China: Sichuan Bush Warbler distinctive call pave the way for its discovery 


 Due to its unique call that distinguishes it from other local species, a highly secretive bird was found. A bird species largely unknown to biologists, as the Sichuan bush warbler was re-discovered in China.

Preferring dense forests full of foliage, this rare species make it difficult for biologists to study, which have not been observed in decades. Species have been found in 5 China provinces, where the unique call had not been matched with a physical bird up til now.

“The Sichuan bush warbler is exceedingly secretive and difficult to spot as its preferred habitat is dense brush and tea plantations. However, it distinguishes itself thanks to its distinctive song that consists of a low-pitched drawn-out buzz, followed by a shorter click, repeated in series,”  assistant curator Pamela Rasmussen at the Michigan State University Museum  said.

The bird’s genetic makeup revealed a close relation to the russet bush warbler, which lives in the same regions as the newly re-discovered species. It is believed by biologists that the 2 species last shared a common ancestor 850,000 years ago. The findings were generated through the study of animal mitochondrial DNA, which was first recognized by an international team of scientists and researchers from the United States, Vietnam, Sweden, United Kingdom and China.

Ornithologist Cheng Tso-hsin, the founder of the Peking Natural History Museum, was who the Locustella chengi was named after,  to honor Cheng, who passed away in 1989. Cheng, born in 1906, grew up a nature lover and ardent watcher of birds that reside in the forest near his abode. In 1926, he graduated from the Fujian Christian University and in 1930 earned his doctorate from the University of Michigan. A prolific author, Cheng shared his insights of biology with the outside world.

Although rarely seen, the bird species are fairly common in their habitat and is not in immediate danger of extinction. The preferred habitat for this elusive birds is at elevations around 7,500 feet above sea level, although they tend to seek out lower ground, when they are close to russets.

The Michigan State University Web site has a recorded song of the Sichuan bush warbler.




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