Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

New bird species found in rainforests of Borneo

By Doreen Walton
Science reporter, BBC News

Spectacled flowerpecker
A female of the new species was spotted snacking on mistletoe

A new species of bird has been spotted in the rainforests of Borneo.

Leeds University biologist Richard Webster first glimpsed the bird from a canopy walkway 35m above ground.

The spectacled flowerpecker, a small, wren-sized, grey bird, was feeding on some flowering mistletoe in a tree. On one sighting it was heard singing.

The bird has white markings around its eyes, belly and breast. It has not yet been given a scientific name because so little is known about it.

Dr David Edwards, a tropical ecologist at the University of Leeds, identified the bird as a new species from photographs.

"It's like a dream come true," he said. "I've spent all these years, decades, watching birds and all you want to do really is discover a new species to science.

"All that tropical field work has paid off, all the mosquitoes, the leeches, the rainstorms and the mud have been worthwhile."

The team caught sight of the birds several times in the days following its first appearance.

They were working in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah, Malaysia, last summer.

"The discovery of a new bird species in the heart of Borneo underlines the incredible diversity of this remarkable area," said Adam Tomasek, leader of WWF's Heart of Borneo initiative.

The findings are published in Oriental Bird Club's journal BirdingASIA.

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