. 2013). Even though above authors suggesting a
continuous distribution along the entire Andean foothills from northern Peru through southern
Colombia,there are no records to date from the outlying ridges of northern Peru, neither
northeastern slopes of Ecuador Andes or southeastern slopes of Colombia Andes(Fig. 2). This
record in eastern slopes of Colombian Andes, c. 200 km NE of the northernmost record in
Ecuador (Cascada San Rafael, province of Napo; Ridgely& Greenfield 2001), is not entirely
unexpected given its continuous range throughout the eastern Andes of Ecuador, with no evident
geographic barriers between the northernmost Ecuadorian records and the Sibundoy valley.Vocal
playback efforts of Andean Pygmy-Owl performed by OAC at the Sibundoy Valley produced no
results, but fieldwork did not include areas bellow 2000 m elevation (Acevedo-Charry 2014), an
altitude at which Andean and Subtropical Pygmy-Owls apparently replace each other (Robbins &
Howell 1995, Freileet al. 2012).
It seems likely that Subtropical Pygmy-Owl ranges further north in the east Andes of
Colombia, but has remained overlooked due to apparent low population density, little vocal
activity throughout the year, and the fact that its voice was poorly known until recently (Robbins
& Howell 1995).This record, along with future exploration at the Sibundoy valley and areas to
the north and south, will provide a more clear understanding of the distribution and natural
history of this poorly understood bird. It also supports future and ongoing conservation efforts in
the area. Furthermore, the natural history, habitat use, ecological interactions, population
dynamics and distribution for several owl species, including the Subtropical Pygmy-Owl, in
northern and central Andes are still lacking making it necessary to pay further attention to the
study of nocturnal birds (Freileet al. 2012).
To Sonia Charry (R.I.P), her love and careful always companies OAC explorations. We thank B.
Coral, A. Cárdenas and J. Jaramillo for their enthusiast and company to WDD, and also
forsharing their detailed field notes and let us publishes their observations. WDD took the
photograph in J. V.Pinchado’s farmland.We thank to CORPOAMAZONIA for support the
project I 06-086 1-02- 04 10-12 “Establecimiento de Áreas de Importancia para la Conservación
de las Aves AICAS en el Departamento del Putumayo. Fase II”, OAC visited the Sibundoy
valley while this project.Thanks to M. B. Robbins, N. Krabbe, D. Brinkhuizen, J. Nilsson, R.
Ahlman and F. G. Stiles for commenting on identification issues, also to B. Branoff and J. J.
Mueses-Cisneros for their comments on the manuscript.
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Addresses: Orlando Acevedo Charry*, Corporación para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Sur de la
Amazonia – CORPOAMAZONIA, Unidad Operativa Andino Amazónica, Dirección Territorial
Putumayo, Sibundoy, Putumayo, Colombia; and Grupo de Ornitología de la Universidad
Nacional – GOUN, Colección de Ornitología, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad
Nacional de Colombia; Current address:Tropical Community Ecology Lab, College of Natural
Science, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, San Juan, PR00931-3360, USA.
Juan F. Freile, Iniciativa Cuscungo, Pasaje El Moro E4-216 & Norberto Salazar, Tumbaco,
William Daza Díaz, Anthropologist – Sibundoy valley birdwatchingclub, Sibundoy, Putumayo,
(*Author correspondence: [email protected]).
Figure 1.The Subtropical Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidiumparkeri) at Sibundoy Valley, Putumayo
Department, southeast Andes of Colombia. Thephoto was taken by WDDon 18 January 2014
(01° 04’ N, 76° 48’ W, 1800 m elevation).
Figure 2. Distribution in South America ofGlaucidiumparkeri. The black dots indicate published
localities (Robbins and Howell 1995, Freile and Castro 2013, Hennessey et al. 2003, Walker et
al. 2006, Robbins et al. 2013),the gray dots are records in Xeno-Canto (XC152822, XC62899,
XC628998),and the white dot is the first record for Colombia (at Sibundoy valley, Putumayo).
Abstract: Knowledge about nocturnal birds in the Neotropics is scanty. Here, we present the
northernmost record in the Andes and the first one for Colombia of the Subtropical Pygmy-Owl
Glaucidiumparkeri. A single bird was photographed at the eastern slopes of theSibundoyValley
(01° 04’ N, 76° 48’ W, 1800 m elevation), Putumayo, Colombia. This record is not entirely
unexpected given the continuous range along the eastern Andes of Ecuador, with no evident
geographic barriers between the northernmost Ecuadorian records and the Sibundoy Valley.