There's been a fair bit on the gurney's pitta in the web news over the
last day or so. This site has a few nice pix - the jizz of the
pictured birds seems to be a bit different to our regulars, and their
footy jersey coloured plumages are fascinating.
Burma rediscovers vanished bird
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent
Bird-lovers are celebrating the rediscovery in Burma of a bird last
seen there almost 90 years ago.
Throughout our work we could hear the constant whine of chainsaws, and
everywhere we saw patches of recently burned forest
Jonathan Eames, BirdLife International
The bird is the Gurney's pitta, a strikingly coloured species described
as "teetering on the brink of extinction".
The only other known survivors are about 30 birds living in a small
part of southern Thailand.
The long-term prospects of the Burmese group are clouded by forest
The pittas were spotted by a team of conservationists from the Bird
Enthusiasts and Nature Conservation Association, a Burmese group, the
forest department of Burma (now known as Myanmar), and BirdLife
They found pittas at four lowland forest sites, with a maximum of 10-12
pairs at one of them. The last confirmed sighting of Gurney's pitta in
Burma was in 1914.
So far so good
The team could not travel everywhere it wanted, and believes there may
be significantly more pittas living in unexplored parts of the forest.
The species is listed by IUCN-The World Conservation Union as
critically endangered, the highest category of conservation concern.
Dr Michael Rands, the director of BirdLife, said: "The rediscovery of
Gurney's pitta in Burma is tremendously exciting and potentially
important, but we must not be complacent.
"There was always hope that another population existed there, but it is
crucial that fulfilling that hope doesn't in any way weaken or
compromise the determination to save the species at the site in
The birds in Burma are said to be increasingly threatened by the rapid
clearance of the forest to make way for oil palm plantations.
Jonathan Eames of BirdLife International in Indochina was a member of
the team which found them after a month of survey work.
He said: "Throughout our work we could hear the constant whine of
chainsaws, and everywhere we saw patches of recently burned forest.
"Flat lowland forest is being rapidly cleared from the region... The
extent and scale of the forest clearances are clearly visible from
"They pose a significant threat to the survival of this spectacular
BirdLife's priorities are to identify the largest remaining areas of
suitable lowland forest and to work with the Burmese authorities on a
It will also continue working with Thailand to protect its pittas,
which ornithologists recorded again in 1986 after a 50-year gap.
The species disappeared from scientific view for so long because, in
Burma's case, no-one could go in search of it.
In Thailand, the pitta resurfaced only after satellite surveys
identified the patches of forest where it was likeliest to be living.
But there was clearly a continuing low-level trade in the species
throughout the long years of its presumed extinction: one pitta escaped
from a private collector in Gravesend, near London, in the 1970s, and
disappeared from view.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2003/06/03 00:20:25 GMT
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)