Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Australian Night Parrot rediscovered?

The Night Parrot has not been seen in Australia since 1990, when a mummified specimen was found, probably of a bird that was hit by a vehicle. That was the first confirmed sighting in almost 80 years. Now, apparently, there has been a fairly reliable sighting near where a large mining operation is being proposed: Night Parrot Management Plan

4 comments:

Mike's Soap Box said...

This is Tom Nelson, I saw the photos and the video of the parrot and its not the Night Parrot its a parrot with a weird plumage. I did a lot of research on this parrot. I measured the wing beats, the observers did not see the key field marks, the song could be a jay, I haven't been laid in months and dammit no one is going to rediscover anything that was once thought of as extinct till I say its ok! The only good fro mthis rumor of this parrot is that I can create another blog "My Thoughts II - The night Parrot"! Now I can spend all waking hours attacking ornithologists/researchers while hiding in my bedroom behind my monitor. Again the sighting is poor and I will prove it!

Signed
Tom "I need to get laid" Nelson

Anonymous said...

(Critically) Endangered species at Cloud Break in the Pilbara

1. Night Parrot (Pezoprous occidentalis or Geopsittacus occidentalis)

The Night Parrots as seen by the FMG consultants near Cloud Break are described by the WA Government Gazette of 11 April 2003 and the 6 Feb 2005 WA Government Gazette as "Fauna that is rare or is likely to become extinct" and "in need of special protection". The Night Parrot is listed by the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) as “endangered”, is described elsewhere as “critically endangered”, and is also listed under the Japan Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1981/6.html as part of the Official List of Australian Endangered Birds. It is subject to the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Diversity Act 1999.

Pezoprous occidentalis and Geopsittacus occidentalis are both names for the same Night Parrot. The latter name was used by ornithologist/artist John Gould in 1861.

To illustrate the rarity or near extinction of the Night Parrot, one can quote the Australian Museum online http://www.amonline.net.au/birds/research/night_parrot.htm :
Until the 1870s, sightings appeared to be very occasional. The period between 1870 and 1890 was the most productive known, with numerous sightings and another 20 specimens were collected. Of the 22 museum specimens collected last century, F. W. Andrews, working for the South Australian Museum, collected 16, all during this period.
Following this period of abundance, there was a marked decline in confirmed sightings.
They became rarer from the mid 1880s, stopping almost completely by 1900. A number of writers who knew the birds in 1875-1885 noted that it had apparently gone from their area entirely since then. Of the few sightings of Night Parrots between 1890 and the 1930s, the only specimen was one accidentally shot in Western Australia in 1912.
There were a number of reported sightings in the 1960s and early 1970s, but none could be confirmed. In 1979, a team from the South Australian Museum saw a several birds in the far north-west of South Australia. In 1990, a dead specimen was discovered at the side of a road in south-western Queensland. Seven separate sightings were made in 1992 and 1993 near Cloncurry, a short distance north of where the specimen was found. An attempt to confirm these sighting the following year was not successful. Publicity campaigns in several states have elicited observations, but despite organised searches, no birds could be found.

Graeme Phipps in “Threatened Species in Australian Aviculture” http://home.vicnet.net.au/~avicons/threatenedspecies.html
lists the Night Parrot as “critically endangered”.

The Department of Environment and Heritage at:
http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/action/birds2000/pubs/night-parrot.pdf
suggests that the total population could be as few as 50 breeding birds in 5 sub-populations.
One could speculate on the possibility that the Cloud Break – Fortescue Marshes colony may represent the last surviving Night Parrots anywhere, a matter of very great significance.

2. Bilby (Macrotis Lagotis)
The Bilby for which the FMG consultants found active burrows in the Cloud Break area is described in The WA Government Gazette of 11 April 2003 and the WA Government Gazette of 6 Feb 2005 as "Fauna that is rare or is likely to become extinct" and "in need of special protection".

The Macrotis Lagotis is the sole type of Bilby known to be surviving in Western Australia.

The following information comes from the WA CALM website where there is a handy map:
http://www.calm.wa.gov.au/plants_animals/pdf_files/sp_bilby.pdf
under the heading: Bilby Macrotis lagotis (Reid,1837)

Distribution
The Bilby formerly occurred across the arid and semiarid zones of 70 per cent of continental Australia. The species is now restricted to 20 per cent of its former range, and survives in parts of the Tanami Desert (Northern Territory), Pilbara and southern Kimberley (Western Australia), and an isolated population in southwest Queensland.

Habitat
Bilbies were formerly known to occupy habitat ranging from Eucalyptus and Acacia woodlands in the wheatbelt of Western Australia to Triodia grasslands in the desert regions. They require sandy or loamy soil in which to burrow. Bilbies are now only found in areas where foxes do not occur or are not abundant; these include the driest and least fertile parts of their former range. The major habitats they now occupy include sparse grasslands among clayey and stony soils (in south-west Queensland), and mulga scrub and hummock grasslands on sandplains or along drainage or salt lake systems (Western Australia, Northern Territory). ((extract from CALM website ends))

3. Black-necked Stork
The Black-necked Stork is listed as “threatened” by Australian Wildlife Conservancy at its website: http://www.australianwildlife.org/threatenedwildlifelist.asp
Three black-necked storks were sighted by CALM ecologist Dr Peter Kendrick in the Fortescue Marshes on 2 June 2003, at a distance from Cloud Break presently unknown to this writer. The Black-necked stork is not mentioned in the FMG Public Environmental Review. Perhaps FMG should have ensured that its consultants establish whether the Black-necked Stork, in addition to the Bilby and Night Parrot, might be at risk from exploration, mining and transportation activities associated with the Cloud Break site. Additional species not yet listed by FMG may also be in this category.

Conclusion
The WA Government Gazette of 6 February 2005 lists both the Bilby and the critically endangered Night Parrot as "Fauna that is rare or is likely to become extinct" and "in need of special protection". These creatures, plus possibly the Black-necked Stork, may be at risk from FMG operations, and their presence in a designated Conservation Area in the vicinity of a prospective mine should at the least require full disclosure to the market, plus the exercise of very great caution in any decision to approve mining or to proceed with mining.

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

Well, I would like to thank the person who wrote the second comment...that is probably the most relevant and informative blog comment in the history of the Internet!

I have always been interested in Australian birds, and have birded that great country twice. Last fall I had the thrill of seeing several Bourke's Parrots come to a small waterhole near Alice Springs at dusk. I can only imagine what it must have been like for those scientists to see Night Parrots do the same thing.

Please keep us informed on the status of the Night Parrot, near Cloud Break or anywhere else in Australia!!!

Farias said...

Well, here is the thing...
Down here in Australia, reports keep coming from birders, but basically none of than actually have any fisical evidence, picture, videos etc.. Plus none turn up to be very well known biders, therefore most of this reports have been ignored.