Spectacled flowerpecker

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Spectacled flowerpecker
Scientific classification (disputed)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Dicaeidae
Genus: Dicaeum
Spectacled Flowerpeckers, Brunei, Borneo
A pair of Spectacled Flowerpeckers feeding on Medinilla berries, Belalong Canopy Walkway, Brunei.

The spectacled flowerpecker is a new species of bird discovered in, and solely recorded from, the forests of Borneo,[1] in June 2009, and apparently belonging to the flowerpecker family Dicaeidae. It has not yet been formally described or given a scientific name because of limited information and lack of a specimen.[2][3]


The new flowerpecker was first observed and photographed on 18 June 2009 by Richard Webster, a tropical ecologist, at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge within the Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia. Further sightings and photographs of more than one individual were made over the next two days by Webster, David Edwards from the University of Leeds, and Rose Ann Rowlett. The lodge is sited within unlogged tropical rainforest, 180 m asl at 5°01’43”N 117°45’5”E. The sightings were made from an observation platform on a suspended walkway within the rainforest canopy. The height of the birds sighted was over 40 m above ground level.[4] Subsequently the Spectacled Flowerpecker has been photographed at the Maliau Basin in Sabah, Labi Road and the Belalong Canopy Walkway in Brunei and in Central Kalimantan. [1]


The first bird sighted had prominent white arcs above and below the eyes, creating a broken eye-ring effect. The white throat was bordered by a diffuse dusky malar, merging into grey sides separated by a white stripe from the throat to the centre of the underparts. The upperparts were slate-grey. There were prominent, pure white pectoral tufts emerging from the carpal joints. The eyes, bill and legs were dark. A different bird seen on 20 June was less well marked, with paler grey plumage, less prominent eye-rings and pectoral tufts, and a less defined stripe down the breast, which, as well as the vent, was marked with a hint of yellow. Edwards et al. (2009) suggest that two adult individuals were seen, with the more strikingly marked bird the male and the less well-marked bird the female.[4] The prominent broken white eye-rings suggested the use of the term "spectacled" for the common name.[2][3]



When first observed the birds at Danum Valley In Sabah were feeding in a fruiting epiphytic mistletoe that was parasitising a large Koompassia excelsa tree. Other species of flowerpecker seen visiting the same mistletoe included the yellow-breasted, yellow-rumped, yellow-vented and orange-bellied flowerpeckers.[4] A bird photographed by Hanyrol H Ahmad Sah from the Belalong Canopy Walkway in Brunei was feeding on the ripe orange berries of an epiphytic Medinilla plant at canopy level. [2] At Bukit Batikap in Central Kalimantan, Nick Boyd photographed Spectacled Flowerpeckers feeding on Viscum mistletoes berries.[3]


On 19 June Webster heard two very short, hard flight-notes, similar to those made by the fire-breasted flowerpecker, when an individual alighted and departed. On 20 June Edwards saw and heard a putative male (well-marked) bird singing, with a series of about 12 high-pitched see notes, rising and then falling in pitch.[4]


Edwards et al. (2009) speculate that the spectacled flowerpecker is a rainforest canopy specialist, relying on ephemeral epiphytic fruits such as mistletoes, being highly mobile and rarely, if ever, visiting the understorey of the forest - explaining why the new species remained undetected for so long.[4]

Naming the Spectacled Flowerpecker[edit]

To name a bird new to science it is necessary to designate a TYPE specimen, normally a skin held in a public museum which is available to compare with other bird skins, to ensure that the bird being described is a unique new species. As the Spectacled Flowerpecker has never been collected there are no specimens in museums so it is impossible to give the Spectacled Flowerpecker a scientific name. Recent sightings and photographs indicate that the Spectacled flowerpecker is a regular visitor to the Belalong Canopy Walkway in the Ulu Temburong National Park,Brunei Darussalam. In Jan 2017 the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER) at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) issued a press release announcing their intention to capture, collect and name the Spectacled Flowerpecker by trapping a visiting flowerpecker at the Belalong Canopy walkway.


  1. ^ Phillipps, Quentin; & Phillipps, Karen (2011). Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo. Oxford, UK: John Beaufoy Publishing. ISBN 978-1-906780-56-2. 
  2. ^ a b Reuters. "Spectacled flowerpecker" bird found in Borneo, scientificamerican.com, 13 January 2010, accessed on 15 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b Walton, Doreen, science reporter. New bird species found in rainforests of Borneo, BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk, 14 January 2010, accessed on 15 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e Edwards, David P.; Webster, Richard E. & Rowlett, Rose Ann (2009). "‘Spectacled Flowerpecker’: a species new to science discovered in Borneo?" (PDF). BirdingASIA. 12: 38–41. 


External links[edit]

  • Photograph of a spectacled flowerpecker, from newsimg.bbc.co.uk