Not Mohawk, but Mobulbul

A new Bulbul has been discovered in the limestone karst of Laos. Not since the Grey-eyed Bulbul (Iole propinqua) in 1903 has a new Asian Bulbul been described.

Presenting the Bare-faced Bulbul (Pycnonotus hualon):
Barefaced Bulbul
♀ Bare-faced Bulbul © I. Woxvold/Forktail

According to BBC, “[i]ts inhospitable habitat, far from any human activity or settlement, may explain why this unusual creature has evaded researchers until now,” but I am guessing that is not the only reason. This is the sort of bird that turns heads . . . the other way. It may have been spotted as early as 1995, actually.

The new Bulbul has been classified, assigned not only to the family of Pycnonotidae, but also tentatively to the genus of Pycnonotus, based on morphological and behavioural characteristics alone. Bill and tarsi morphology and rictal and nasal bristles as well as the vocalizations, including “whistled, dry bubbling notes” and “churring” were used to justify the placement of the new species.Woxvolde et al.

Hualon is the Laotian word for “bald-headed” but also applied to shaven head. The holotype description includes: “the predominance of loose, hair-like filoplumes (mostly un-barbed) along the mid-crown.” So the look is more like that of a finely groomed Mohican or punk. But “the presence of extensive pale blue periorbital and loral skin and orange-pink skin on the rear sides of the head and below the eye to the malar area” is definitely more of a Glam Rocker phenomenon. Neither punks nor Mohicans were fanatical about blue eyeshadow.


And here, we have the Bare-chinned Bulbul. The holotype features a bare, or stubbly chin, and a pronounced frown depicting discontent with ex nido life, in general.

Bare-chinned Bulbul
Just kidding. This is a juvenile White-eared Bulbul one day after fledging, 8 June 2009

While we welcome a new Bulbul to the taxanomic family, we might as well welcome a new one to the nuclear family!

~ by finchwench on Friday, 31 July 2009.

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