As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

DNA reveals bird habitat shift surprise

5 March 2015 Last updated at 12:42

By Mark KinverEnvironment reporter, BBC News

A "dramatic" shift in behaviour and appearance obscured the identity of two birds on remote Indonesian islands.

The forest-dwelling birds are members of the pipit and wagtail families, but were not recognised as such, partly because they live in very different habitats to their relatives.

The madanga was considered to be a white-eye species, while the Sao Tome shorttail's affinities were uncertain.

DNA samples confirmed the their true identities, and it suggests that birds can change appearance in short periods of time.

"This is surprising because these birds do not look anything like a pipit or wagtail," explained co-author Per Alstrom from the Swedish Species Information Centre, based at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

He told BBC News that the birds also occurred in "completely different habitats".

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