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New bird discovered after 50 yrs

india Updated: Sep 13, 2006 01:26 IST
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Bugun Liocichla is  from Arunachal

A striking multi-colored bird has been discovered in Arunachl Pradesh, making it the first ornithological find in the country in more than half a century, experts said on Tuesday. 

The Bugun Liocichla, scientifically known as Liocichla bugunorum, a kind of babbler, was discovered in May at the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal. 

The bird — with olive and golden-yellow plumage, a black cap and flame-tipped wings — is 20 cm (8 inches) in length and named after the Bugun tribespeople who live on the sanctuary's periphery.

Professional astronomer and keen birdwatcher, Ramana Athreya, who discovered the bird said that although two Bugun Liocichlas were caught and examined at the sanctuary, both were released and no scientific specimen collected. 

"We thought the bird was just too rare for one to be killed (for scientific study)," said Ramana.

"With today's modern technology, we could gather all the information we needed to confirm it as a new species. We took feathers and photographs, and recorded the bird's song." 

Athreya wrote a paper which was circulated among foreign and Indian experts including Pamela C. Rasmussen, assistant curator of mammalogy and ornithology at Michigan State university, and author of The Ripley Guide of Birds of South Asia. 

The experts verified the Bugun Liocichlas as a new species and the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature then approved the name.

The last new bird species to be discovered in mainland India was the Rusty-throated "Mishmi" Wren-babbler Spelaeornis badeigularis in Arunachal Pradesh in 1948.

International bird conservation groups are elated.

"A priority now is to find out if other populations of this remarkable species exist elsewhere and what its habitat requirements are, so that appropriate conservation measures can be put in place," said Nigel Collar of Birdlife International.