Surprising New Evidence of Rare Bird Discovered
It must be incredibly frustrating when you are sure that a species exists but you can never manage to catch a glimpse of it. That’s exactly the problem which has plagued scientists in Australia who have been searching for the illusive night parrot. This bird had been considered extinct until a naturalist managed to photograph one of the birds in Queensland back in 2013. A second night parrot was then spotted in Western Australia.
The Night Parrot of Australia
Ecologists from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy had been hoping to find evidence of the parrot in South Australia but had drawn a blank until a dramatic recent discovery. John Young and fellow ecologist Keith Bellchambers were examining zebra finch nests around the remote Lake Eyre when they found a night parrot’s feather in one of the nests.
This was the first evidence of the night parrot’s existence in South Australia for more than a century. The scientists were extremely excited to find the feather and believed that it would have been collected from within a few hundred metres of the zebra finch nest. They had been conducting searches in the hope of collecting evidence after blurry images which could have been a night parrot were captured by a camera trap.
Night Parrot Feather Confirmed
The curator of ornithology at the Western Australian Museum subsequently confirmed that the feather did belong to a night parrot. The next step in the research is to map the distribution of the species, which was last recorded at Lake Eyre in 1883. Attempts will be made to assess the population size using song meters and camera traps.
The World’s Most Mysterious Birds
Researchers had feared for many decades that the nocturnal, desert-dwelling night parrot was extinct, with no sightings having been made between 1912 and 1979 and only a handful since. In 2012, the Smithsonian Magazine rated the parrot at number one among the world's five most mysterious birds. But the conclusive evidence of the parrot’s existence which emerged in 2013 has sparked major interest in the species.
The parrot is endemic to Australia and is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which estimates there are only 50-250 of the parrots in the wild. These numbers are thought to be declining.
It will be interesting to see if there are further sightings of this illusive parrot. Heaven knows how the researchers are going to count how many birds remain in the wild. It is amazing to think that there could be as few as 50 examples of a species in existence.