New York: Scientists have discovered a new species of bird with distinct plumage and a loud call living not in some remote jungle, but hiding in plain sight in the large populous city of Phnom Penh. (Agencies)
Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), BirdLife International, and other groups found the previously un-described species in Cambodia's urbanised capital Phnom Penh and several other locations just outside of the city including a construction site.
The bird named tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), it is one of only two bird species found solely in Cambodia. The other, the Cambodian laughingthrush, is restricted to the remote Cardamom Mountains.
The newly discovered wren-sized gray bird with a rufous cap and black throat lives in dense, humid lowland scrub in Phnom Penh and other sites in the floodplain.
Its scientific name 'chaktomuk' is an old Khmer word meaning four-faces, perfectly describing where the bird is found: the area centered in Phnom Penh where the Tonle Sap,
Mekong and Bassac Rivers come together.
Only tiny fragments of floodplain scrub remain in Phnom Penh, but larger areas persist just outside the city limits where the Cambodian Tailorbird is abundant.
Lead author Simon Mahood of WCS began investigating the new species when co-author Ashish John, also of WCS, took photographs of what was first thought to be a similar, coastal species of tailorbird at a construction site on the edge of Phnom Penh.
The bird in the photographs initially defied identification. Further investigation revealed that it was an entirely unknown species.
"The modern discovery of an un-described bird species within the limits of a large populous city - not to mention 30 minutes from my home - is extraordinary," said Mahood.
"The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations," Mahood said.
"This discovery is one of several from Indochina in recent years, underscoring the region's global importance for bird conservation," said Colin Poole, Director of WCS Singapore and a co-author of the study.
"Asia contains a spectacular concentration of bird life, but is also under sharply increasing threats ranging from large scale development projects to illegal hunting. Further work is needed to better understand the distribution and ecology of this exciting newly described species to determine its conservation needs," said Steve Zack, WCS Coordinator of Bird Conservation.
The authors, in the journal Forktail, say that the bird's habitat is declining and recommend that the species is classified as Near Threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.
New York: Scientists have discovered a new species of bird with distinct plumage and a loud call living not in some remote jungle, but hiding in plain sight in the large populous city of Phnom Penh.