China (BBN)-An elusive bird with a tendency to hide among the grassy vegetation of central China’s mountainous terrain was finally confirmed to be an entirely new species, thanks to its distinctive song.
Meet the Sichuan Bush Warbler, which made its debut in a paper published in Avian Research on Friday, reports The Washington Post.
Its scientific name is Locustella chengi, after the late Chinese ornithologist Cheng Tso-hsin.
The Sichuan Bush Warbler looks a lot like another species, the Russet Bush Warbler, and both birds live more or less in the same places.
But the “exceedingly secretive” Sichuan Bush Warbler sounds quite different from its neighbor, a Michigan State University biologist who co-authored the paper said in a statement.
“Its distinctive song … consists of a low-pitched drawn-out buzz, followed by a shorter click, repeated in series,” Pamela Rasmussen said.
You can listen to that song here, via the Avian Vocalizations Center.
Although exceedingly hard to spot, the new species appears to be pretty common in the region, Rasmussen noted.
The birds are visually distinguished by only slight observable differences, based on the specimens studied by researchers.
The Sichuan Bush Warbler is “typically greyer (less russet) above and on the breast-sides and flanks,” the paper explains.
But, the researchers note, “this difference does not always hold.”
All of the specimens that researchers were able to examine turned out to be males, so it’s possible that a female Sichuan Bush Warbler could be more visually distinct.
The Russet Bush Warblers and the Sichuan Bush Warblers seem to be accustomed to living in close quarters.
Two males, one of each species, that were observed by researchers “held territories that were adjacent, and probably at least partly overlapping,” the paper explains, adding:
Most of the time, the two birds were singing from different sides of a road, at close distance from each other, although the [Russet Bush Warbler] male was also heard on two occasions singing within what was undoubtedly the Sichuan Bush Warbler’s territory.
The Sichuan Bush Warbler was seen chasing the [Russet Bush Warbler] male across the road once.
The researchers didn’t seem too surprised to find a new species of bird among the warblers, the paper indicates.
The Russet Bush Warbler in particular has a “long history of taxonomic confusion.”