New community of night parrots discovered

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In a joint statement issued today, Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and the Queensland Government announced that a new community of night parrots had been discovered in Central West Queensland.

The discovery was made last month by AWC’s senior field ecologist, John Young, and is in addition to that made by AWC at Diamantina National Park in late 2016. AWC Chief Executive, Atticus Fleming, said the night parrot calls were heard by John Young—the man who rediscovered the night parrot—and his partner, in a remote area in the national park.

 

Night parrot talk: Wildlife
Night parrot by Steve Murphy © Bush Heritage Australia

 

“The expedition to Goneaway involved exploring likely night parrot habitat by foot and all-terrain vehicle in extreme heat and challenging conditions, highlighting the challenges involved in studying and protecting this nocturnal parrot.

“AWC has developed a habitat model which will guide further exploration by AWC ecologists of potential night parrot habitat in central west Queensland, in partnership with the Queensland Government, and elsewhere across Australia.

 

“…each new discovery provides hope that the night parrot may be more elusive than endangered.”

 

Once thought to be extinct, as a result of the bird not being seen between 1912 and 1979, night parrots have made a minor comeback. However, it is estimated that there are less than 250 birds left and it remains listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Finding this new community may hint at there being more birds that anticipated. Atticus comments, “It is another exciting chapter in the night parrot story where each new discovery provides hope that the night parrot may be more elusive than endangered.

”Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Environment Minister, Dr Steven Miles congratulated AWC ecologists and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service officers.

 

Live night parrot held by ornithologist Steve Murphy talk: Wildlife
Live night parrot held by ornithologist Steve Murphy © Bush Heritage Australia

 

“The fact that scientists are confident they have heard the call of the night parrot at another Queensland location is terrific news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It comes off the back of AWC scientists finding a new community late last year in Diamantina National Park, just 50 kilometres west of Goneaway National Park.”

Dr Miles said scientist would continue to work to establish the scope of the discovery. While further investigation is required to obtain more evidence to determine the potential range of the known night parrot population, these initial reports are cause for excitement.”

To protect the newly discovered population from poachers on Diamantina National Park, the Queensland Government has moved rapidly by declaring a Restricted Access Area over part of the park and providing increased management presence.

 

Spinifex savanna Night Parrots talk: Wildlife
Spinifex savanna – under CC license

 

A similar response is being considered for Goneaway National Park, however the park is more remote than Diamantina National Park, and the lack of formal road access significantly reduces the risk posed from public access to this remote area.Dr Miles said these steps were additional to the Queensland Government’s efforts in partnership with Bush Heritage Australia to secure the night parrot’s habitat at Pullen Pullen Reserve, a 56,000-hectare property in western Queensland.

“I look forward to a close working relationship between AWC, Bush Heritage, other landholders and government to protect the night parrot,” he concluded.

Photographs of the night parrot are as rare as the bird itself. Those used in this article were taken on 4 April 2015 by ornithologist/ecologist Steve Murphy and partner Rachel Barr, who captured and radio tagged a live individual in South-Western Queensland.

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