Video: First courtship video of rare birds

msnbc.com
updated 4/10/2007 3:58:08 PM ET 2007-04-10T19:58:08

Aiming to draw attention to the plight of an endangered hummingbird, a conservation group has released the first ever video showing the odd-looking bird during its courtship display.

“This is a truly magnificent display by a really spectacular bird. To lose this threatened species would be a tragedy,” said Mike Parr, vice president of American Bird Conservancy, which released the video of the Marvelous Spatuletail, a species that lives in the mountains of northern Peru.

“The Marvelous Spatuletail is the focus of conservation efforts including reforestation projects and the creation of a conservation easement in northern Peru, a region which is rapidly becoming a hotspot for birding in South America,” Parr added.

Just how many of the birds are left is unknown, but the species in 2000 was listed as "endangered" by the World Conservation Union because experts believe the population is declining due to habitat loss by farming and logging.

The group said the species is unique among hummingbirds in that it has only four tail feathers.

"The tail of the adult male is more than twice as long as its body and ends in two great spoon-shaped ‘spatules’ that radiate a metallic, purplish gloss," the group said in a statement. "The males compete for females by whirling their long tails around their bodies in an amazing courtship display, which had previously only been witnessed by a few ornithologists and had never been filmed. This display is considered to be one of the most bizarre in the bird world — the males repeatedly attack each other in the air, contorting their bodies and tails into strange shapes at incredible speed."

"This is perhaps the most visually spectacular and specialized hummingbird in the world," added international nature videographer Greg Homel, who shot the video.  "It’s a bird that has long been desired to be seen by many."

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