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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Hummingbird Species Found in Colombian Forest

WASHINGTON -- A new blue-and-green-throated hummingbird species has been discovered in a cloud forest in Colombia, and already needs protection from human encroachment, the experts who found the bird say.

Called the gorgeted puffleg, the new species is easily twice as big as the thumb-sized hummingbirds found in the eastern United States, measuring from 90 to 100 millimeters in length, its discoverers said Sunday.

The name comes from the iridescent emerald green and electric blue patch on the throat -- the gorge -- on males, and from tufts of white feathers at the top of the legs, a characteristic of so-called puffleg hummers.

Ornithologists Alexander Cortes-Diago and Luis Alfonso Ortega made three sightings of the hummingbird in 2005 during surveys of mountain cloud forest in the Serrania del Pinche in southwest Colombia. After the birds were seen again in 2006, photographs were sent to a zoological research museum in Germany for confirmation.

The bird's discoverers said they went to the Serrania del Pinche on a hunch: They expected to find new amphibians and new ranges for known birds, but the new hummingbird was "completely unexpected," Cortes-Diago said.