Banggai Crow (Corvus unicolor) rediscovered.

by Gunnar Engblom on October 13, 2009

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Recent photos and specimens of a crow confirmed to be Critically Threatened Banggai Crow

Banggai Crow (Corvus unicolor) rediscovered. Photo: Phelippe Verbelen

Banggai Crow (Corvus unicolor) rediscovered. Photo: Phelippe Verbelen

It is fascinating that new discoveries are made in this day and age in the ornithological world. An article published today in Life Sciences as well as adiscussion on BirdForum confirms that Pamela C. Rasmussen at Michigan State University has verified that the specimens and photographs taken by local biologist Mohamad Indrawan in 2007/8 on the Indonesian island Peleng are indeed the critically threatened Banggai Crow which was lost since 1900.  It has made public and official only today, because it had to be confirmed that there was no confusion with the more common all black subspecies of Slender-billed Crow (Corvus enca).

Dr Rasmussen explains:

The morphometric analysis I did shows that all four unicolor specimens are very similar to each other, and distinctly different from enca specimens. We also showed that the two taxa differ in eye color — an important feature in Corvus. Not only did this confirm the identity of the new specimens but also the specific distinctness of Corvus unicolor, which has long been in doubt.

Mohamad Indrawan, now concentrates on conservation of the species and its habitat. He calculates the population to be around 500 birds. Maybe birding tourism could help. Anyone want to go? Kolibri Expeditions forthcoming tours will also include Asian destinations!

The original press release featured also some bio about Pamela Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, who also is assistant curator of mammalogy and ornithology at the MSU Museum, is the author of the two-volume Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Her work on uncovering the ornithological frauds of British collector Col. Richard Meinertzhagen won international attention, detailed in Nature, the May 2006 The New Yorker, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rob Ripma October 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Wow, that is a really cool story.

Wellies and waders are actually the same thing to me. Just different ways of saying the same thing. If you are ever in Indiana in late September or early October and would like to see LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrows let me know. I know lots of places that are good for them!

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