February 18, 2009—A rare quail from the Philippines was photographed for the first time before being sold as food at a poultry market, experts say.
Found only on the island of Luzon, Worcester's buttonquail was known solely through drawings based on dated museum specimens collected several decades ago.
Scientists had suspected the species—listed as "data deficient" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's 2008 Red List—was extinct.
(See related bird photo: "Rare 'Smiling' Bird Photographed in Colombia.")
A TV crew documented the live bird in the market (above) before it was sold in January, according to the Agence France-Press news agency.
Michael Lu, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, told AFP the bird's demise should inspire a "local consciousness" about the region's threatened wildlife.
"What if this was the last of its species?" Lu said.
However, the buttonquail is from a "notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds," according to the nonprofit Birdlife International, so the species may survive undetected in other regions.