A previously unknown species of a bird (a type of owl) has been discovered recently in Sri Lanka - the first such discovery in 132 years, the Ceylon Bird Club reported last week.
"The discovery of a species today is a major event in world ornithology. It happens mostly in little-explored parts of the planet. That a species should evade detection in Sri Lanka, so well covered by bird studies since colonial times, is astonishing," a bird enthusiast said.
Deepal Warakagoda, one of the world’s finest field ornithologists, had been tracking the bird by its call for several years and on January 23 he finally saw it in a wet-zone forest. As he had thought all along, it was an owl of a kind unknown in the island before.
Soon after, Chandima Kahan-dawala, accompanying Warakagoda took good photographs of the species in the wild, a remarkable feat so soon after its discovery. Ed Hagen of the USA was present on the first occasion and Nanda Senanayake, Chairman of the Ceylon Bird Club, and Udaya Sirivardana on the second.
The material gathered on the owl was studied by Dr. Pamela Rasmussen of the USA, a leading authority on the ornithology in this region, who states that the species is almost certainly new to science. Warakagoda and she are collaborating on studies to determine its taxonomy, distribution, ecology and biology, a Bird Club spokesman said.