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article imageNew species of bird found in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 26, 2013 in Science
Phnom Penh - A new species of bird has been identified and described by scientists who found them in rural areas associated with the Mekong River, but also in urban areas of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
The bird is small, about the size of a common sparrow, with gray plumage. Males have white cheeks, a black spot in the throat and a distinct brownish-red crown. Females are similar, but show less conspicuous coloration. The new species belongs to the group of so-called "Tailorbirds" pertaining to the Orthotomus genus, of which there are about 11 other species that also inhabit regions of Asia.
The tailorbirds are so named for the way they build their nest. The birds pierce the edges of large leaves and stitch them together with plant fibers to form a kind of pouch or cradle on which they build a nest using smaller grass leaves.
The researchers named the new species Orthotomus chaktomuk. The first samples were captured in 2009, which led to the study of other specimens taken from areas surrounding the lower Mekong River and within the city of about 2.3 million inhabitants, although the bird population living within the Cambodian capital is scarce.
The distribution of the new species includes the floodplains of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers. The birds have also been seen in the brush areas of the metropolis situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers.
“Finding any new bird species is special, but to find one so close to my home and the homes of millions of people is particularly special,” said Simon P. Mahood, one of the scientists in the study.
Based on current knowledge of its range, the distribution of O. chaktomuk covers an area of less than 10,000 square kilometers. Thus, it can be considered a restricted-range species. At the same time, and because the quality of the environment in which this bird inhabits, the researchers recommend that this species should immediately be listed among the "near-threatened" species.
Researchers led by Simon P. Mahood of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Cambodia Program and other experts from organizations in Phnom Penh and Singapore, and universities in Kansas, Maine and Louisiana in the USA, published the finding in the journal Forktail under the title: "A new species of lowland tailorbird (Passeriformes: Cisticolidae: Orthotomus) from the Mekong floodplain of Cambodia."
More about Cambodian tailorbird, Phnom penh, Cambodia, Orthotomus chaktomuk, Mekong River
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