A bird that scientists believed to have gone extinct decades ago has been rediscovered in Myanmar, after a team of scientists used a recording of its distinctive call to track it down.

Last seen in 1941, the Jerdon's Babbler, is a small brown bird similar in size to a house sparrow.  But according to a new report published in the latest edition of Birding Asia, a team of scientists in May 2014 managed to uncover multiple birds nesting in a small area of grassland in Myanmar's central Bago region.

Researchers focused their search in some of the few remaining patches of wild grassland left along Myanmar's Irrawaddy River, now one of the most heavily cultivated regions of the south-east Asian nation.  At one small patch of grassland near an abandoned agricultural station, the team heard what they thought to be the babbler's distinctive call, successfully recording and then playing it afterward.

Frank Rheindt, from the National University of Singapore, told AFP he was the first person to spot the bird during the survey, which was also carried out with members of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Myanmar's Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division.

"It was unbelievable," he recalled.

"We played the sound recordings and one of the birds came up from the reed beds. Like many song birds in reed beds you hardly ever see them, they only come out to defend their territory when they hear a territorial call."

"The bird readily came in to playback and revealed itself to be a magnificent adult Jerdon's Babbler," the team from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Myanmar's Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division and the National University of Singapore wrote in their report.

"Over the course of the next 48 hours, we repeatedly found the species at several locations in the immediate vicinity and managed to obtain blood samples and high quality photographs," they added.

Scientists warned that the bird's survival is far from certain given the pressure on Myanmar's few remaining areas of grasslands.

"This discovery not only proves that the species still exists in Myanmar but that the habitat can still be found as well," Colin Poole, director of Wildlife Conservation Society's regional hub in Singapore, said in a statement.

"Future work is needed to identify remaining pockets of natural grassland and develop systems for local communities to conserve and benefit from them," he added.

Myanmar's civilian government replaced decades of brutal military rule in 2011 and the new government has proved more open to foreign businesses and academic researchers compared to the military rule of the past.

The country features more species of bird than any other country in mainland Southeast Asia, with ornithologists believing the numbers could increase if more scientific research is conducted in the area.