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Home to distinct birds

A new study by University of British Columbia researchers has found that Haida Gwaii's population of northern goshawks are the last remnant of a highly distinct genetic cluster of the birds.

Researchers estimate the population of birds may have been evolving separately on Haida Gwaii for 20,000 years.

Armando Geraldes, who co-led the study, says apart from having a different genome, these birds also look different — they are darker in colour than other goshawks.

Only 50 of these raptors are left on the archipelago.

Geraldes says goshawks nest in large, old growth forests so one of the concerns is loss of habitat from logging.

Senior author on the paper Darren Irwin says the animals fill an important ecological role as top predator.

Irwin says their health reflects the health of the forest.



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