Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 11th, 2008
A recent new find in Asia must be understood in the larger context of how the birding community discusses “new species.” Not all talk of “new discoveries” of birds are of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker variety or level of effort, but most are of the talk of ranges, new life list records, and interlopers.
As a heads-up to how insiders in birding “see the world,” there are ongoing discussions of when “new species” appear in areas they have not been seen before. This has nothing to do with the discovery of “new species,” per se, but does sometimes generate a bit of a buzz in the birding media about “new species discoveries,” especially if there are good visuals to go with the story.
Take, for example, the “new bird” recently found in Jurong.
It is a case of a photographer documenting a new species for Singapore.
The images of this bird were posted on Avian Watch Asia, and represent a new record by Dr. Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong at the Japanese Garden in Jurong, Singapore, on December 22, 2007. A lone bird was seen on a salam tree (Syzygium polyantha), quietly eating the tree’s fruits for about 15 minutes before it flew off.
Birder Albert Low then tentatively identified the bird as a possible Orange-breasted Green-pigeon (Treron bicincta). This species, known from Sri Lanka, eastern Java, and northern Bali, has been recorded as far south as Port Dickson in Penisular Malaysia. Low felt, just like the Jambu Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus jambu), this bird could occur in Singapore, particularly during big figging seasons. He appears to have been correct.
This is the first sighting of the Orange-breasted Green Pigeon in Singapore, a male bird. The bird looks like the Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans), except that the forehead, face and throat are greenish yellow. Also, the mauve-pink upper breast area is smaller and does not extend to the neck. The outer feathers of the tail is blackish, with a broad pale grey subterminal band.
1. Anon, “Orange-breasted Green Pigeon sighted in Jurong”: http://besgroup.talfrynature.com/?p=2471
2. Baptista, L. F., Trail, P. W. & Horblit, H. M. (1997). Family Columbidae (pigeons and doves). Pp. 60-245 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
3. Gibbs, D., Barnes, E. & Cox, J. (2001). Pigeons and doves: A guide to the pigeons and doves of the world. Sussex: Pica Press.
4. Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.
5. Additional information from Dr. Jonathan Cheah Weng Kwong and Albert Low; images by Johathan.