Evidence of the elusive night parrot recorded in WA

By AG Staff 16 October 2017
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Evidence of the critically endangered night parrot— rarely even glimpsed by humans due to their nocturnal nature and small numbers— has been recorded by Paruku rangers in Western Australia.

A GROUP OF Paruku rangers have captured an image and a sound recording of what they say is evidence of the elusive night parrot in the Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia. 

This new evidence follows the discovery of a bright green feather belonging to the night parrot last month in the Lake Eyre region of South Australia, bringing new hope that there may be several surviving populations. 

The photograph was captured earlier this year by a camera trap set up by the Paruku rangers. It came as a surprise as the image was taken more than 1,500 km from the East Murchison region, which was the only confirmed location for the species in WA at the time.

While the two figures pictured in the image look like small green smudges, the sound recording— recorded in the same area that the image was taken  leaves no doubt as it features the unique bell-like ‘ding ding’ of these critically endangered parrots. 

For the traditional owners of the land there was never any doubt around the discovery. 

“(My grandmother) knows this bird and remembers hearing them and seeing them as a child, so we know that the night parrot has existed in this area,” said Paruku Ranger Coordinator Jamie Brown. 

Another traditional owner, Hanson Pye was happy to see the parrot after hearing so many stories about them from his grandfather. 

“I remember my grandfather telling me that one day I’ll see it, but this bird is very clever and only comes out at night,” he said. “It wobbles around when walking and comes out to eat the seed from the plants at night time.”

Recording the call of elsuive night parriot

Sound recordings have proven to be invaluable to making more discoveries of the bird. 

Recordings of the night parrot’s suite of calls were released online for the first time in february of this year, in hope that they would used to identify more birds. 

“From the beginning, we had the view that we should release the calls, so that anyone – amateur observers or professionals – will know what to listen for when they’re in night parrot habitat,” said Dr Allan Burbidge, chair of the Night Parrot Recovery Team.

The Paruku rangers confirmed in a statement that they would not be releasing the exact location of the parrot sighting for the birds protection.