Plantation blues

This is an image of the only known specimen of the super-rare male turquoise cotinga (Cotinga ridgwayi) ever to have been caught, banded, and released.

The bird was caught in a mist net erected by ornithologist Cagan Sekercioglu, who specialises in assessing bird populations in Costa Rica.

Interestingly, the mist net in question was strung over a coffee plantation. In a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Sekercioglu and colleagues report that the diversity of bird species found in the plantations is almost as rich as that found in nearby forests.

“These plantations get spillover species from the nearby intact rainforest,” Sekercioglu says. “That adds to the richness.”

Despite the unexpected good news, the scientists warn that overall many bird species in Costa Rica are in decline – and that, ultimately, there is no substitute for proper forest habitats.

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