Adele; you just can’t get away from her at the moment. Not only is she dominating our airwaves with her latest album but she’s also inspiring the discovery of new species as researchers have now identified two species of the plain back thrushes of India.
For many years it was assumed that there was just one species of plain black thrush (Zoothera mollissima) found in north-eastern India. However in 2009 researchers noted that there it was possible there were two different species as individuals found in the coniferous forests of north-eastern India and adjacent parts of China were singing a far more melodic song than those found on bare rocks above the tree line.
Now renamed the Alpine thrush, those that are found on the rocks have a much harsher, scratchier voice. Writing in the journal Avian Research Per Alström of Uppsala University in Sweden notes that those found in the forests (now named Himalayan Forest thrush) have a song made up of a “mix of rich, drawn-out clear notes and shorter, thinner ones, with hardly any harsh scratchy notes”. This contrast in songs led co-author Shashank Dalvi to state “To an ornithologist, the Himalayan forest thrush sounds like Adele, while the alpine thrush sounds more like Rod Stewart.”
The Himalayan Forest Thrush was given the name Zoothera salimalii after Dr Sálim Ali (1896–1987) in honour of his huge contributions to Indian ornithology. Although locally common, new bird discoveries are rare in India. The Himalayan Forest Thrush is the fourth new species to be discovered since the country gained independence in 1947.
Featured Image of Himalayan Forest Thrush by Craig Brelsford
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