The Large-Billed-Reed-Warbler Rediscovered

Our amazing planet is always filled with surprises and scientists are kept busy with many new, intriguing discoveries. One such discovery was made by Professor Philip Round of Mahidol University on 27 March 2006. Whilst collecting and banding birds in Thailand the ornithologist discovered a species thought to be extinct, the Large Billed Reed Warbler.

The first recorded discovery of the Large-billed Reed-warbler was back in 1867. A single bird of the species was found in the Sutlej Valley of India. This only living specimen was the last of the species to be seen for some 140 years and many believed it to be extinct. Thus this find by Professor Round is truly remarkable, sending a ripple of excitement through the world of ornithology. As it was such a rare species very little was known about it. With the new find, however, scientists were able to study the DNA and morphology of the bird and thus it received is own classification as a unique species, Acrocepalus orinus. Whilst it shares the drab coloring of other reed-warblers, its wings are notably shorter and rounded and the beak is long. It is thought that the bird is a resident species or may be a short-distance migrant. There is still much to learn about this bird species, hence it has been classed as Data Deficient on the endangered species Red List of the World Conservation Union.

Some months following the March 2006 find of the Large-billed Reed-warbler another bird belonging to this species was discovered in Tring, England. Interestingly, this bird was found in Tring’s Natural History Museum. The specimen had, in fact, been collected way back in 1869. All this time it had been right there in a museum drawer, without anyone realizing it. With these fine discoveries, ornithologists are hoping to find more of this rare species in Bangladesh and Thailand. Researchers have set the goal of investigating were the chief population of Large-billed Reed-Warbler’s reside and if they face any particular threats.

The wonderful rediscovery of the Large-billed Reed-Warbler has certainly done much in revealing the importance of biodiversity in vital wetland habitats and how important it is that these areas be protected. It has also showed the benefits of regular monitoring and bird ringing in conservation efforts.