First photo of the Yellow Helmeted Shrike

Matt Brady / University of Texas at El Paso

A rare bird with a brilliant yellow plumage has been photographed for the first time in the tropical mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo – almost two decades after it was last seen.

Yellow Helmet Shrike (Prinopus alberti)Also known as King Albert’s Helmet Shrike, is a small bird that lives in the humid forests of the Albertine Rift Mountains in central Africa. Adults are covered in glossy black plumage with a brilliant crown of shiny, golden feathers on their heads. Their eyes are surrounded by distinctive orange tissue called wattles.

After disappearing for several years, the helmet shrike was listed as an endangered species. Searching for lost birds Partnership

Michael Harvey at the University of Texas at El Paso and his colleagues finally encountered it again during a six-week expedition to the Itumbway Mountains between December 2023 and January 2024.

The team members were wandering through the cloud forests when they stumbled upon a group of birds.

“It was a mind-blowing experience coming across these birds. We knew they could be here, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing and unique they would look in life,” Harvey said. said in a statement.

A total of 18 Helmet Shrikes were seen at three locations during the campaign. This suggests that there may be healthy populations of the birds, which are currently considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The group also spotted other species thought to be extinct during the trip, including the red-bellied squeaker frog (Arthroleptus haematogaster), last seen in the 1950s.

“There is a golden opportunity right now to protect these tropical forests, so that we lose species like the helmet shrike before we can go and study them,” Harvey said.