“Described by a single female specimen in the 1920s, two more females brought to collectors by local hunters in the early 1950s, and only glimpsed in the wild once,” he wrote. “Scientists have never observed a male. Its voice and habits are poorly known. Given its history of eluding detection, realistic hopes of finding the bird were slim.”
After setting mist nets across the forest, he and his team secured a male specimen with a “magnificent all-blue back” and a bright orange face. The discovery brought quite the declaration – “Oh my god, the kingfisher” – and led Filardi to liken it to “a creature of myth come to life”. And then, Filardi killed it – or, in the parlance of scientists, “collected” it.
“Our goal should be to document biodiversity and rigorously as possible through carefully planned collections so that it can be effectively preserved and understood,” one letter read. “Specimens from such collections and their associated data are essential for making informed decisions about management and conservation now and in the future.”
It might also galvanise support for efforts to protect the kingfisher’s island home.
A large number of people were incredulous, but indeed, this is still the name of the game for some researchers: find a beautiful, unique, or rare animal and then kill it in the name of something or another to justify the unnecessary slaying.
Moustached Kingfishers tend to roost in tall patches of closed-canopy forest and nest in holes in the ground.
Ultimately, with the blessing of the local community, the team euthanized the bird so they could bring the specimen back with them for further study, in hopes of answering questions about lineage and evolution of this cryptic species.