The bird protection group Groupe d’Étude et de Protection des Oiseaux en Guyane (GEPOG) recently discovered a bird species that had never been seen in French Guiana, the “guacharo des cavernes,” known in English as the oilbird (Steatornis caripensis).
The guácharo or oilbird is the only nocturnal fruit eating bird in the world (feeding mostly on tropical laurels and the fruit of the oil palm, hence the name “oilbird”). Guácharos are also unique in that they navigate by echolocation. They live in forests and woodlands with caves, where they breed. Although this bird was once heavily hunted in Peru and neighboring countries, the species is now fully protected in most of the countries where it is found.
The discovery of the bird in French Guiana is interesting because it is over 1,000 away from the areas with known guácharo populations: They are usually found in the northern areas of South America in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana Peru, and Venezuela, as well as in Trinidad and Tobago. Because the specimen (captured accidentally while studying bats) showed signs of nesting, specialists believe that this species may be living and reproducing in French Guiana. Further research is being carried out.
According to GEPOG, this discovery demonstrates that the biodiversity of French Guiana is still largely unknown and that efforts for more awareness in the country must continue.
For original article (in French), see http://www.blada.com/data/File/2011pdf/guacharo112011.pdf and http://www.gepog.org/Actualit%C3%A9s/Une-nouvelle-esp%C3%A8ce-pour-la-Guyane
Photo and more information from http://www.tropicalbirds.com/oilbird.php