Black-browed Babbler Rediscovered after 180 Years

The Black-browed Babbler has been rediscovered after 180 years in Indonesia’s South Kalimantan province in October 2020.

  • The bird was first seen in the 1840s when captured in an expedition to the East Indies by Napoleon’s nephew, Charles Lucien Bonaparte and described to science, leading to the mysterious bird being named the Black-browed Babbler.
  • This bird was never seen after that.
  • However, recently, two fishermen Muhammad Suranto and Muhammad Rizky Fauzan came across a bird they couldn’t identify, captured it, took a photo, and released it back in the wild.
  • Birders and ornithologists concluded that it was indeed the Black-browed Babbler.

Ding Li Yong, of BirdLife International said “It’s sobering to think that when the black-browed babbler was last seen, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species hadn’t even been published and the now extinct passenger pigeon was still among the world’s commonest birds.”

Panji Gusti Akbar, the lead author of a paper detailing the bird’s rediscovery, said: “This sensational finding confirms that the black-browed babbler comes from south-eastern Borneo, ending the century-long confusion about its origins. We now also know what the black-browed babbler really looks like. The photographed bird showed several differences from the only known specimen, specifically the colour of the iris, bill and leg. These three parts of a bird’s body are known to lose their tint and are often artificially coloured during the taxidermy process.”

Drag the slider up or down to compare the specimen to the live bird

Photo Credits: Specimen: Wikimedia foundation; Second: M. Suranto
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