Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Article
Published: 2019-10-17
Page range: 451–464
Abstract views: 246
PDF downloaded: 413

A distinctive new species of flowerpecker (Passeriformes: Dicaeidae) from Borneo

Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, MRC 116, Washington, D.C. 20560, USA 
Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, MRC 116, Washington, D.C. 20560, USA 
Botany Department, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, MRC 166, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012, USA
Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Lot 218, KCLD, Jalan Tapang, Kota Sentosa, 93250, Kuching, MYS
Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, MRC 116, Washington, D.C. 20560, USA 
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
Aves Dicaeum holotype canopy mistletoe specialist


The enigmatic ‘Spectacled Flowerpecker’—a probable new bird species from the island of Borneo—was first sighted in the Danum Valley of Sabah, Malaysia in 2009. However, the absence of a holotype specimen has prevented its formal scientific description. Since then only a handful of reports from widely disparate localities across the island have emerged, all from lowland sites and often in close association with fruiting mistletoe. Here, we report the long-awaited capture of a specimen of this putative new species and confirm its morphological and molecular distinctiveness as a novel species in the genus Dicaeum.



  1. Ali, S. (1931) The role of sunbirds and flowerpeckers in the propagation and distribution of the tree-parasite, Loranthus longiflorus Dest., in the Konkan (W. India). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 35, 144‒149.

    Aukema, J. (2004) Distribution and dispersal of desert mistletoe is scale-dependent, hierarchically nested. Ecography, 27, 137–144.

    Barea, L.P. & Watson, D.M. (2007) Temporal variation in food resources determines onset of breeding in an Australian mistletoe specialist. Emu, 107, 203– 209.

    Beaman, J.H., Anderson, C. & Beaman, R.S. (2001) The plants of Mount Kinabalu. Volume 4. Natural History Publications (Borneo) Shn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu. 570 pp.

    Beaman, J.H. & Anderson, C. (2004) The plants of Mount Kinabalu. Volume 5. Natural History Publications (Borneo) Shn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu. 609 pp.

    Boyd, N.S., Phillipps, Q. & Fischer, J.H. (2016) The first record of the undescribed “spectacled flowerpecker”(species novum) for Indonesia. Kukila, 19, 42‒49.

    Braun, D.M. (2010) Meet Spectacled Flowerpecker, the world’s newest bird species. National Geographic Society. Available from: (accessed 24 June 2019)

    Chai, P.P.K. (1996) Development of Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary as a Totally Protected Area Phase I, The Management Plan. Kuching L.M.P. Co, Malaysia. 138 pp.

    Cheke, R., Mann, C. & Bonan, A. (2019) Flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Avaliable from: (Accessed 25 Jun. 2019)

    Chernomor, O., von Haeseler, A. & Minh, B. Q. (2016) Terrace aware data structure for phylogenomic inference from supermatrices. Systematic Biology, 65 (6), 997‒1008.

    Collar, N.J. (2009) New species in photographs: risks, rights and responsibilities. BirdingASIA, 12, 36‒37.

    Criscuolo, A. & Gribaldo, S. (2010) BMGE (Block Mapping and Gathering with Entropy): a new software for selection of phylogenetic informative regions from multiple sequence alignments. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10 (1), 210.

    De Bruyn, M., Stelbrink, B., Morley, R.J., Hall, R., Carvalho, G.R., Cannon, C.H., van den Bergh, G., Meijaard, E., Metcalfe, I., Boitani, L., Maiorano, L., Shoup, R. & von Rintelen, T. (2014) Borneo and Indochina are major evolutionary hotspots for Southeast Asian biodiversity. Systematic Biology, 63 (6), 879‒901.

    Desselberger, H. (1931) Der verdauungskanal der Dicaeiden nach gestalt und funktion. Journal of Ornithology, 79 (3), 353‒370.

    Doyle, A. (2010) “Spectacled flowerpecker” bird found in Borneo. Reuters. Available from: (accessed 24 Jun. 2019)

    Edwards, D.P., Webster, R.E. & Rowlett, R.A. (2009) ‘Spectacled Flowerpecker’: a species new to science discovered in Borneo?. BirdingASIA, 12, 38‒41.

    Fischer, J.H., Boyd, N.S., Maruly, A., Van Der Kaaden, A.S., Husson, S.J. & Sihite, J. (2016) An inventory of the avifauna of the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Forktail, (32), 26‒35.

    Gadagkar, S.R., Rosenberg, M.S. & Kumar, S. (2005) Inferring species phylogenies from multiple genes: concatenated sequence tree versus consensus gene tree. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 304 (1), 64‒74.

    Gaveau, D.L.A., Salim, M. & Arjasakusuma, S. (2016) Deforestation and industrial plantations development in Borneo. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), V2.

    Gill, F & Donsker, D. (Eds) (2019) IOC World Bird List (v9.2).

    Guntavid, J.P., Julaihi, L.C.J. & Supardiyono (1997) Ethnobotany. In: Kuswanda, M.P., Chai, P. & Jaya, I.N.S. (Eds.) ITTO Borneo Biodiversity Expedition 1997 Scientific Report. Collaboration between the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia and International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Yokohama, pp. 140‒154.

    Hoang, D.T., Chernomor, O., Von Haeseler, A., Minh, B.Q. & Vinh, L.S. (2017) UFBoot2: improving the ultrafast bootstrap approximation. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35 (2), 518‒522.

    Jarvis, A., Reuter, H.I., Nelson, A. & Guevara, E. (2008) Hole-filled SRTM for the globe Version 4. Available from the CGIAR-CSI SRTM 90m Database. Available from (19 August 2019)

    Kalyaanamoorthy, S., Minh, B.Q., Wong, T.K., von Haeseler, A. & Jermiin, L.S. (2017) ModelFinder: fast model selection for accurate phylogenetic estimates. Nature Methods, 14 (6), 587.

    Kannan, P. (1966) Ornithophily: A preliminary study of the reciprocal association between flowerbirds and birdflowers as observed in and around Bombay, M. Sc. Thesis, University of Bombay, India.

    Katoh, K. & Standley, D.M. (2013) MAFFT multiple sequence alignment software version 7: improvements in performance and usability. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 30 (4), 772‒780.

    Kimura, M. (1980) A simple method for estimating evolutionary rates of base substitutions through comparative studies of nucleotide sequences. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 16, 111–120.

    Kumar, S., Stecher, G., Li M., Knyaz C. & Tamura, K. (2018) MEGA X: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis across computing platforms. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35(6),1547–1549.

    Mayr, E. & Amadon, D. (1947) A review of the Dicaeidae. American Museum Novitates, no. 1360, 1‒32.

    Miller, M.A., Pfeiffer, W. & Schwartz, T. (2010) “Creating the CIPRES Science Gateway for inference of large phylogenetic trees” in Proceedings of the Gateway Computing Environments Workshop (GCE), 14 Nov. 2010, New Orleans, LA pp 1‒8.

    Morioka, H. (1992) Tongue of two species of Prionochilus from the Philippines, with notes on feeding habits of flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae). Japanese Journal of Ornithology, 40 (3), 85‒91.

    Munsell, A.H. (1990) Munsell Soil Color Charts. Kollmorgen Instruments, Inc., Baltimore Maryland,

    Myers, S. (2016) Birds of Borneo, Second Edition. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 336pp.

    Nguyen, L.T., Schmidt, H.A., von Haeseler, A. & Minh, B.Q. (2014) IQ-TREE: a fast and effective stochastic algorithm for estimating maximum-likelihood phylogenies. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 32 (1), 268‒274.

    Nyári, Á.S., Peterson, A.T., Rice, N.H. & Moyle, R.G. (2009) Phylogenetic relationships of flowerpeckers (Aves: Dicaeidae): Novel insights into the evolution of a tropical passerine clade. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 53 (3), 613‒619.

    Ong, S. (2018) High Up in the Borneo Canopy, a Likely New Bird Species Lurks. National Audubon Society. Available from: (accessed 24 June 2019)

    Peterson, A.T. (2014) Type specimens in modern ornithology are necessary and irreplaceable. The Auk: Ornithological Advances, 131 (3), 282‒286.

    Phillipps, Q. & Phillipps, K. (2014) Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Third Edition. John Beaufoy Publishing, Oxford, 372 pp.

    Reif, J., Hořák, D., Krištín, A., Kopsová, L. & Devictor, V. (2016) Linking habitat specialization with species’ traits in European birds. Oikos, 125 (3), 405‒413.

    Ronquist, F., Teslenko, M., Van Der Mark, P., Ayres, D.L., Darling, A., Höhna, S, Larget, B., Liu, L., Suchard, M.A. & Huelsenbeck, J.P. (2012) MrBayes 3.2: efficient Bayesian phylogenetic inference and model choice across a large model space. Systematic Biology, 61 (3), 539‒542.

    Salomonsen, F. (1960a) Notes on flowerpeckers (Aves, Dicaeidae) 1. The genera Melanocharis, Rhamphocharis, and Prionochilus. American Museum Novitates no.1990, 1‒28.

    Salomonsen, F. (1960b) Notes on flowerpeckers (Aves, Dicaeidae) 2. The primitive species of the genus Dicaeum. American Museum Novitates no. 1991, 1‒38.

    Smithe, F.B. (1975) Naturalist’s color guide. American Museum of Natural History.

    Sykes, B. & Loseby, T. (2015) More on Borneo’s ‘Spectacled’Flowerpecker. BirdingASIA, 23, 126‒127.

    Walton, D. (2010) New bird species found in rainforests of Borneo. BBC. Available from: (accessed 24 June 2019)

    Wilcove, D.S., Giam, X., Edwards, D.P., Fisher, B. & Koh, L.P. (2013) Navjot’s nightmare revisited: Logging, agriculture and biodiversity in Southeast Asia. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28: 531‒540.

    Zhang, J., Kapli, P., Pavlidis, P. & Stamatakis, A. (2013) A general species delimitation method with applications to phylogenetic placements. Bioinformatics, 29 (22), 2869‒2876.