Large-billed reedwarbler found in Thailand

Published: Sunday 15 April 2007

-- (Credit: PHILIP ROUND / THE WETLAND TRU)A wetland bird that has eluded ornithologists for nearly 140 years has been seen in Thailand. The large-billed reed-warbler (Acrocephalus orinus) was spotted by ornithologist Philip Round of Mahidol University, Bangkok, near a wastewater treatment plant, notes a recent announcement by Bird-Life International, a uk- based conservation group.

A single bird of the species was last spotted in the Sutlej valley in Himachal Pradesh in 1867. But due to its rarity, scientists had long debated if the bird represented a true species or was a variation of a common species.

"So little is known about the species that it is officially classified on the iucn Red List as 'data deficient'," says Jules Howard of BirdLife International. "Round's findings could thus be confirmed recently only after Staffan Bensche of Sweden's Lund University, who had examined the Indian specimen, analysed its photos and dna tests."

Previously, Bensche had confirmed another specimen of the bird that was found in a collection of the Natural History Museum in England using dna tests. The specimen was caught in 1869 in Uttar Pradesh. Following these two findings, bird experts are now hopeful that additional large-billed reed-warblers may be found in Myanmar, Bangladesh or other parts of Thailand.

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