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New bird species from Arunachal confirmed

There are only 14 bird of the species - Bugun Liocichla - left.

October 23, 2006

Olive and golden-yellow plumage, a black cap, flame-tipped wings and eight inches long. Striking isn’t it? Birdwatchers in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh also found it striking. This multicolored avian wonder has been discovered in making it the first ornithological find in the country in more than half a century.

The Bugun Liocichla aka Liocichla bugunorumin scientific terminology has been identified as a babbler, and has been discovered the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. According to experts, the bird gets its name after the Bugun tribes men who have made Arunachal’s hills their home.

Bugun Liocichla’s plumage sports various shades of olive and is topped up with a black cap, bright yellow patch in front of the eye, golden-yellow, crimson, black and white patches on the wing, and red-tipped tail feathers which are flame-colored on the underside.

Ramana Athreya, a professional astronomer and keen birdwatcher, who first discovered the species in May this year the bird had written a description which was circulated among experts, and that is how the news of the new discovery has come out months after it happened.

The last new bird species to be discovered in India was the Rusty-throated “Mishmi” Wren-babbler Spelaeornis badeigularis in Arunachal Pradesh in 1948. Accrding to expert reports, the known population of the Bugun Liocichla consists of only 14, including three breeding pairs.

The discovery has been heralded as astonishing both because birdwatchers have studied the wildlife sanctuary for more than a century and because the Bugun liocichla species has no known relatives in the area.

According to the Wikipedia, all sightings of the species are at an altitude of 2000 metres on disturbed hillsides covered with shrubs and small trees, with the exception of one sighting on the edge of primary forest. Small flocks are observed during January, whereas pairs were observed in May, with an estimated total of 14 individuals. It is thought that pairs may hold and defend territories. The Bugun Liocichla is only currently known from just one location. Populations may be discovered in other areas of Arunachal Pradesh or neighbouring Bhutan, say the Wikipedia studies.


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