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Field researchers identify new bird

Polish those binoculars, birders, and pull out your passports.

There’s a new species of bird to see, identified through the work of several researchers at Chicago’s Field Museum.

The bird is Mentocrex beankaensis, a forest-dwelling rail found in the endangered dry forests of Madagascar, an island country off Africa’s east coast.

“This bird they’ve known about for decades, but no one has been able to go find it and get a specimen of it,” said Nick Block, a graduate student at the University of Chicago who is based at the Field Museum. “It’s not a common thing at all, and it’s really hard to find.”

Field Museum researcher Steve Goodman, who has worked in Madagascar for decades, was among a group of scientists conducting a large-scale inventory of plant and animal life in 2009 in the country’s Beanka Forest. The new rail was collected along with several new species of plants which have not yet been named.

Block said he’s hoping the bird’s discovery will increase ecotourism to the area.

“All bird watchers will want to add it to their checklist,” he said.



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