July 30, 2009

Scientists Find First Bald Bird In Asia

Scientists have discovered a songbird with a bald head - the first of a new species of songbirds in Asia.

Writing in the July issue of the Oriental Bird Club's journal Forktail, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Melbourne say the "Bare-faced Bulbul" is the first new species of bulbul to be discovered in Asia in more than 100 years.

Scientists describe the bird as greenish-olive with a light-colored breast, distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill.

"It's always exciting to discover a new species, but this one is especially unique because it is the only bald songbird in Asia," said Colin Poole, director of Asia programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"The discovery also underscores how much there is still to learn from wild places around the world."

The bare-faced bulbul primarily dwells in trees in a lightly forested region on limestone karsts.

"Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long," said Iain Woxvold of the University of Melbourne.

The limestone karsts are one of the world's least studied environments. Scientists said that quarrying of limestone poses a potential risk to wildlife in the region.


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