Excerpt from techtimes.com
Jerdon’s Babbler is a species of bird that was believed to be extinct until this species unexpectedly resurfaced in Myanmar. This brown and white bird is roughly the size of a house sparrow.
The bird was last witnessed in Myanmar during July 1941, close to the Sittaung River just outside Myitkyo. The species was re-discovered on a former agricultural station, on May 30, 2014.
Ornithologists heard the unusual call of the bird, which was recorded on audio equipment. When the sound was played back, one of the long-lost birds came into view. A two-day-long search revealed several of the birds living in the region. Researchers were able to obtain several detailed photographs of the animals and gathered blood samples from a few of the creatures.
Jerdon’s babblers were once found throughout the region and were plentiful 100 years ago. However, human development, including agriculture and settlements, destroyed much of the grassy plains on which the species depended to live, destroying populations.
“The degradation of these vast grasslands had led many to consider this subspecies of Jerdon’s Babbler extinct. This discovery not only proves that the species still exists in Myanmar but that the habitat can still be found as well,” Colin Poole, director of the Singapore chapter of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said.
The species was first discovered in January 1862 by T. C. Jerdon, a naturalist in Britain.
DNA analysis gathered from the birds will be examined, in order to see whether the animals are a true species apart from other animals. If this is the case, Jerdon’s babbler would be considered limited to Myanmar, and highly threatened due to habitat loss. That nation has more species of birds than any other country in the region. As naturalists continue to find additional varieties of the animals, that number is expected to grow.
“Our sound recordings indicate that there may be pronounced bioacoustic differences between the Myanmar subspecies and those further west, and genetic data may well confirm the distinctness of the Myanmar population,” Frank Rheindt, a member of the field team who found the birds, stated in a press release.
Currently, without genetic information, the bird is classified as a sub-species, one of three found in South Asia’s Indus, Ayeyarwady and Bhramaputra River basins.
“Future work is needed to identify remaining pockets of natural grassland and develop systems for local communities to conserve and benefit from them,” Poole said.
Re-discovery of the Jerdon’s babbler was profiled in BirdingAsia, a publication of the Oriental Bird Club.