A rare and poorly known bird
found only in the Philippines has been photographed alive
for the first time and confirmed to still exist, the Wild
Bird Club of the Philippines reports.
The Worcester’s Buttonquail (Turnix
worcesteri) was recorded on both video and stills photography
by a documentary team from GMA Network at Dalton Pass in Nueva
Vizcaya last January.
“This is a very important finding,”
said Arne Jensen, a Danish ornithologist and biodiversity
expert, long-time resident of the Philippines, and head of
the Records Committee of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
“Once you don’t see a bird species in a generation,
you start to wonder if it’s extinct, and for this bird
species we simply do not know its status at all.”
The Worcester’s Buttonquail is found
only on Luzon and it may be a threatened endemic species.
Unfortunately, there is extremely little information about
this bird. Its breeding area remains unknown although it is
suspected to be a rare resident of the high mountain grasslands
of the Cordilleras. It was first described based on specimens
purchased in Quinta Market in Manila in 1902. The bird was
named after Dean Conant Worcester, an American zoologist and
public official specializing in the Philippines around that
Since then just a few single specimens have
been documented from Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet, and lately,
in 2007, from Mountain Province by Chicago’s Field Museum
of Natural History.
The endemic bird, whose drawings in bird
guides were based on dead museum specimens collected decades
ago, was caught by native bird trappers in mid-January and
documented by an I-Witness team led by Howie Severino.
“We are ecstatic that this rarely seen
species was photographed by accident,” said Michael
Lu, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. “It
may be the only photo of this poorly known bird. But I also
feel sad that the locals do not value the biodiversity around
them and that this bird was sold for only P10.00 and headed
for the dining table! What if this was the last of its species?
Much more has to be done in creating conservation awareness
and local consciousness about our unique threatened bird fauna.
This should be an easy task for the local governments assisted
by the DENR.”
Severino and his team had not realized what
they had documented until Desmond Allen, a British ornithologist
who is a member of the Club, spotted a photograph of the bird
in the credits of Bye-Bye Birdie, the team’s recent
I-Witness documentary about the bird-trapping tradition in
The accompanying photograph of the Worcester’s
Buttonquail was taken by Arnel Telesforo, a birding aficionado
who accompanied the team to Nueva Vizcaya.
Michael Lu, 09178673667, email@example.com
President, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
Arne Jensen, 09178111884, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair, Records Committee, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines