Scientists in Papua New Guinea captured the first-ever video of an extremely rare and endangered bird that had been lost to science for 140 years.
The highly elusive bird is called the black-naped pheasant-pigeon. It was photographed on the island of Papua New Guinea for the first time since 1882.
According to a press release, an expedition team, working as part of the Search for Lost Birds, had been looking for the lost bird on Fergusson Island for a month. They finally got lucky after setting up a remote camera trap.
The rare black-naped pheasant-pigeon is “a large, ground-dwelling pigeon” with a “broad and laterally compressed tail”, according to the American Bird Conservancy. It only lives on the island off the east coast of Papua New Guinea.
The bird is found in the primary rainforests of New Guinea and nearby islands. It ranges primarily over hilly and lower mountain areas, but can also be found in lowlands.
It has four subspecies – White-naped pheasant pigeon, Green-naped pheasant pigeon, Grey-naped pheasant pigeon, Black-naped pheasant pigeon.
The team that found the bird has made up several connections and collaborators in the region. They worked with local Papua New Guineans who work for the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy.
“When we collected the camera traps, I figured there was less than a one percent chance of getting a photo of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon,” said Jordan Boersma, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell and co-leader of the expedition team
“Then as I was scrolling through the photos, I was stunned by this photo of this bird walking right past our camera.” he added.
The breakthrough happened for the team with the help of a local hunter named Augustin Gregory. He said he has seen the pigeon and heard its call.
Following Gregory’s advice, the team set cameras up on a ridge at 3,200 feet near the Kwama River above Duda Ununa.
“When we finally found the black-naped pheasant pigeon, it was during the final hours of the expedition. “When I saw the photos, I was incredibly excited,” said Doka Nason, one of the men who set up the cameras.
As of now, little is known about the bird. But scientists are now hopeful that the sighting could prevent their extinction.