HomeScience and Nature Rare Songbird Feared Extinct Rediscovered in Madagascar

Rare Songbird Feared Extinct Rediscovered in Madagascar

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The previous documented sighting of the dusky tetraka (Xanthomixis tenebrosa) — one of the top 10 most wanted species by the Search for Lost Birds — was in 1999.

The dusky tetraka (Xanthomixis tenebrosa). Image credit: John C. Mittermeier.

The dusky tetraka is a species of Old World warbler in the family Bernieridae (tetrakas and allies).

This bird is endemic to the subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests of Madagascar.

It is dark olive-green overall, with a pale yellowish throat and ring around the eye.

Lily-Arison Rene de Roland, Madagascar Program director for the Peregrine Fund, and colleagues set out in December 2022 to search for the elusive bird.

The expedition team found the species in two different remote sites: one on the Masoala peninsula in December 2022 and another near Andapa in January 2023.

“Now that we’ve found the dusky tetraka and better understand the habitat it lives in, we can look for it in other parts of Madagascar, and learn important information about its ecology and biology,” Rene de Roland said.

“There is a lot of biodiversity still to discover in Madagascar.”

“Seeing the bird for the first time was truly a surprise. Our entire team was extremely happy and excited,” said Armand Benjara, a researcher with the Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Program.

“If dusky tetrakas always prefer areas close to rivers, this might help to explain why the species has been overlooked for so long,” added John Mittermeier, director of the Lost Birds Program at American Bird Conservancy.

“Birding in tropical forests is all about listening for bird calls and so you naturally tend to avoid spending time next to rushing rivers where you can’t hear anything.”

The dusky tetraka (Xanthomixis tenebrosa) is the second species to be rediscovered by the Search for Lost Birds. Image credit: John C. Mittermeier.

The next steps for the team will be to look for the dusky tetraka again between September and October, when most birds in Madagascar breed.

“We hope to visit additional sites that match the habitat and elevation where we saw the species in December and January to understand its distribution and conservation status,” Rene de Roland said.

“With the vast majority of the lowland rainforest in northeastern Madagascar already destroyed, it is likely that the dusky tetraka is threatened.”

“Due to the changed landscape and its cryptic nature, the searchers had to employ some resourceful detective work and impressive persistence to make the eventual rediscovery,” said Christina Biggs, lost species officer at Re:wild.

“We’re thrilled and relieved to know that this little bird is still singing in the forests of Madagascar.”

“Now comes the work to protect the spaces that the dusky tetraka inhabits, and also keep remaining wild spaces wild, so other birds don’t land on our list in the future.”

“Several species from the extraordinary island of Madagascar were until fairly recently ‘lost,’ but have been found and are now regularly seen,” said Roger Safford, senior program manager for preventing extinctions at BirdLife International.

“Dusky tetraka was the awkward exception, and it is a credit to the Peregrine Fund team that they have come up with such a thorough set of records of this mystery bird. It does seem to be genuinely rare — but now we can begin to understand why, and take the actions to make sure the forests that meet its seemingly rather precise needs are conserved.”

“Finding the dusky tetraka is fantastic news!” said Russell Thorstrom, conservation director at the Peregrine Fund.

“I’m so excited for the team for documenting this elusive species and American Bird Conservancy for providing the funding, but extremely envious.”

“I spent 7 breeding seasons between 1993 and 1999, from September to January, at Andranobe Field Station on the western side of Masoala Peninsula in northeastern Madagascar.”

“I searched frequently for the dusky tetraka while looking for nesting Madagascar serpent eagles, from sea level to 500 m elevation, but never observed this species.”

Source : Breaking Science News

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