Bird Thought to Have Gone Extinct Found 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. (PHOTO CREDIT: 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. (PHOTO CREDIT: Robert Tizard, WCS)

A bird thought to have gone the way of the dodo decades ago has been rediscovered in Myanmar (Burma), scientists reported Thursday.

A team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society stumbled upon the bird, a Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler, last May while studying other birds in a small grassland area near an abandoned agricultural research station.

Once they heard its distinctive call, the scientists quickly recorded it and played the recording back, prompting an adult Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler to come investigate. The team caught the the first known glimpse of the animal since 1941, according to a Thursday press release from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Over the next two days, the team found several more individuals of the “extinct” bird and took blood samples and high-resolution photographs.

The brown, sparrow-size bird (Chrysomma altirostre altirostre) is one of three subspecies of Jerdon’s babbler, which are found throughout the river basins of South Asia.

Diminishing Habitat
First described by British naturalist T. C. Jerdon in 1862, the last known sighting of the Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler happened near the town of Myitkyo (map), in southern Burma’s Sittaung River floodplain.

Over the past century, the area has been transformed from mostly bird-friendly grasslands to a more human-dominated landscape of settlements and farms.

“Future work is needed to identify remaining pockets of natural grassland and develop systems for local communities to conserve and benefit from them,” Colin Poole, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Regional Conservation Hub in Singapore, said in a statement.

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SOURCE: National Geographic, Christine Dell’Amore

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