For almost four years, LSU research associate Daniel Lane was haunted by the memory of an unusual, yellowish bird. He and an associate caught a glimpse of it while bird watching in Peru. They even recorded some of its song. Right away, they knew it was something new. Something different.
Now, thanks to Lane, a specimen of that bird previously unknown to science rests in a Lima museum and it will soon bear a name of Lane's choosing. As the discoverer of what could be a new species or, perhaps, a new genus, Lane will also be the first to author a scientific description of the bird.
The process will take some time, but, for someone who says his interest in birds began when he was "three or four," it's all a labor of love.
Lane, a New Jersey native who earned his master's from LSU in 1999, says his quest for the mystery bird dates back to 2000. As a part-time international bird-watching tour guide for WINGS Tours, Lane was one of the leaders of a group near the Manu National Park in Peru. He and fellow guide Gary Rosenberg, also an LSU graduate, spotted the bird along one of the park's major roads. Unfortunately, almost as soon as it was there, it was gone and no one else in the group had seen it.
The bird remained in Lane's mind as he returned to lead tours in the area for the next few years, but it didn't reappear. "After three years, I was starting to doubt my sanity," said Lane.
Then, last year, the pair finally saw it again, and this time, the rest of the group saw it as well. They were also able to make a lengthy recording of its song, a critical part of ornithological study. Nevertheless, they were unable to obtain a specimen and, therefore, remained reticent about announcing their find.