Overlooked Bird in Madagascar is New to Science
Abstract from Ibis
19th May 1996
For a very long time bird zoologists have known that Madagascar has all sorts of special birds known only from the island. They were surprised when a new bird - Rand's Warbler - was found to be fairly common in the rain-forest tree tops.
Imagine the surprise created by the discovery of another new bird in the treetops. It has a very distinctive song but is rather nondescript, rather like a small Willow Warbler with a very rounded wing, and it has been named the Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randrianasola. This commemorates the late Malagasy ornithologist Georges Randrianasola who died in 1989.
The discoverers of this new bird, Steven Goodman and Bret Whitney from the USA and Olivier Langrand from the World Wide Fund for Nature in Madagascar, were amazed to find it widely distributed through much of the eastern rainforest on the island at about 900-2100 metres asl.
Describing the bird in Ibis (138, 152-159) the journal of the British Ornithologists' Union, they were unable to find a close relative and decided that it should be not only named as a new species but given a new genus as well. It is not a rare bird, just overlooked, and they think that it is not in danger, unlike much of the wildlife on Madagascar, as the particular sort rain- forest habitat it live in is one of the few natural habitats which is not threatened.
It may be small and nondescript but there have been dozens of expeditions to look at the birds of Madagascar and it is amazing that such a widespread bird should have been overlooked. One wonders what else there is out there waiting to be found - and whether there will be a chance to save it if it is in the severely threatened local habitats.
About a dozen new birds are discovered each year and most are from South America. A new genus from the Old World is now very rarely described. Modern methods of DNA analysis will mean that many known species are split in the next few years but this is an instance of a real discovery of a new bird.