Scientists estimate there are close to 10 thousand different species of birds on the planet today, and over 190 different species that have gone completely extinct since we started documenting them back in the early 1500s.
Up until just this past month, a beautiful, petite brown bird known as the Jerdon’s Babbler was on that list, as it hadn’t been seen since 1941.
That’s a long time to disappear without writing or calling, little bird.
On March 5, 2015 the Wildlife Conservation Society released the exciting news confirming that Jordan’s Babbler was not only not extinct, but alive and well and living in Mynamar.
The discovery was actually made back in May of 2014 when the team of researchers from Myanmar’s Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division and the National University of Singapore heard the birds distinct call. They employed a decades old technique that we’ve all seen in Looney Tunes cartoons and played back the call into the wilderness to try to get a response. As a result they were able to catch sight of an adult Jerdon’s babbler.
Over the next two days the team had sightings of more of the birds at multiple locations in the region, and were able to confirm it through photos and blood samples. Jerdon’s babbler was named after British naturalist T.C. Jerdon, who was the first to describe the bird back in January of 1862. He found it in the grassy plains near Thayetmyo, and the Jerdon’s babbler continues to thrive in those same conditions today.
The grasslands of the region have been developed over time, and many considered this subspecies extinct because of the degradation of their habitat. This exciting discovery proves not only that the birds still live, but that there may be other species to be found in Myanmar in unidentified pockets of natural grassland.
The WCS scientists are excited about this prospect, as they are in the midst of a study to better understand the genetics with the Myanmar bird species, and to really understand the diversity of the species of birds found in the country.