Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another New Bird Species for 2009

The December issue of the Oriental Bird Club bulletin BirdingASIA has added a potential new species to the known birds of the world (see the other birds described in 2009 here). In June of 2009 (how's that for turnaround time?), two birders and tour leaders for Field Guides found a flowerpecker species (Dicaeidae) feeding on fruiting mistletoe above the rainforest canopy walkway at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. It was unknown to them and the ornithologists working in this large primary forest. In sightings over several days, they took pictures of at least two individuals feeding on the mistletoe and heard one sing (too briefly to get a recording). Then they were gone, and the strange flowerpeckers haven't been relocated by the time of publication.

I have no experience or knowledge of flowerpeckers, so I can't comment on this birds' distinctiveness. The authors knew it was something different though, and ended up combing through the literature and 25,000 museum specimens comparing the photos to every possible look-alike, including little-known juveniles of all the flowerpecker species. Nothing matches. The authors speculate that the bird must be a canopy specialist to have avoided previous discovery in a well birder and surveyed area.

With no specimen in hand, a new species cannot be formally described. Instead, the authors gave it the label 'Spectacled Flowerpecker' and published their findings, ending with a plea to birders and ornithologists to help search for this species.

For more information and photos of the new bird, check out the paper, linked below.


David P. Edwards, Richard E. Webster, and Rose Ann Rowlett (2009) 'Spectacled Flowerpecker': a species new to science discovered in Borneo? BirdingASIA 12:38-41. PDF

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