It's not often that animals thought to be extinct are rediscovered, but you can put the Jerdon's babbler (Chrysomma altirostre) on that short list. The small bird, last spotted in the grasslands of Myitkyo, Bago Region near the Sittaung River in 1941, was recently rediscovered by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Myanmar's Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division—MOECAF, and National University of Singapore (NUS).
The team was surveying an abandoned agricultural station in Myanmar when they heard the bird's elusive call. After they played the call back, a babbler paid the scientists a visit. For the next two days, the team found several of the birds hanging out in the area. The scientists took blood samples and photographs; the findings were published in the magazine, Birding Asia.
The Jerdon's babbler was first described in 1862 by British naturalist T. C. Jerdon. They were common in the grasslands of Ayeyarwady and Yangon until agriculture and civilization replaced the undeveloped land. It's believed that this change of environment led to the "extinction" of the bird due to the lack of habitat.
The Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science will be doing extensive DNA research to see if the Jerdon's babblers in Myanmar should be considered a full species (rather than a subspecies). If so, the birds will be considered of very high conservation concern.
"Our sound recordings indicate that there may be pronounced bioacoustic differences between the Myanmar subspecies and those further west, and genetic data may well confirm the distinctness of the Myanmar population," said Frank Rheindt, field team member and leader of the genetic analysis.