For the first time in almost four decades, a new bird species has been discovered in the United States.
But there’s a catch: the Bryan’s shearwater was identified in a museum collection. Though others have been reported, the first living bird-in-hand example awaits finding.
“I’m pretty certain it’s still out there,” said Peter Pyle, an institution at the Institute for Bird Populations.
Pyle identified the shearwater while compiling a monograph on Hawaii’s birds. The specimen had been collected in 1963 at Midway Atoll, and was identified at the time as a little shearwater, an especially small member of its long-winged seabird family.
When he looked closer at the bird, Pyle thought it was actually a Boyd’s shearwater, though the match still wasn’t perfect: It had a shorter wing and tail. But genetic analyses showed that neither identification was correct.
Pyle and Smithsonian Institution ornithologists Robert Fleischer and Andreanna Welch named the new species Puffinus bryani after Edwin Bryan, a former curator at the