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27 Jun 2013: New Bird Species Identified
In Crowded Outskirts of Phnom Penh

A team of scientists in Cambodia has identified a new species of lowland tailorbird recently captured in the densely populated outskirts of Phnom Penh. Originally caught and photographed in 2009 during a
Cambodia tailorbird
J.A. Eaton/WCS
An adult male Cambodia tailorbird
routine sampling for avian influenza, the small wren-sized bird was initially misidentified as a known type of tailorbird until the photographs caught the attention of scientist Simon Mahood of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Following genetic analysis of other individuals collected in the region, scientists confirmed that the bird — which has white cheeks, a rich cinnamon-colored crown, and distinct vocal characters — was indeed a new species. “I’ve always wanted to discover a bird species, but I never expected it would happen like this,” Mahood, who lives about 30 minutes from the area of the Mekong floodplain where the bird was discovered, told the New York Times. According to an article co-authored by Mahood in Forktail, a journal of the Oriental Bird Club, the so-called Cambodia tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk) is known to exist only in a dense, lowland scrub ecosystem that is declining in size and quality.

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