Did you ever wonder if other people really see the same colors you see? Red could look different to you, but in human communication your experience of this wavelength of light is tagged "red". Scientists say that birds see in wavelength ranges which are not detectable by humans. That boring brown bushtit could be a birdy equivalent of lime green and orange. But that doesn't change the facts: we humans love the birds in fancy dress colors from our rainbow. In that regard, the first new species of bird to join ornithological records in more than half a century excels. Dusted in yellow, with bright yellow eye patches and flaming crimson-tipped wings, the Bugun Liocichla, sets another first which TreeHuggers will appreciate: the bird was confirmed as a new species without sacrificing (yes, that is the scientific term for killing) the rare find.The bird was discovered in May by Ramana Athreya, but news of the bird was released only recently after confirmation that it is, indeed, a new species. Officially, the Bugun Liocichla is a variety of babbler. It is 8 inches long, and is named after the Bugun tribe which live near the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in northeast India. Two of the birds were caught and examined before being released back into the wild. "We thought the bird was just too rare for one to be killed (for scientific study)," said Ramana. "With today's modern technology, we could gather all the information we needed to confirm it as a new species. We took feathers and photographs, and recorded the bird's song."
The discovery has been heralded as astonishing both because birdwatchers have studied the wildlife sanctuary for more than a century and because the Bugun liocichla species has no known relatives in the area.
The formal paper introducing the bird as a new species appears in the Indian Birds periodical. The paper is available for download (no cost).
Having narrowly escaped the traditional fate suffered by the first representative of a species that humans stumble upon, the way is not yet clear for the little Bugun birds. A planned highway could threaten the population, which is probably quite small, surmising from the fact that this species has not been described before this time. Since the sighting, the population of Bugun Liocichla has been pegged at 14, including three breeding pairs.