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Lost bird species re-discovered in Borneo

Date: 04 March 2021 Tags: Biodiversity


A solitary black-browed babbler (Malacocincla perspicillata) was spotted and captured alive by two local residents in south-eastern Kalimantan.



This single specimen represented only the second recorded sighting of this bird species. It was sighted after 170 years.



  • A German naturalist by the name of Carl Schwaner, trekking through the dense equatorial forests of Borneo, came across this bird sometime during 1843-48.

  • The bird was obtained by two local residents after being observed several times during their daily visits to the forest. 



  • The bird is stout, with a relatively short tail and a robust bill similar to the holotype. The upper parts were rich brown, while the underparts up to the breast were greyish with fine white streaking.

  • The facial appearance of the bird was very distinct, with the crown being chestnut-brown, demarcated by a broad, black eye-stripe extending across the malars to the nape and neck-sides.



The conservation status of the species is listed in the “Data Deficient” category in the IUCN red list. IUCN says the global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as possibly extinct and known only from a single specimen.



Kalimantan is the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. It comprises 73% of the island's area. The non-Indonesian parts of Borneo are Brunei and East Malaysia.