Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A guy walks into a restaurant in the Philippines and orders roast fowl. “How would you like it?” asks the waiter. “Rare,” he says…

Well, they don’t get much rarer than this.

In January, a team making a documentary about traditional bird-trapping methods in Luzon captured an image of a bird that was thought to be extinct.


The specimen caught the eye of ornithologist Desmond Allen, a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, who spotted it in a photo accompanying the credits. He identified its species as Worcester’s buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri), a bird whose presence hadn’t been recorded for more than a century.

Cause for celebration?

You might think so, except for one tiny problem: Shortly after being photographed, the bird was sold for about 20 cents and eaten! It made for a bittersweet experience for Filipino birdwatchers.

“What if this was the last of its species?” worried Mike Lu, the Wild Bird Club’s president.

For the moment, all ornithologists can do is watch and wait, in hopes that Worcester’s buttonquail will show up again someday, preferably with a little more lag time before dinner. At least the documentary crew came up with an apt name for their production: It’s called Bye-Bye Birdie.

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DanBing has lived in one Asian country and traveled in various others, engaging in activities that ranged from teaching English to playing Irish music to researching articles to marrying. The best part was usually the food, though the marriage hasn’t been too bad either. But of all his many accomplishments he is perhaps proudest of his close–extremely close–association with the person who wrote The Devil’s Food Dictionary: A Pioneering Culinary Reference Work Consisting Entirely of Lies (