Scientists Capture First-Ever Video Of “Lost” Bird That Hasn’t Been Seen In 140 Years

A bird that’s been lost to science for 140 years was finally spotted again, and scientists even managed to capture video evidence of the living species!

The black-naped pheasant-pigeon was documented by scientists for the first (and only) time back in 1882. The species was believed to live exclusively only on Fergusson Island in Papua New Guinea, though researchers failed to find the bird in subsequent searches.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For 140 long years, the species remained “lost” to science, but all of that just changed.

In a collaborative effort, researchers spent around a month on Fergusson Island searching for the lost species and right before they left the island, they found it!

Photo: Twitter/@JasonJGregg

Conservation biologist Jason Gregg tweeted about the revolutionary discovery, saying: “I am super excited to share the first video of the Black-naped pheasant-pigeon, a species from Papua New Guinea lost to science for 140 years!”

He added, “Our month-long search on Fergusson Island focused on interviewing indigenous hunters, who are often masters of ecological knowledge and knew about the missing bird. Locals call it Auwo.”

The discovery was made as part of the Search for Lost Birds, a collaboration between the American Bird Conservancy, Re:wild, eBird, and BirdLife International that aims to identify lost bird species around the world.

According to a press release from Birdlife International, researchers used a remote camera trap to capture the footage of the bird, after searching for around a month on the Island of Fergusson.

In the press release, Jordan Boersma, co-leader of the expedition team, said he wasn’t hopeful they’d document the bird. He explained, “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. Then as I was scrolling through the photos, I was stunned by this photo of this bird walking right past our camera.”

Photo: Twitter/@JasonJGregg

The documented sighting is a huge breakthrough for the species, though experts believe its numbers aren’t strong. Birdlife International wrote, “Ornithologists know very little about the species but believe that the population on Fergusson is very small and decreasing.”

They added, “The team’s findings suggest that the pheasant-pigeon is likely to be extremely rare. The rugged and inaccessible forest where they rediscovered the species could be the last stronghold for the black-naped pheasant-pigeon on Fergusson.”

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