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New Bird Species in 2013 – Owls, Jays and other Surprises

Rinjani Scops Owl

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by or Sangster G, King BF, Verbelen P, Trainor CR

Birds are the most intensely observed and studied of all vertebrates, yet each year ornithologists and birders, surprise us with new species.  2013 was a particularly fruitful time for the species-seekers.  Included among the year’s discoveries are an owl endemic to a single island, a loud, colorful songbird found in the middle of a bustling capital city, and scores of others, some quite large and brilliantly-colored. Without further delay – check out the new bird species of 2013 below!


Rinjani Scops Owl, Otus jolandae

This owl was confused with the Malaccan Scops Owl until an ornithologist noted a difference in their calls.  The Rinjani Scops Owl produces  whistling vocalizations that are most “un-owl-like” and, once heard, cannot be confused with those of its relatives.  The fact that it is endemic to Lombok Island, in Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda chain, lends greater importance to the find…island endemics often face threats to their survival.


Birds of the Amazon Basin

C. chrysops

Uploaded to Wikipedis Commons by David.Monniaux

Once again, the Amazon Basin yielded more new birds (and a great many insects, fishes, mammals and other creatures) than anywhere else on earth.  This might be expected, as it is a world center of bird diversity, with over 1,300 species identified thus far.  But many of the 15 new species described this year surprised even seasoned local ornithologists with their size and coloration…the Campina Jay (a similar relative is pictured here) and the Tupana Scythbill (a

similar relative is pictured below) are good examples.   Other new species included woodcreepers, puffbirds, antwrens, flycatchers and gnatcatchers.


Cambodian Tailorbird, Orthotomus chaktomuk

Although the Cambodian Tailorbird is only wren-sized, it sings loudly and its rust-colored head cap and black throat are very distinctive.  So ornithologists were quite surprised to find that it had been “hiding in plain sight”.  It was first seen at a construction site in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s bustling capital city.  Further investigation revealed that it inhabits patches of scrub throughout the city, and is common on nearby river floodplains.


Orange billed Sparrow

Uploadedto Wikipedia Commons by Jerry Oldenette

Guerrero Brush Finch, Aremon brunneinucha

This beautiful little bird, a relative of the sparrows and buntings, is in need of study and protection.  Found only in the cloud forests of Mexico’s Sierra Madre  del Sur mountain range, it is similar in appearance to related species (please see photo), but little is known of its natural history or the status of its population.


Sierra Madre Ground Wren, Robonius thompsoni

This newfound bird is placed in a very unique genus, which contains only two other species.  Ground Wrens are found only in the northern Philippines, and seem unrelated to other songbirds.  They stay mostly to thick brush and forest undergrowth, and are believed capable only of weak flight.  The newly-discovered species is, like the others, a master ventriloquist…locating one by voice alone is said to be impossible.  Much remains to be learned about the group’s natural history and conservation needs.


Red Billed Scythbill

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Michael Woodruff



Further Reading

Bald Parrot Discovered in Amazon

2012’s New Bird Species



  1. avatar

    That jay is perhaps the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen, but these are all wonderful. Thanks for keeping us abreast!

  2. avatar

    Thanks, Joy…I think it is spectacular also, best, Frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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