Introducing The Spectacled Flowerpecker
Earlier this week an article was published in BirdingAsia, the Oriental Bird Club‘s journal, that detailed the discovery of a new species of bird scientists call the Spectacled Flowerpecker.
In the Danum Valley Conservation Area located in Sabah, Malaysia, there are awesome canopy walkways that are 250 meters above the forest floor. They were designed to allow visitors to see the forest canopy at eye level. The walkways are near the Borneo Rainforest Lodge if your thinking about going. If you have room for one more, let me know!
On June 18th, 2009 while birdwatching along these canopy walkways, Richard Webster discovered a bird he didn’t recognize feeding on some mistletoe berries. He was able to take a few photos of the bird. He later shared them with Dr. David Edwards, an ornithologist from Leeds University who has been studying birds in the area for over three years.
Soon they figured out that this was a species never before recorded from Borneo. Then after checking with museums in London, New York and Washington DC, they realized that bird hasn’t been seen anywhere else either.
“The realization that in all probability we had been watching a species unknown to science was an incredible feeling. Elation because we were on the verge of an amazing discovery, but mixed with trepidation in case it is never seen again.”
Over the next few days Webster, Edwards, and Rose Ann Rowlett found two more individuals of the unknown bird and listened to one singing. Since then there have been no more sightings of the species.
“We hope the announcement of our discovery will lead to our ultimate goal: conservation of the new species and large tracts of its habitat, which is under threat from clearance for oil palm agriculture.”
The reality is that Borneo has lost nearly half of its forests over the last fifty years primarily due to logging and clearance for palm oil plantations.
The image above shows how much forest has been lost and how much might be lost in the coming years if deforestation continues at the current rate.
Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Species Programme:
“This discovery shows once more how little is known about the diversity of life on our planet. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. It is an opportunity to increase our knowledge of nature and its functioning, explain its importance to the wider public, and most of all, undertake action to reduce the current threats in order to allow thousands of more discoveries like this one in the future.”
Read the full article that was published in BirdingAsia called ‘Spectacled Flowerpecker’: a species new to science discovered in Borneo? (PDF Link)