On a remarkable expedition in 2008, a team of young explorers including three Cornell graduates discovered an undescribed bird in Peru. Now named Sira Barbet, the new species graces the cover of The Auk (July 2012), and receives its formal scientific description inside. Its scientific name, Capito fitzpatricki, honors the contributions of John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab, who did pioneering work in Peru (including discovering seven new species of his own) and also helped mentor the Cornell graduates on the expedition.
Those Cornell graduates are Mike Harvey, Glenn Seeholzer, and Ben Winger; their coauthors on the Auk article include Peruvian colleague Daniel Cáceres and U.S. colleague Jason Weckstein. “Fitz’s contributions to Neotropical ornithology, and his enthusiasm for exploration, stoked our dream for the expedition,” said Winger. “He has inspired generations of young ornithologists in scientific discovery and conservation, and we are honored to name this species for him.”
The 2008 expedition was supported by Lab donors, a National Geographic Young Explorers grant, and donations to the Lab's student World Series of Birding team. In addition to the discovery of the Sira Barbet, the expedition documented 670 species and brought back 490 sound recordings for the Cornell Lab's Macaulay Library's archives.
The three-week expedition ventured into remote highlands that had never been the subject of an ornithological study before. Read a full retelling of their adventure and see photos from the expedition in Stretching the Canvas, from the Spring 2010 issue of Living Bird magazine.