A beautiful little warbler inhabiting limestone karsts in Vietnam and Laos has been named a new species. When the limestone leaf warbler ( Phylloscopus calciatilis) was first sighted in 1994 it was thought to be a member of the similar-looking species, the sulphur-breasted warbler, but ornithologists began to question that assumption when the bird produced a call significantly different from the sulphur-breasted’s.
On closer inspection, researchers found that the limestone leaf warbler has shorter wings and a larger bill proportionately than the sulpher breasted warbler’s. Olive-green with a yellow breast and striped crown, the new species is fully described in the most recent issue of the journal Ibis.
“The discovery of this new species is very exciting and underscores the importance of this region of Indochina for conservation,” said Colin Poole, Executive Director of the Asia Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in a press release.
The limestone leaf warbler ( Phylloscopus calciatilis). Photo courtesy of WCS.
While the bird is thought to be common in its preferred habitat, the forests that the bird depends on are threatened by clearing for subsistence agriculture and wood collection. Practices which threaten other recently discovered species.
“With increased attention from biologists, the Annamite mountain range of Laos in particular is revealing itself as a Lost World for new and unusual wildlife,” said Poole.
The bare-faced bulbul, a new and particularly strange bird, was discovered from the same region earlier just this year. The bare-faced bulbul (the first bulbul discovered in Asia in a century) is Asia’s only bald songbird.
In 2002, the same region revealed a species of rodent, called the kha-nyou or Laotian rock rat, which is the last representative of an entirely extinct family. Discovered by Robert Timmins of the WCS, it is considered Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
In 1999, Timmins also discovered the Annamite striped rabbit in the same area, which remains largely a mystery to biologists although it is commonly hunted.
The limestone warbler was discovered by a team of scientists from WCS, Lao PDR Department of Forestry, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Swedish Museum of Natural History, and BirdLife International.
Citation:Description of a new species of Phylloscopus warbler from Vietnam and Laos. Per Alstro, Pete Davidson, J.W. Duckworth, Jonathan C. Eames, Trai Trong Le, Cu Nguyen, Urban Olsson, Craig Robson, and Rob Timmins. Ibis (2010), 152, 145–168.
Photo: First bald Asian songbird discovered
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