Teo, Allan & Y. C. Wee, 2009. Observations at a nest of Malayan Whistling Thrush Myophonus robinsoni in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysa. BirdingASIA 11: 95-97.
The above publication, just off the press, has attracted the attention of David Bakewell, Lim Kim Chye and Dr Anuar Shahrul. These three researchers are currently conducting a year-long study to clarify identification criteria and status of the Blue and Malaysian Whistling Thrush in Peninsular Malaysia. Their study involves capturing, photographing, measuring and subsequent release of whistling thrushes at various locations. These three researchers are of the opinion, based on photographs published with the above paper, that the bird is a Blue Whistling Thrush of the race dicrorhynchus. In their view, “this dull race of Blue Whistling Thrush is rather commonly misidentified as Malayan…”
The authors welcome their comment and look forward to the eventual publication of their findings and conclusions. It is through scientific interaction like this that we build on our knowledge and in the process learn from one another. After all, this is what science is all about.
The above comment, coming weeks after the above paper was published, brings to mind two very important points.
1. The camera is fast becoming an indispensible tool in modern-day birding – for serious birders, not necessarily for recreational birdwatchers. A clear, crisp image of a bird that is published in a scientific journal will allow specialists researchers to correct a misidentification if there is one. In the absence of photographic evidence, a misidentification can never be corrected and the mistake will be buried forever.
2. The importance of publishing findings and observations in scientific journals can never be over-stressed. Privately circulated newsletters and web-publications have their use. They are useful mainly to citizen scientists and maybe a few professional scientists. But these informal publications do not always reach those who matter – researchers and scientists who are specialists in their own fields.
The above publication on the Malaysian Whistling Thrush has been web-published as far back as March 2008 in five parts: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, with images attached. There is also a post on whistling-thrushes in Malaysia.
However, these did not attract the attention of serious researchers. And if they did, maybe these informal publications were not taken seriously. Only when the consolidated observations were formally published in a scientific journal, in this case BirdingASIA, were the contents taken seriously.