The endangered black pheasant pigeon, with its black and orange feathers and red eyes, remained a mystery for more than a century after it was first and last spotted by researchers in 1882.
However, after 140 years, this bird was discovered for the second time.
The bird lives on rugged Fergusson Island, which covers an area of just over 500 square miles, off the southeast coast of Papua New Guinea.
A team of researchers with the National Museum of Papua New Guinea, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the American Bird Conservancy arrived in September hoping to spot the bird.
The team talked to local residents to help set up camera traps to photograph the bird. according to re:wildhelps fund these efforts.
For nearly a month, the team went without evidence of the bird. But just two days before the researchers left the island, Jordan Boersma, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and co-leader of the expedition team, “became famous” when he saw the bird survive. camera.
“After a month of searching, seeing the first photos of a pheasant-pigeon felt like finding a unicorn,” John C. Mittermeier, director of the American Bird Conservancy’s lost birds program, said in a statement. One moment you dream your whole life as a ranger and bird watcher.”
The discovery came after some members of the research team tried to find the bird in 2019 but failed to find any trace of it.
The researchers attributed their success to a local hunter, Augustin Gregory, who told them he had seen the ground-dwelling bird and heard its calls in an area of steep ridges and ravines.
The team then traveled to the island’s densely forested area, where they placed a camera on a 3,200-foot-high ridge near the river where the image was taken.
Serena Ketaloya, a ranger from Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay, said local communities were “very excited” by the news, as many people had not seen or heard of the bird until the research team arrived on the island.
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Not much is known about the black-headed pheasant-pigeon. The population of the species is uncertain, but it is listed as an endangered species International Union for Conservation of Nature🇧🇷 As of July 2021, its estimated population is between 50 and 249 birds.
Researchers suspect that the species’ population is declining due to deforestation and loss of forest habitat. According to the EDGE of Existence global conservation program🇧🇷
Conservationists hope the confirmation of the black pheasant-pigeon’s existence will give hope to other birds that have not been seen for decades. The team hopes to return to Fergusson Island to check the population of the species.
“The reason I care, and I think we should all care, is because this bird means something to local people and continues to mean something,” Boersma said. “It’s part of their legends and culture. If we lose this species, it loses its cultural significance as well as the role it plays in this fantastic ecosystem.”
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5🇧🇷
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