Parrot feared extinct for 100 years is found in Australia
The elusive night parrot, a species thought to be extinct for about a century, has finally been captured and tagged in what has been hailed as a ‘holy grail’ moment.
The world’s most mysterious bird was found by researchers on a remote and arid 56,000-hectare stretch of land in Queensland, Australia. Scientists say the bird was “very common” in the 1800s until the introduction of feral animals almost wiped it out.
The Night Parrot is a medium-sized parrot measuring 22 to 25 cm in length, with a wingspan of 44 to 46 cm. The adults are predominantly bright green in colour, but with black and yellow bars, spots and streaks over much of the body, bright yellow colouring on the belly and vent, and black colouring on the upper surfaces of the periphery of the wings and tail. In flight, a prominent bar, off-white to pale-yellow in colour, becomes visible on the underside of each wing (Higgins 1999).
For around 100 years it was presumed extinct. Incredibly, we now have a second chance to save it! It has defied it’s poor odds.
After combing the bush for 18 months, conservation group Bush Heritage Australia captured and tagged a bird in April.
They are now establishing a 56,000 hectare reserve at a secret location in Queensland’s west to keep the precious bird safe from feral cats and poachers.
Amazing, for a nation famous for threatening species and extinctions, that this parrot has survived!
Dr Steve Murphy, the world’s foremost expert on the night parrot, who played a key role in verifying the discovery of this population, has since their sighting in 2013 by naturalist and photographer John Young, been researching the species and how best to protect them.
“‘I’ve been fascinated with Night Parrots ever since I was a small kid,” said Dr Murphy. “It’s their story that grabbed me, and what it represented about what’s happened to Australia since the arrival of Europeans.
“We’ve lost more native animals than anywhere else on Earth, and for a lot of years we thought we’d lost this one as well.”
To give the bird a second chance, Bush Heriage are negotiating to purchase a 56,000 ha section of a pastoral property in western Queensland where the bird was found. The population size is estimated at between 30 and 100 individuals.
Read more: Night Parrot- Bush Heritage Australia
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(featured image: Night owl, SA Museum)