New bird species named after Salim Ali

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Zoothera salimalii

The bird named after Dr. Salim Ali

An international group of ornithologists named a newly discovered species after Dr. Salim Ali, the birdman of India, Twenty-nine years after his death. The scientific name honors the Indian ornithologist who shaped generations of ornithologists and also contributed to the better understanding of birds.

Himalayan Forest Thrush, Zoothera salimalii, thus goes the name of the species, which has been described from northeastern India and adjacent parts. The research team that identified the species included scientists from Sweden, India, China, the U.S., and Russia.

The Himalayan forest thrush is the fourth new bird species to be discovered in India since the country’s independence in 1947.

Per Alstrom from the department of animal ecology in Sweden-based Uppsala University and Shashank Dalvi from the Wildlife Biology and Conservation WCS-India Program at the Bengaluru-based National Centre of Biological Sciences, discovered the species when they were studying birds at different elevations in the mountains of western Arunachal Pradesh. They first noticed that there were two birds present at different elevations that were apparently of the species of same kind named Plain-backed Thrush, having two diverse types of songs.

The scientists suspect that the Himalayan forest thrush and Alpine thrush began as one species and then evolved into two distinct populations to cope with their very different habitats. It has an even more musical call than that of the Himalayan forest thrush.

Himalayan Forest Thrush is common in eastern Himalaya and so far believed to be a sub-species of Plain-backed Thrush.

This is the first Indian bird to be named after late Dr. Salim Ali, who was closely associated with Bombay Natural History Society as researcher, honorary secretary and president.

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