Tailorbird, newest bird species, discovered living in capital city of over one million people

The Cambodian tailorbird is the newest species of avian to be recognized by science. It has a loud call and a distinctive set of markings that set tailorbirds apart from other species.

One of the more remarkable things about this bird was where it was discovered - not in the depths of an uninhabted forest, but in a city of 1.5 million people. The new species of bird was discovered living both inside and just outside Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

"The modern discovery of an un-described bird species within the limits of a large populous city - not to mention 30 minutes from my home - is extraordinary," Simon Mahood of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said. Mahood is the lead author of the study announcing the new species.

About the size of a wren, the tailorbird features a gray body, black throat and a tawny, rust-colored cap. They are related to warblers and their common name, tailorbird, derives from the way they carefully weave leaves together in the construction of their nests.

The new bird species was first photographed by accident in 2009 when Ashish John of the WCS took a picture of what was believed to be a similar, known species of bird. Identification of the animal was not possible given the known avian types in the area, and researchers realized they were looking at a new variety of bird.

With the scientific name Orthotomus chaktomuk, the news species was recognized by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Birdlife International, along with other groups. The name chaktomuk is a Khmer word meaning "four faces."

It is one of the only two bird species known which are found exclusively in Cambodia. The other, the Cambodian laughingthrush, lives solely in the sparsely-populated Cardamom Mountains. The tailorbird lives where three rivers, the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap, all come together. This lowland floodplain is covered in brush and is home to many common birds, which could explain why this new bird went undiscovered for so long - not many birdwatchers come to that area, as rare birds are not known to make their home there.

Indo-China has been rich in new bird discoveries the last two decades, as researchers study the wildlife of remote regions of the area.

"The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations." Mahood said.

Early study of the bird is profiled in the online version of the journal Forktail, compiled by the Oriental Bird Club.

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