'We Did It!' Researchers Photograph Bird Species Last Documented 140 Years Ago

Two researchers in Fergusson Island, Papua New Guinea, shared their enthusiastic reaction when they realized they had the first-ever photos of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon, a bird that hasn’t been documented in the past 140 years.

Footage recorded on September 29 by Jordan Boersma shows his colleague Doka Nason’s reaction to photos taken on their trailcam the day before. After a few moments of stunned disbelief, the two are heard and seen celebrating their find.

“This is the happiest moment ever,” Nason is heard saying. “My legs are shivering.”

Boersma told Storyful that he searched with Nason and a team of scientists and conservationists for a month for this critically endangered and potentially extinct species. The team were rewarded by the sighting on their very last day of their search.

“This species had not been documented since 1882 and had never been photographed,” Boersma told Storyful. “Seeing photos of this elusive, almost mythical, bird walking past our camera was the most surreal and fulfilling experience we could have ever imagined.”

Jason Gregg of the American Bird Conservancy captured video of the bird, including its charming tail movement. Credit: Jordan Boersma via Storyful

Video transcript

JORDAN BOERSMA: Just-- maybe just hit the side arrow?


JORDAN BOERSMA: Doka. Doka. Doka!

DOKA NASON: What is this?

JORDAN BOERSMA: It it. It's auwo. Isn't it auwo? We can't tell. We can't tell them. We have to have them look through the photos, too, I think.

DOKA NASON: We did it!



DOKA NASON: Oh, man. This is the happiest--


DOKA NASON: --moment ever.


Oh, man. Just can you just play it back?



My legs are shivering.

JORDAN BOERSMA: I can't believe it.

DOKA NASON: God. Jordan, that's an auwo.