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Ornithology: Three months after Bhutan added a new bird species, two new species - the Beautiful Sibia (Heterophasia pulchella) and Brown Accentor (Prunella fulvescens) were recorded into Bhutan’s ornithology list, taking the total count of species to 695.

Two new birds discovered

Ornithology: Three months after Bhutan added a new bird species, two new species – the Beautiful Sibia (Heterophasia pulchella) and Brown Accentor (Prunella fulvescens) were recorded into Bhutan’s ornithology list, taking the total count of species to 695.

In May, forester Sherab Jamtsho who is pursuing BSc forestry at the college of natural resources in Lobesa discovered the Beautiful Sibia. Jigme Dorji National Park forester, Phub Dorji discovered Brown Accentor from Shaba in Paro on March 29.

Ugyen Wangchuck institute for conservation and environment (UWICE) ornithologist, Sherub authenticated both Beautiful Sibia and Brown Accentor as new discoveries.

“Both the birds were new finds in Bhutan,” Sherub said.

Phub Dorji said Brown Accentor was spotted on the bank of Pa Chhu River on a rough road, snaking to an archery range in Shaba.

“I would like to dedicate the discovery of Brown Accentor to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo,” Phub Dorji said.

Brown Accentor was to date recorded in India, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The black-billed brown eye bird measures around 15 cm and weighs over 20 grams. The Brown Accentor has brown dorsal with grey-brownish neck and mantle.

It has dark chocolate brown tail, flight feathers and coverts. The tips of the median and greater wing coverts have little white spots. Brown Accentor is insectivorous (feeds on insects) in summer while from late autumn, it turns herbivorous and feeds on fir nut lets.

Sherab Jamtsho wrote to UWICE that the discovery of Beautiful Sibia would make Bhutan’s bird biodiversity richer.

“Initially, I didn’t think the bird to be a new discovery but a confirmation from Sherub verified it,” a bird enthusiast and amateur photographer Sherab Jamtsho said.

Beautiful Sibia was discovered from Martshala in Samdrupjongkhar.

“It was sighted around my village where it was feeding on a chestnut (Castanopsis indica) tree in Kepthang, Martshala,” Sherab Jamtsho said.

Beautiful Sibia is found in subtropical or humid tropical forest. The distinctive features of the bird are its blue-grey crown, slaty-grey upper parts and pinkish tinge ventral parts, chestnut-brown tertials and broad black ear coverts.

As per established ornithology records, Beautiful Sibia belongs to Leiothrichidae family. Until now, the bird was recorded only in China, India, and Myanmar.

“Its discovery in Bhutan is also a discovery of its new distribution range in The Himalayas,” Sherub said.

He said more bird species could still be discovered since the first field guidebook, “Birds of Bhutan” by Inskipps et al recorded 616 species. The field guidebook “Birds of Bhutan” was first published in 1999.

Since then, 79 new species have been discovered mostly by Bhutanese and visiting tourists.

Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang

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One comment

  1. Kudos to the Bhutanese bird enthusiasts for discovering the new species of birds within Bhutanese borders. I also feel there could be some new species that are yet to be recognized in Bhutan.

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