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Hiding in plain sight: New species of bird discovered in capital city

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Posted June 26, 2013
A male Cambodian tailorbird, a bird only recently discovered by scientists withing the city limits of Phnom Penh. Credit: Ashish John/WCS

A male Cambodian tailorbird, a bird only recently discovered by scientists withing the city limits of Phnom Penh. Credit: Ashish John/WCS

A team of scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society, BirdLife International, and other groups have discovered a new species of bird with distinct plumage and a loud call living not in some remote jungle, but in a capital city of 1.5 million people.

Called the Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), the previously undescribed species was found in Cambodia’s urbanized capitol Phnom Penh and several other locations just outside of the city including a construction site. It is one of only two bird species found solely in Cambodia. The other, the Cambodian laughingthrush, is restricted to the remote Cardamom Mountains.

Scientists describe the new bird in a special online early-view issue of the Oriental Bird Club’s journal Forktail. Authors include: Simon Mahood, Ashish John, Hong Chamnan, and Colin Poole of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Jonathan Eames of BirdLife International; Carl Oliveros and Robert Moyle of University of Kansas; Fred Sheldon of Louisiana State University; and Howie Nielsen of the Sam Veasna Centre.

The wren-sized gray bird with a rufous cap and black throat lives in dense, humid lowland scrub in Phnom Penh and other sites in the floodplain. Its scientific name ‘chaktomuk‘ is an old Khmer word meaning four-faces, perfectly describing where the bird is found: the area centered in Phnom Penh where the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac Rivers come together.

Read more at: Phys.org

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