Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 32 of 51

31 May 2017 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community the mountain peaks. Not only are these forests critically important for these and other birds, but they also matter to people. Communities have traditionally depended on these forests for fuel and construction mate- rials, medicinal plants, and, most im- portantly, water. Moss that grows on the ground in the forest shade helps capture and hold water during the rainy season. The forests slowly release that stored water during drier seasons, providing local farmers with a year-round supply for drinking and agriculture. As climate change melts local glaciers and changes thick, gnarled trunks covered with red flaky bark—the general impres- sion being of the treelike Ent charac- ters in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings. These woodlands harbor a unique community of forest birds that depend entirely on this habi- tat. The Royal Cinclodes is the rarest of the birds here. Critically Endangered, it numbers roughly 230–280 individu- als, all of which are found in Peru and Bolivia. The largest population of these birds—about 150 in all—survives in the Vilcanota range. Also found here are the Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, a spritely endangered fly- catcher with an oversized pied crest, and the White-browed Tit-Spinetail, also en- dangered and endemic to southern Peru. Other charismatic habitat specialists in- clude Tit-like Dacnis, Giant Conebill, Thick-billed Siskin, and Stripe-headed Antpitta. Andean Condors can some- times be seen soaring overhead among n RIGHT: Polylepis trees have scaly gnarled bark and small serrated leaves, evoking fairly-tale settings. Many Polylepis species are them- selves endangered. Photo © Mike Parr n BELOW: Restoration efforts are achieved by and for local indigenous communities that dress in traditional colorful clothing. Photo © Phillip Tanimoto

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