Largest-known night parrot population found in Queensland

By AG Staff Writer 25 October 2016
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Scientists have discovered a new population of night parrots in Diamantina National Park, giving a large boost to the known range of the critically endangered bird.

THINGS ARE LOOKING up for one of Australia’s rarest birds, with a new night parrot community found in central-west Queensland representing a significant increase in the known population and distribution of the mysterious bird.

Scientists with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy discovered active birds and nests in Diamantina National Park in central-west Queensland, with their findings later independently verified by renowned bird scientist and author Lloyd Nielsen.

In total the scientists were able to confirm – at seven locations in Diamantina – three nests with birds in the vicinity, one pair of night parrots spotted drinking, and three records of bird calls heard by two observers.

night parrot nest

Night parrot nest discovered in Diamantina National Park in central-west Queensland. (Image: Australian Wildlife Conservancy)

For some context of the significance of this discovery: other than a small handful of dead specimens since Europeans first discovered the night parrot in 1845, it wasn’t until 2013 that naturalist John Young managed to capture the first-ever photographs and footage of a live night parrot in a spot west of Longreach. 

“After more than a century in the shadows the elusive night parrot is once again in the spotlight,” said the Queensland Minister for Environment and Minister for National Parks, Dr Steven Miles, who added that, as of 21 October, the government has set up a Restricted Access Area over part of Diamantina to protect the newly discovered population.

“Anyone who enters a Restricted Access Area without authority or takes, uses or interferes with a natural resource risks a fine of $9,752 or up to $365,700 or two years’ imprisonment,” said Dr Miles, adding, “This will have no impact on public use of the park as the area in question contains no parking or visitor facilities.”