HANOI (AFP) - – A "bald" bird discovered in Laos is Asia's first new species of bulbul -- a type of songbird -- in more than 100 years, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said Thursday.

Scientists from the Society, as well as the University of Melbourne, identified the bird, which has a practically bald head, WCS said in a news release.

They reported their findings in the July issue of Forktail, the scientific journal of the Oriental Bird Club, a United Kingdom charity.

"This paper describes for the first time in over 100 years a new Asian species of bulbul," the scientists wrote of their discovery late last year in an area of limestone karsts in Laos's Savannakhet province.

The bird, named the Bare-faced Bulbul, is not completely bald but has a narrow line of hair-like feathers down the centre of its crown. It also has a distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill, said the Society, which manages urban wildlife parks including the Bronx Zoo in New York.

"Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long," said Iain Woxvold, the University of Melbourne scientist who was part of the team that made the discovery.

Limestone karsts remain among the least studied ecosystems in Southeast Asia, he and the other scientists wrote in their journal article.

Note: I find this kind of funny. First, they said the bird was bald and then second, its a songbird variety called the "bulbul". Here in the Philippines, that word means "pubic hair". Get it? hehehehe

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