New bird species named Himalayan Forest Thrush found in India

Jan 22, 2016 08:03 IST

A team of scientists discovered a new bird species named Himalayan Forest Thrush in northeastern India and adjacent parts of China.

The species was discovered after noticing that a bird, known as a brush that lived in the forest, sang differently than the same bird that lived in the mountains.

The new species has been given scientific name Zoothera salimalii after famous ornithologist and naturalist Salim Ali who has made significant contributions to ornithology in India.

Key facts related to Zoothera salimalii

The Himalayan forest thrush is the fourth bird species to be discovered in India since 1947.

It is the first Indian bird named after late Salim Ali.

Researchers Per Alstrom and Shashank Dalvi first discovered the species in May-June 2009 while studying birds at high elevations in western Arunachal Pradesh.

It was found that instead of a single species - plain-backed thrush (Zoothera mollissima) - as believed till now, there existed two different species in the eastern Himalayas.

The Himalayan forest thrush was overlooked till now due to its close similarity in appearance to the plain-based thrush, renamed now as alpine thrush.

Studies of specimens stored in 15 museums across seven countries revealed there were differences in plumage and structure of the Himalayan forest thrush and the alpine thrush.

It was found that the Himalayan forest thrush breeding in coniferous and mixed forests of eastern Himalayas was not classified separately till now.

Scientists found that Himalayan forest thrush found in forests had a rather musical call, whereas alpine thrush found in the same region on bare rocky habitats above the treeline had a much harsher, scratchier and unmusical call.

Further analyses of plumage, structure, call, DNA and ecology throughout the range revealed the presence of a third species - Sichuan forest thrush - in central China. It has an even more musical call than that of the Himalayan forest thrush.

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