Call of elusive night parrot to be monitored by outback Queensland grazier

Elusive Night Parrot of Australia

The search for the elusive night parrot continues in outback Queensland with audio technology now being used to listen for the birds’ call.

Elusive Night Parrot Conservation at Nonbah StationRecorders are being placed in paddocks at Noonbah Station, south-west of Longreach to record the call of the elusive night parrots at dawn and dusk.

Night parrots have already been detected north-west of Noonbah at Goneaway and Diamantina National Park as well as at Pullen Pullen Reserve.

Ecologist with the Queensland Naturalists’ Club, Harry Hines, said they are keen to see if the population extends south.

“There’s a chance, particularly given the proximity to Goneaway, Diamantina and Pullen Pullen, where we know there is a small group of birds at the moment,” he said.

The night parrot was considered to be extinct, with no photos of the bird on record.

Small numbers of parrots have since been located across remote areas of the state and very recently in Western Australia.

Station owner also an avid naturalist

Noonbah Station is located south-east of Goneaway National Park where the night parrot was found only this year.

Station owner and avid naturalist, Angus Emmott, will move the two audio recorders around his property for the next two months.

“I’m confident there is a reasonable chance of hearing the call of the night parrot because it’s the same piece of habitat as the Goneaway Tablelands,” Mr Emmott said.

“The night parrots in this part of the world like [to feed on] the long-unburned spinifex (Triodia longiceps).”

The recorders have been programmed to only record for an hour and a half at dawn and dusk — the time when Mr Hines said the night parrots were likely to call.

The audio will then be put through a computer program where the birds’ calls will be picked up.

Mr Hines said the information would then be passed on to interested parties.

“We will contribute that to a much broader scale project that the University of Queensland is doing, surveying populations of night parrots,” he said.

Ultimately, it will be up to Mr Emmott whether the presence of night parrots on his property is made public, as the bird’s elusive and rare nature is highly valued.

Source: ABC News Australia

Saving the Night Parrot of Queensland

Elusive Night Parrot of Australia

Night Parrot of AustraliaThe low-flying night parrot was thought to be extinct until spotted again in 2013 by a wildlife photographer John Young. He managed to snap a photo and a video of the rare parrot, which sent the conservation community into frenzy.

As a result last week the Australian government approved a 56,000 hectare sanctuary in southwestern Queensland, which will be managed by Bush Heritage Australia. The site will be fitted with surveillance cameras to deter poacher and traps to keep feral animals at bay. The location very much like its new resident will remain cloaked in secrecy.

“It’s such an iconic bird and probably the holy grail for bird watcher. At the moment it remains the only population of night parrots in the world, which is why it’s so intriguing.” says Jim Radford, the manager of Bush Heritage science and research.  Mr Radford estimates that there could be a population of up to 30 birds in the reserve.

Since the 1970s there has been only a few sightings but no confirmed reports of the rare parrot.  This small green and yellow bird was very common in the 1800s until it was virtually wiped out by predators.  The night parrot is on the list of 20 priority bird species as part of the federal government’s Threatened Species Strategy.

The new reserve will be called Pullen Pullen (the Aboriginal name for the parrot).

For more information on the project visit the Bush Heritage Australia website.

The Story of Kakapo, the “night parrot”

kakapo

The Kakapo: A Survivor

Story written by Ben Mirin

kakapo

There are few places on earth that could provide hospitable habitat for a nocturnal, flightless parrot that weighs nine pounds (in the bird world, that’s a lot). But until the first humans arrived in New Zealand some 800 years ago, the Kakapo, whose name means “night parrot” in Maori, thrived there, alongside many other exceptional bird species. In the absence of mammalian predators, the food chain that evolved had feathers at every level, and the Kakapo’s primary concern became avoiding gigantic Haast’s Eagles soaring overhead. To escape these sharp-eyed aerial hunters, the Kakapo evolved stunning emerald green plumage to blend in with the foliage, and it held off on feeding and breeding until the sun had set. It was a system that worked.

Humans: The destroyers

Then we humans showed up, in our boats full of cats, rats, and a host of other furry, fanged invaders, and more or less flushed hundreds of thousands of years of finely tuned evolutionary work down the drain. The so-called “Land of Birds” quickly became a land of sheep, pastures, and a stupidly high number of rodents that decimated endemic birds—including the Kakapo, whose eagle-defense systems were pretty much useless against hungry mammals. Many bird species went extinct altogether, and the last remaining Kakapo retreated to the remotest mountaintops in southern New Zealand, where stoats and feral cats couldn’t follow.

Humans: The re-Discoverer

kakapoIt took hundreds of years for humans to start responding to their impact on the Kakapo population. In 1894, Richard Henry, one of New Zealand’s earliest naturalists, was appointed caretaker and curator of the Resolution Island reserve. There, he launched the world’s first systematic bird transfer program when he relocated 572 Kakapo to the island in an effort to save the species. But despite his efforts, the plan backfired—Resolution Island was too close to the mainland, and the parrot’s predators swam across the channel and killed every last one.

After Henry’s effort failed, the Kakapo essentially disappeared for some 70 years. But then, in 1974, scientists got wind of reports of strange parrot-like tracks in the Fiordland mountains. They followed the lead to the high slopes where the tracks had been found, and began broadcasting recordings of the Kakapo call. To their delight, a male parrot responded.

The Kakapo’s Return

kakapoThe scientists eventually discovered a small population of 14 Kakapos, some of which could have been survivors from Richard Henry’s day, since the Kakapo is one of the longest living birds on earth, with a potential lifespan of 90 years or more. But a new challenge quickly emerged: All 14 birds were sex-starved males, with no females to carry the population into the next generation. Finding a female Kakapo became the researchers’ primary objective for the next four years, until they finally found a breeding population of Kakapo on Stewart Island. They relocated 38 males and 21 females to a sanctuary, where after decades of rigorous protection and monitoring, the population has slowly climbed to 126. (Emphasis on “slow”— the Kakapo have a lek breeding system, which means females generally mate with only one male every few years.)

Even if progress has come at a rather glacial pace, the Kakapo’s return has played a vital role in restoring birds’ place at the center of New Zealand’s natural heritage. They’ve become a cultural touchstone for national identity, appearing everywhere from public murals to the nation’s currency, and they’re a rallying point for politicians and activists who campaign for the preservation and restoration of bird habitats. Kakapo reared in captivity even tour the nation as ambassadors for the species, raising awareness and promoting conservation. So for every bird that makes a comeback in New Zealand, some credit goes to the Kakapo.

Credits: Audubon