Scientists capture first-ever video of rare bird not seen in 140 years

Claire Reid

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Scientists capture first-ever video of rare bird not seen in 140 years

Featured Image Credit: @science-X / YouTube

A bird has been ‘rediscovered’ 140 years after it was last seen, thanks to a group of scientists who said it was like ‘finding a unicorn’.

The black-naped pheasant-pigeon last had a confirmed sighting all the way back in 1882, but has now finally been caught in video footage - which you can check out here:

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An expedition team, working as part of the aptly named Search for Lost Birds, headed to Fergusson Island in Papua New Guinea and were there for just one month before they made the ‘rediscovery’.

The team was made up of numerous collaborators including local Papua New Guineans working with the Papua New Guinea National Museum, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy.

Jordan Boersma, postdoctoral researcher at Cornell and co-leader of the expedition team, said: “When we collected the camera traps, I figured there was less than a one percent chance of getting a photo of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon.

The black-naped pheasant-pigeon hadn't been seen for 140 years. Credit: American Bird Conservancy
The black-naped pheasant-pigeon hadn't been seen for 140 years. Credit: American Bird Conservancy

“Then as I was scrolling through the photos, I was stunned by this photo of this bird walking right past our camera.”

A local hunter named Augustin Gregory from the village of Duda Ununa helped the team make a breakthrough after he claimed to have seen the bird and heard its call.

Following his advice, they set cameras up on a ridge at 3,200 feet (1000 meters) near the Kwama River above Duda Ununa - where they were finally able to snap a photo of the elusive creature.

Doka Nason, who set up the cameras, said: “When we finally found the black-naped pheasant-pigeon, it was during the final hours of the expedition. “When I saw the photos, I was incredibly excited.”

Jason Gregg, conservation biologist and a co-leader of the expedition team, added: “It wasn’t until we reached villages on the western slope of Mt. Kilkerran that we started meeting hunters who had seen and heard the pheasant-pigeon.

Credit: American Bird Conservancy
Credit: American Bird Conservancy

“We became more confident about the local name of the bird, which is ‘Auwo,’ and felt like we were getting closer to the core habitat of where the black-naped pheasant-pigeon lives.”

Little is known about the bird, but experts are hopeful the sighting could help save the bird from extinction.

Serena Ketaloya, a conservationist from Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, said the discovery had been exciting news for locals.

“The communities were very excited when they saw the survey results, because many people hadn’t seen or heard of the bird until we began our project and got the camera trap photos,” she said.

“They are now looking forward to working with us to try to protect the pheasant-pigeon.”

Topics: News, World News, extinct, Animals

Claire Reid
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