US researchers jubilant after rediscovering a bird lost to science for 140 years in Papua New Guinea
- Scientists from the American Bird Conservancy have rediscovered a rare bird not documented since 1882.
- Researchers installed camera traps and said getting images of the bird was like "finding a unicorn."
Scientists from the American Bird Conservancy have rediscovered a rare pheasant pigeon that has not been documented for nearly 140 years.
Researchers installed camera traps on Fergusson Island, Papua New Guinea, with the results showing the rare black-naped pheasant-pigeon strutting in the images.
According to the American Bird Conservancy, the pheasant-pigeon is "a large, ground-dwelling pigeon" with a "broad and laterally compressed tail" and only lives on the island off the east coast of Papua New Guinea.
The photos and videos of the bird are the first time it has been scientifically documented since 1882.
Seeing the images was like "finding a unicorn," said John C. Mittermeier, Director of the Lost Birds program at the American Bird Conservancy and co-leader of the expedition. "It is the kind of moment you dream about your entire life as a conservationist and birdwatcher," he added.
Jordan Boersma, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University and co-leader of the expedition team, said that he was "stunned by this photo of this bird walking right past our camera," saying that when the cameras were set out, he figured there was less than a one-percent chance of getting a photo of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon."
Christina Biggs, Manager for the Search for Lost Species at Re:wild, said, "This rediscovery is an incredible beacon of hope for other birds that have been lost for a half-century or more."
Roger Safford, Senior Program Manager for Preventing Extinctions at BirdLife International, said, "as well as giving hope for searches for other lost species, the detailed information collected by the team has provided a basis for conservation of this extremely rare bird, which must indeed be highly threatened, together with the other unique species of Fergusson Island."
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