In the birdwatching equivalent of discovering the site of the city of Troy, Asia’s most missing bird has been found in Indonesia.
For 170 years, the only known specimen of the black-browed charlatan, found in Borneo, (making it the “Borneo black-browed charlatan”) was gathering dust in a natural history museum in the Netherlands.
Muhammad Suranto and Muhammad Rizky Fauzan, bird watchers from a club called BW Galetus, were curious about the identity of a very lively little gray-brown bird that hovered among the trees in South Kalimantan province to get a closer look. .
As the bird flew through the air, it had the appearance of a Horsfield babble, but the tentative identification never fitted the pair well – a hunch birders among readers will know all too well.
Sending the bird images to another member of his bird club ended with the news that the unusual bird was moving, and some with their noses on the ground, thanking God for good luck.
They went to another member of BW Galetus, then a professional ornithologist, Dr. Ding Li Yong, a conservationist at BirdLife International in Singapore.
“It took me a while to take in this thing,” Dr. Yong said to the New York Times. Once he realized that the photos were legitimate, he said: “He had a tear in his eye.”
“This is really important for Indonesian ornithology, as shocking as rediscovering the passenger pigeon or the Carolina parakeet. But this is closer to home, a bird from the part of the world where I live. “
Everyone involved in the discovery, including BW Galetus, hopes this will increase local interest in nature and wildlife, as well as generate tourist income to the region, especially in the form of bird watchers.
For Suranto and Fauzan, the discovery provided them with new jobs, as professional birding guides. Java-based birdwatching group Birdpacker hopes to launch an expedition to study the bird once COVID-19 restrictions are eased, as everything about this special bird is basically worth exploring.
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