Scientists rediscover ‘extinct’ bird in Myanmar

When scientists heard the call of a Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler (above), they quickly recorded it and played the recording back, prompting one of the birds to come investigate. Photograph by Robert Tizard, WCS
When scientists heard the call of a Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler (above), they quickly recorded it and played the recording back, prompting one of the birds to come investigate. Photograph by Robert Tizard, WCS

Yangon, 8 March — Scientists surprisingly rediscovered Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler alive after it has disappeared for many years and thought to be extinct.
Reports of these scientists last week said that a bird thought to have gone the way of the dodo decades ago has been rediscovered in Myanmar.
The Jerdon’s babbler, a bird about the size of a house sparrow, was first discovered in 1862 by British naturalist T. C. Jerdon in grassy plains near Thayet Township, a city in central Myanmar. There have been no recorded spottings of the bird in 74 years.
A team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society unexpectedly discovered the bird while the group was studying other birds in a small grassland area near an abandoned agricultural research station.
The WCS found several more individuals of the bird which is one of the three subspecies of Jerdon’s babbler found throughout the river basins of South Asia. The birds used to be common in the grasslands, but agriculture and urbanization had driven it from its natural habitat, the
WCS said in a statement. “The degradation of these vast grasslands had led many to consider this subspecies of Jerdon’s Babbler extinct,” Colin Poole, director of the WCS’ regional conservation hub in Singapore, said.
He said the discovery proves that the species — and its habitat — still exists. The rediscovery was described in the recently published issue of Birding Asia, the magazine of the Oriental Bird Club, according to the WCS.
This is not the first time scientists have rediscovered a species long thought extinct. In 2009, Worcester’s buttonquail, a bird thought extinct in the Philippines, was photographed for the first time, before being sold as food at a poultry market.
Richard Thomas, a council member of the Oriental Bird Club, note that there are a few other species experts are hoping to find again, including the white-eyed river martin of Thailand, last seen in 1978, and the pink-headed duck, whose last confirmed sighting was in 1949.—GNLM

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