Chilean Woodstar: A Species Clings to Life in an Otherworldly Landscape

By Dan Lebbin

Departing the city of Arica, Chile, during predawn hours, Bojana Kuzimicic picks me up in a Suburu Forester SUV and we drive out into the desert. Our first destination is Taltape, in the Camarones Valley, a two hours’ drive south of Arica.

This desert, the Atacama, looks very much like images sent back to Earth from robots roving the surface of Mars. Not a single plant is visible among the soft sandy plains and mountains dotted with rocks, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions. The color palate is otherworldly as well, featuring grays, taupes, and orange-reds. The highway and bright blue sky serve as reminders that we are still on Earth.

Bojana is a graduate student at the University of Chile, working with Cristian Estades and bird conservation group AvesChile to study and conserve the Chilean Woodstar, perhaps Chile’s most threatened bird. ABC is supporting this work thanks to a grant from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund…

(read more: American Bird Conservancy)

photos by Dan Lebbin

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