By Brooks Hays
Scientists believed shrinking wetlands and commercial development had helped to snuff out the species.
The Jerdon's babbler has been missing for more than a half-century. It was last spotted in Myitkyo, Myanmar, near the Sittaung River, in July of 1941 -- its range across Southeast Asia believed to have disappeared entirely.
But the bird, long thought to be extinct, has been spotted once again in the grasslands of Myanmar -- its existence confirmed by a team of researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The scientists heard the bird's unique call while conducting research near an abandoned agricultural research station in Myanmar.
As its name hints, the babbler's call is a long, weak warble featuring as many seven notes. After hearing the call, researchers spent two days exploring the surrounding habitat and found the species at several other locations.
The British naturalist T.C. Jerdon first described the bird in 1862. But in the century that followed, shrinking wetlands and commercial development pushed the species to the brink of extinction.
"The degradation of these vast grasslands had led many to consider this subspecies of Jerdon's babbler extinct," Colin Poole, told CBS News. "This discovery not only proves that the species still exists in Myanmar but that the habitat can still be found as well. "
Scientists say work needs to be done to shore up conservation efforts in local communities to ensure the bird doesn't go missing again.
"Future work is needed," Colin Poole, director of WCS's hub in Singapore, said in a press release, "to identify remaining pockets of natural grassland and develop systems for local communities to conserve and benefit from them."
Researchers detailed the bird's rediscovery in Birding Asia, the journal of the Oriental Bird Club.