Believed to be extinct, the black-browed babbler was found in Indonesia some 170 years after its initial discovery, proving that the species still exists.
“When we actually got confirmation of the identification, I did a little prayer and bowed down to celebrate,” says Panji Gusti Akbar, an ornithologist and lead author of the paper describing the muted black, grey, and chestnut-brown new species. “I felt excitement, disbelief, and a lot of happiness.”
First described around 1850 by ornithologists, the single physical example of this bird from Indonesian Borneo was never seen again. Last October, two members of the bird-watching group BW Galetus ventured into the forest in South Kalimantan, caught a specimen, and took pictures. Once its identity was confirmed, the black-browed babbler was released in the forest. The next step is to study this new species and fill in the blanks since “we have zero knowledge about this bird,” says Mr. Akbar, member of Birdpacker, a bird-watching and guiding group based in East Java.