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Extinct Bird Found, Photographed & Then Eaten

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 19th, 2009

A rare Worcester’s buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri), a probable female, which is also locally known as the Philippines quail, is shown being photographed while being held by a bird hunter in Caraballo (above).

The bird, thought to be extinct, was photographed for the first time in the Philippines, and then sold to a poultry market as food.

Found only on the island of Luzon, Worcester’s buttonquail was known solely through drawings based on dated museum specimens collected several decades ago.

(Turnix sylvatica)

Locally called “Pugo”, these birds are known to inhabit rice paddies and scrub lands near farm areas because of the availability of seeds and insects that they feed on regularly. The Worcester’s buttonquail males are characterized by black heads with white spots, a brown or fawn colored body and yellow legs. The females are brown with white and black spots.

These birds are very secretive, choosing to make small path ways through the rice fields, which unfortunately leads to their deaths as well, as they are hunted by children and young men by means of setting spring traps along their usual path ways.

(Turnix pyrrhothorax)

Scientists had suspected the Turnix worcesteri species, listed as “data deficient” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s 2008 Red List, was extinct.

Wild Bird Club of the Philippines President Michael Lu asked a question that naturally came to my mind: “What if this was the last of its species?”

He told the Agence France-Press news agency that it’s unfortunate that the locals aren’t more conscious of the threatened wildlife around them.

However, the buttonquail is from a “notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds,” according to the nonprofit Birdlife International, so the species may survive undetected in other regions.

A news feature about the Worcester’s Buttonquail was aired in the Philippines recently by the documentary filmmaker Howie Severino, a member of the GMA Network. It was mentioned that the documentary was the first time an actual live photo of the bird was taken. The photo, with appeared only briefly in their credits, was taken in Nueva Vizcaya in northern Luzon. The photographer is Arnel Telesforo.

Sources: Christine Dell’Amore, National Geographic; Fox News; “Luzon Buttonquail,” Wikipedia.

Thanks to Tom Burke for the initial heads up to this story.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


15 Responses to “Extinct Bird Found, Photographed & Then Eaten”

  1. Valen responds:

    “then sold to a poultry market as food”

    I am speechless, absolutely speechless.

  2. maslo63 responds:

    “What if this was the last of its species?”

    If that is the case then how it died is of little concern, the species was doomed anyway. You can’t very well keep a species alive with one individual. A real shame that it was eaten though, embarrassing actually.

  3. Alligator responds:

    Did those bird hunters realize what they had? They could have made far more money by keeping the bird alive, guiding ornithologists to the spot, etc. than they made by selling it for dinner. Unfortunately, this type of thing is an ongoing problem in the developing world. Lack of education, lack of financial capital to offset the need for eliminating the last few members of a species, etc. How do you make those folks aware and feel the need or the importance of saving a species?

  4. ARO responds:

    I’m sorry this may be sad but this is hilarious,”the bird, thought to be extinct, was photographed for the first time in the Philippines, and then sold to a poultry market as food.” ROFL!!!!

  5. TheBibliophile responds:

    I’m… speechless.

  6. mtizard responds:

    Once again, The Onion gets there ahead of real life…

    New Delicious Species Discovered

  7. cryptidsrus responds:

    It is truly tragic.

    We may never know if it was the last species or not. Hopefully more will be found.

    Maslo63: In its own way, that was funny. And grimly true if right.
    I’m not as amused as ARO but I do see some of the humor. I’m just not rolling on the floor laughing.

  8. courage responds:

    Am I the only one who wonders what they taste like?

    Last one, chances that the last one would be randomly photographed is very slim.

    We know that the locals set traps for these birds specifically which to me indicated they feel they will be catching some. If we accept my last statement as true then it sounds like there must be a large population of these birds in the locality.

  9. twas brillig responds:

    “However, the buttonquail is from a “notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds,” according to the nonprofit Birdlife International”

    Is this sentence containing a double meaning? I wonder…

    “Operation Mockingbird was a secret Central Intelligence Agency campaign to influence domestic and foreign media beginning in the 1950s.” wickedpedia

    BLUEBIRD was the cryptonym for a CIA program involving special interrogation methods, including the use of drugs, hypnosis, and isolation. It lasted from 1949 to 1950 when it was renamed “ARTICHOKE”, and would eventually become the infamous MKULTRA.” wickedpedia

  10. billwrtr responds:

    Any word on how it tasted?

  11. shumway10973 responds:

    I am sorry, but why would anyone take a picture of something and then sell it to a place where you know it is going to end up as food?! Find a bird society and hold it for ransom. By the way, that is the tiniest “quail” I have ever seen. There is nothing to eat. Ever hear of “too small must throw back?”
    Nice star trek image above. I’m with Picard.

  12. Gillian72crypto responds:

    How could anyone eat such a precious bird? Does anyone kown how many exist? If you do please write back!

  13. youcantryreachingme responds:

    I suspected the bird that was photographed was not the same as in the illustrations – the beak shape does not match – but then, the species names gives that away too.

    However, I am aghast at the ignorance of those saying “how could they eat such a precious bird??” It would be like me saying to you – “I can’t believe it. You actually feed your children? Are you kidding me? What? You want them to *survive* or something?”

    I think that answers the question. It’s like asking how third world farmers on the poverty line could possibly chop down internationally valuable forests for the sake of a few measly dollars. Fact is those few pennys keep those families alive.

    Chris.

  14. mystery_man responds:

    youcantryreachingme- I don’t think there was enough meat on that thing to keep anyone alive. :)

    I sympathize with a hunter wanting to feed his family, but I think what people are getting at here is that the bird would have been worth much more to one who caught it if he had kept it alive.

    I am under the impression that this farmer simply didn’t know any better. It is not as if these people are necessarily going to be up to date on all of their orthinology knowledge. If he had known how important the bird was, he might have kept it alive since he’d be aware of the chance of getting a lot more money for it, I imagine.

    I suppose he might have thought the bird was strange (after all, he took the time to take a photo) but how was he to know this could be the last of it’s kind? I think the guy likely made an honest, if unfortunate, mistake.

  15. cryptid responds:

    I bet it was a tasty bird



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