By Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 29 July 2009 09:00 pm ET
Scientists have discovered a rare new bird species with a bald head.
It's also the first time in over 100 years that a new Asian species of bulbul bird has been uncovered.
"To find a new bird species is very rare these days," said Peter Clyne, assistant director for Asia Programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. "It's not like we're finding new species of birds every year. This is certainly a highly newsworthy event."
The chrome-domed songbird was discovered by Wildlife Conservation Society scientists Will Duckworth and Rob Timmins and Iain Woxvold of the University of Melbourne as part of a project funded by a mining company, Minerals and Metals Group, that operates in the region.
"Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long," Woxvold said.
About the size of a thrush, the new bird has olive green feathers on its back and a light-colored breast. Its large dark eyes dominate its bald pink face.
"Whenever you come across a bird that's bald, it's a prominent characteristic," Clyne told LiveScience. "Usually, but not always, it's thought to play some kind of a role in communication between the sexes."
The researchers describe the new species, whose official name is Pycnonotus hualon, in the latest issue of the Oriental Bird Club's scientific journal Forktail.