[latin] Pycnonotus hualon | [UK] Bare-faced Bulbul | [year] 2009 | [status] LEAST CONCERN

Bare-faced Bulbul new species

Based on distinctive morphological (plumage and skin) and vocal characters we describe a new species of bulbul from the limestone karst of central Lao PDR and place it in the genus Pycnonotus. The species is so far known from one locality in Savannakhet province and two probable earlier records from the Bolikhamxai?Khammouan provinces border area. Initial observations suggest it may represent an extreme example of habitat specificity within the Pycnonotidae and have a distribution limited to the central Indochina limestone belt of central Lao PDR and, perhaps, western central Vietnam. Further work is required to understand more clearly the distribution, ecology and behaviour of this species. However, its apparent preference for sparsely vegetated, deciduous habitats on rugged and uncultivable karst terrain may partly explain why this conspicuous species escaped detection for so long. Based on inferred distribution and apparent habitat preferences, a large proportion of the global population may occur within the Phou Hinpoun (Khammouan Limestone) and perhaps Hin Namno National Protected Areas. The relative impenetrability of the large, cohesive areas of karst present therein should further protect against the majority of processes that currently threaten Indochinese karst birds and their habitats. Populations on isolated outcrops are expected to be more at risk. An odd songbird with a bald head living in a rugged region in Laos has been discovered by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the University of Melbourne, as part of a project funded and managed by the mining company MMG (Minerals and Metals Group). The species has been named Bare-faced Bulbul Pycnonotus hualon because of the lack of feathers on its face and part of its head, it is the only example of a bald songbird in mainland Asia. It is the first new species of bulbul ? a family of about 130 species ? described in Asia in over 100 years. A description of the new species has been published in the July issue of Forktail, the journal of the Oriental Bird Club. The thrush-sized bird is greenish-olive with a light-colored breast, a distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill and a narrow line of hair-like feathers down the centre of the crown. The bird seems to be primarily tree-dwelling and was found in an area of sparse forest on rugged limestone karsts ? a little-visited habitat known for unusual wildlife discoveries. First seen by scientists over 15 years ago, the Bare-Faced Bulbul has evaded discovery due to its remote location and seemingly outrageous appearance. It is only known to live in the sparse, deciduous forest on limestone karsts in central Laos, where it was originally discovered.

I.A. Woxvold, J.W. Duckworth, and R.J. Timmins (2009). "An unusual new bulbul (Passeriformes: Pycnonotidae) from the limestone karst of Lao PDR". Forktail 25: 1?12. http://www.orientalbirdclub.org/publications/forktail/25/WoxvoldDuckworthTimmins-Bulbul.pdf.

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