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Increasing Number of Bird Species in Indonesia

In early 2020, Burung Indonesia recorded an increase in bird species. The increase included the removal of four species from the list of 1,777 species to 1,773 species. The newly described species, the Alor Myzomela (Myzomela prawiradilagae) and Spectacled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum dayakorum), were also included in the list. The development of ornithology and taxonomy enabled species split from the previous list, resulting in the addition of 14 species. Alor Myzomela was announced as a new species in October 2019. The bird was endemic to Alor Island and inhabits mountainous habitats at an altitude range of 900-1,270 meters above sea level.

Recent studies had shown that four species that were considered separate species were actually subspecies of previously known species. “For example, the Tanahjampea Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis djampeanus), previously known as an endemic species on Tanajampea Island, has similarities to the Sulawesi Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis omissus). For this reason, the Tanahjampea Blue- flycatcher then grouped as subspecies of Sulawesi Blue-flycatcher,” said Achmad R. Junaid, Research & Communication Officer of Burung Indonesia.

Spectacled Flowerpecker was also added as a newly described species. It took a long and deep study before the scientists introduced it as a new species, with the scientific name Dicaeum dayakorum. The name was inspired by and to honor the Dayak tribe who has extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna of their native regions.

Five other newly described species were Peleng Fantail, Taliabu Grasshopper-Warbler, Taliabu Myzomela, Peleng Leaf-warbler, Taliabu Leaf-warbler. Three species were native to Peleng Island (Central Sulawesi Province), and the other two originated to Taliabu Island (North Maluku Province). Considering the differences in their characteristics, several subspecies were then recognized as different species and separated from their previous groups. In detail, the species split consisted of three cuckoo-dove species, three parrot species, one species of bulbul, three species of nightingale, and four species of spectacled bird.

At the end of 2019, the World Conservation Agency (IUCN) updated the world's IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, followed by BirdLife International which announced 11,147 global bird species. Indonesia ranked fourth on the list of countries with the highest number of birds in the world.

Based on this update, eight bird species are now at increased risk of extinction and at a higher threat category (up listed). On the other hand, only one species is experiencing a reduced risk of extinction (down listed). Javan Lapwing (Vanellus macropterus), which was previously categorized as one of the species with the highest risk of extinction, is now estimated to have experienced extinction in its natural habitat. IUCN declared possibly extinct status to this species (Critically Endangered-Possibly Extinct/CR-PE). There is no record of encounters with Javan Lapwing since 1939, causing this species to be declared to have disappeared from the lowlands of Java Island.

The eight bird species which status has increased to threat, among others, are Pale-bellied Myna (Acridotheres cinereus), Brown-cheeked Bulbul (Alophoixus bres), Javan Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis), Sumatran Leafbird (Chloropsis media), Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati), Blue-eared Lory (Eos semilarvata), Tanimbar Scrubfowl (Megapodius tenimberensis), dan Javan White-eye (Zosterops avus).

"The increase in the threat status of these species is certainly a new challenge for bird con

servation efforts in Indonesia, because the population loss and threat are still related to unsustainable hunting followed by habitat loss due to degradation and land conversion,” Junaid added.

In addition, the Indian White-eye, a bird species that has a wide distribution in the Asian region, also received attention. The subspecies of the bird, which widely spread on Java and Bali Islands, were considered a new species by taxonomic researchers and was given a new name: Sangkar White-eye (Zosterops melanurus). The split was based on morphological and genetic differences compared to subspecies in other areas.

In recent years, people in Java and Bali have kept the spectacle birds as pets. The market demand and hunting rate of the bird is also high, due to its beautiful feather and voice. Since the activities causing the decrease of number, this species has now been declared as Globally Threatened Species on Vulnerable category.

Achmad Ridha Junaid
Research and Communication Officer
HP: 0823 1123 0749

Ari Kurniawati
Communication and Outreach Officer
HP: 08122 521 5426