A bird in the hand ...
is easier to identify
Lost cuckoo breaks its silence
Unusual call of rare Sumatran ground cuckoo recorded for first time
NEW YORK (February 20, 2007) – A team of biologists with the New
York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have recorded for the
first time the call of the extremely rare Sumatran ground cuckoo, found
only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
The bird was captured by a trapper and handed over to WCS biologists,
who recorded the bird’s call while it nursed an injured foot. Once
fully recovered, the bird will be released back into the wild.
Known only by a handful of specimens collected over the past century,
the Sumatran ground cuckoo is considered to be one of the world’s
rarest, most secretive birds, and is restricted to Sumatra’s deep
jungles and rainforests. In fact, ornithologists believed the bird was
extinct until 1997, when a single individual was briefly seen. Last
year a second bird was photographed by a remote camera trap. It is now
believed to be critically endangered. Until now, however, no
one knew the bird’s call – a key field diagnostic ornithologists use to
identify birds that live in forest. According to WCS, having a
recording of the bird’s call will also make it easier for biologists to
locate other individuals, and to possibly evaluate the bird’s total
"We were extremely lucky to have recorded the bird’s unique call," said
Firdaus Rahman, of WCS’s Indonesia Program. "Our team will use the
recording to hopefully locate other Sumatran ground cuckoos, and to
eventually secure their protection."
The recoded call can best be described as a pair of sharp screams. It
is unknown at this point whether the bird has additional vocalizations.
Sumatran ground cuckoos are relatively large birds (half a meter long)
with long tails. It has green plumage with a black crown and green
bill, and striking blue facial markings.
The Wildlife Conservation Society operates a field conservation
projects throughout Indonesia, and works with local partners to
safeguard this archipelago’s amazing wildlife, many of which are found
nowhere else on earth.
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