A rare Large-Billed Reed Warbler, thought to have been “lost” by ornithologists, has been spotted in India after 140 years.

“Except for a single bird found in Sutlej Valley in Himachal Pradesh in 1867, the Large-Billed Reed Warbler has not been sighted in India since, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a city-based research group, said here.

The Warbler was discovered by a team of birdwatchers in Kolkata, who say they saw it feeding amidst the tall bamboos of Narendrapur, a town 10 kms from the West Bengal capital.

The wetland bird, a litte smaller than a house sparrow, has a longer beak than the sparrow, has an olive-brown back with a whitish underside, and “is drab in appearance”.

From a distance one could almost mistake it for a sparrow.

Photographs of the bird were sent to BNHS here to confirm its identity and ornithologists identified it from preserved specimens of other warblers in BNHS’s bird collection.

The warbler’s identity was also confirmed by Bikram Grewal, renowned author of several books on Indian birds and bird expert from Delhi.

The bird was discovered in Thailand in March last year after 130 years, in a wastewater plant, near Bangkok. It was trapped live by Philip D Round, Associate Professor and Regional Representative of the Wetland Trust.