Pink-headed duck art decoy by Philip Nelson.

About four years ago I first wrote about the Pink-headed Duck, a charming species related to the pochards (although how, exactly, is up for grabs, like so much duck taxonomy.) Maybe they’re extinct. Maybe they’re not. Presumably, only the swamps and reedy rivers of Myanmar hold the answer.

Now Global Wildlife Conservation is out to get some fresh evidence and hopefully re-discover the species, which was officially last seen in the 1949. They’ll survey local residents – who have other things to do with their days than upload sightings to eBird, and thus may prove an untapped well of knowledge – explore beyond the military checkpoints that hamper most travel in northern Myanmar, and even use elephants to explore in hopes of flushing the birds from cover rather than driving them deeper into it.

Co-sponsored by Bushnell and Charles Martell & Sons, this fascinating expedition is the first in a proposed series meant to track down species on the critically endangered/extinct border in the hopes that they, and their remaining habitats, can be protected. Members of the expedition – which include Richard Thorns, Errol Fuller, Pilar Bueno, and John Hodges – will update the world through a blog over the coming months. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this, and I wish them all the best of luck.

Image: Pink-headed duck art decoy by Philip Nelson, courtesy of Global Wildlife Conservation.

Written by Carrie
Carrie Laben, after years of writing and birding in New York, moved to Montana to pursue her two great passions more effectively. She recently graduated with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Montana in Missoula. When she is not cranking out essays and speculative fiction stories, or wandering around on mountains failing to see the birds she is looking for, she is likely to be drinking one of the many fine local microbrews or attending a potluck with something from the local farmer’s market in hand. On Mondays from 3 to 3:30 Mountain Time you can find her answering questions about birds on live chat at