Spectacled Flowerpecker – New Bird to Science from Borneo

by Gunnar Engblom on January 17, 2010

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A bird without a name

Spectacled Flower Pecker from Borneo. Photograph: Richard Webster of <a href=This is quite remarkable! A seemingly totally new species discovered at the well birding Borneo RainForest Lodge. Richard Webster spotted a unknown bird feeding in a mistle-toe in the canopy while walking the 250m canopy walk some 35 m above the ground. He took some pictures, which later were sent to Dr. David Edwards – a specialist at Leeds University, who realized that there are no birds in the bird collections that fits to the photos. Furthermore Edwards had studied the birds of the undergrowth in the same area extensively, why the new bird is possibly a canopy specialist.

I’ll let you enjoy the full article in David P. Edwards, Richard E. Webster, Rose Ann Rowlett. ‘Spectacled Flowerpecker’: a species new to science discovered in Borneo?. BirdingASIA 12 (2009): 38–41

Birding Asia is a great magazine for anyone interested in the birds of the region. Not only great. It is essential. And Oriental Bird Club supports a number of conservation projects. If you your not a member of Oriental Bird Club, please consider becoming one now!

I found several things remarkable with this discovery.

  • A new species found in a well birded area!
  • The description is made and letting the world know, before  the species has been scientifically described. There is no specimen – only photographs – and the discoverers have chosen to share their finding, both to alert that there may be specimens mislabeled in collections and that proper scientific collected specimen could/should be secured after proper permits have been attained.
  • If you follow standard listing rules – you can’t count it, because it still lacks a formal name. Isn’t it time birders set their own rules as a community. (Will be treating this issue in one of the last posts of the Social Media For birders Workshop.
  • With shouting out this discovery, it also shows that there is so much to discover and that the destruction of rain forest may be faster than new species can be described. Maybe this fast treatment will set a standard for other discoveries in the future. I am not saying they should not be properly collected. Only that the birders can help collect important information if the secrecy of new discoveries are avoided. I don’t think anyone would try to scoop the authors and describe the species on their own when a specimen is obtained.  That someone would look awfully silly and get the disrespect from the whole scientific community and the birders combined.
  • It’s seems to be a canopy specialist. Maybe dependant on the fruit of mistletoe.

Excellent done! And congratulations Richard Webster, David Edwards and Rose Anne Rowlett

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