New Bird Discovered in 1997, Finally Identified In Indonesia

The short-winged and mottled throat bird has been identified as a new species and named the Sulawesi streaked flycatcher. Sulawesi is just one of the many islands that make up the archipelago that is the island nation of Indonesia and it was in the lowlands of Sulawesi that the bird was first spotted. Its elusive nature had led many researchers to falsely identify it as the migratory gray-streaked flycatcher that is commonly found in Thailand.

Sulawesi streaked flycatcher Bird

Sulawesi streaked flycatcher bird: DNA testing

The team said DNA testing of Muscicapa sodhii reveals it to most closely resemble Thailand’s Asian brown flycatcher (M. dauurica siamensis).

Researchers from Michigan State University, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Princeton University went to Sulawesi in both 2011 and 2012 in hopes of finding the bird. While camping near Baku Bakulu, they finally made contact with the new species near the area it was seen.

“We were lucky to be able to make the first known recording of this bird singing,” said co-author of a recent report,  Pam Rasmussen, of Michigan State University. The studies findings were recently published in the journal PLOS One. While similar to the songs of the gray-streaked flycatcher, it sings at a higher register and avoids the low note chirps of its migratory counterpart.

The world’s biodiversity

“Considering that 98 percent of the world’s birds have been described, finding a new species is quite rare,” co-author J. Berton C. Harris, from Princeton University, said in a statement following publication of the study. “And despite being a globally important avian hotspot, Sulawesi has largely gone unstudied by ornithologists.”

“The discovery of this previously unknown bird demonstrates once again how much we have yet to learn about the biodiversity of this planet and, especially, the biodiversity of the tropics,” said researcher David Wilcove. “Birds may well be the most intensively studied class of vertebrates on Earth – with millions of birdwatchers looking for them – yet scientists are still discovering new species.”

Despite only recently being identified, the researchers don’t believe the bird is nearing extinction, it’s just clever enough to avoid researchers for over a decade.

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