Fifteen years ago a sharp-eyed nature lover spotted a brand new species of bird in Indonesia. It stood out, having a beautiful mottled throat, unique song, hooked beak, short tail and particularly short wings. Now, at long last, the sighting has been confirmed and it looks like we do indeed have a new bird species to marvel over: the Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher.
The world’s rainforests still have secrets to reveal
The finding illustrates how the planet’s rainforests remain an incredibly rich source of diverse creatures, many of whom remain undiscovered. And it highlights how very precious and unique these wonderful environments are.
Remote Sulawesi conceals a natural wonder
A team led by researchers from Princeton University, Michigan State University and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences confirmed the bird’s existence in the lowland forests of Sulawesi. Bearing in mind that an estimated 98% of the world’s birds have already been seen, classified and described, it’s a thrilling piece of news.
The report’s co-author J. Berton C. Harris, a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton’s Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, spotted the bird back in 1997 in a patchy remnant of ancient forest. But there was some doubt – was it actually a grey streaked flycatcher or a new species altogether? Harris and his team visited remote Central Sulawesi in 2011 and again in 2012, finally tracking down several of the unique birds living in the forest near the small town of Baku Bakulu.
Princeton Professor David Wilcove, Harris’ adviser, commented that the research revealed how important the study of biodiversity is. In his words, “The discovery of this previously unknown bird demonstrates once again how much we have yet to learn about the biodiversity of this planet and, especially, the biodiversity of the tropics,”