A new species of sparrow has just been officially recognized by the scientific community thanks to observations conducted in Indonesia by a Belgian birdwatcher who also works as a forest expert at Greenpeace, the environmental defence organization reported on Wednesday in a press release. The new species responds to the beautiful name of Myzomela irianawidodoae.
“I left on a trip to Indonesia in 2009 with the aim of recording the cries of little-known owls,” Philippe Verbelen of Greenpeace explains. “During my stay on the island of Rote (in the Little Sunda Islands -editor’s note) I had the opportunity to observe and, especially, to listen to a beautiful red collared sparrow,” Verbelen said. “This colourful bird had been spotted just once before on the same island by Australian ornithologist Ron Johnstone in 1990.”
Contrary to what the Australian ornithologist thought, this red and black sparrow was in no way the same as the one living on the neighbouring island of Sumba, the Belgian ornithologist added. “On listening to the audio recordings I’d made in 2009, I noticed that its song was very different from that of its neighbour on Sumba and its Australian cousins,” he explained. “I then went back to Rote and Sumba in 2014 to take more photos and make new recordings of the bird’s song.”
In 2015, a team of Indonesian scientists from the Indonesian Scientific Institute, LIPI and the University of Singapore did the same and went on to describe in detail the bird’s colour and morphology.