• Expedition teams rediscovered the dusky tetraka in in Madagascar
  • There were sightings at two different sites
  • However, it's quite possible that the bird is already threatened

Yet another lost species has made a comeback as a lovely songbird that hasn't been sighted for more than two decades has finally been spotted in Madagascar.

The last time the dusky tetraka was documented was way back in 1999. Considered to be an "extremely rare" species, the songbird is quite elusive and so, it hasn't been easy for scientists to describe its distinct characteristics.

Now, some 24 years after the bird was last sighted, expedition teams led by the nonprofit organization The Peregrine Fund have finally rediscovered the lost species in northern Madagascar. The sightings were reported at two different sites. One was in Masoala peninsula in December 2022, while the other was near Andapa just this January, sparking hope for the species' future.

The search for the lost species wasn't an easy one.

The team looking for the bird near Andapa, for instance, reportedly had to drive for over 40 hours and hike for half of a day just to get to the spot where it was last seen. Ornithologists hadn't been to the steep location near Andapa since 1999, and it turned out that the forest had mostly been destroyed and was turned into vanilla farms even though it was actually a protected area.

But regardless of the unfortunate state of the area, the teams' efforts eventually paid off.

By Dec. 22, the team searching for the dusky tetraka in the Masoala peninsula caught one in a mist net. Just days later, on Jan. 1, the team near Andapa, who had moved to lower elevations after not noticing any signs of the bird at higher elevations, finally spotted the first signs of the species and managed to capture one on the last day of the expedition on Jan. 2.

The teams released the birds back unharmed after taking measurements.

"Seeing the bird for the first time was truly a surprise," Armand Benjara, who co-led the team in the Masoala peninsula, said in a statement. "Our entire team was extremely happy and excited."

What's interesting is that the team in Andapa initially spotted the dusky tetraka hopping close to a river, which eventually led them to move the search to that area. This could be why it had been so hard to search for the species all this time, explained John C. Mittermeier of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

"Birding in tropical forests is all about listening for bird calls and so you naturally tend to avoid spending time next to rushing rivers where you can't hear anything," said Mittermeier.

There are further plans to look for the bird again, this time at other sites. It's possible, however, that the species is already threatened because of the destruction of forests in northeastern Madagascar, the organizations noted.

"We're thrilled and relieved to know that this little bird is still singing in the forests of Madagascar," said Christina Briggs of Re:Wild. "Now comes the work to protect the spaces that the dusky tetraka inhabits, and also keep remaining wild spaces wild, so other birds don't land on our list in the future."

Re:Wild is part of the Search For Lost Birds campaign, which includes the dusky tetraka.

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