Australian Night Parrot Near Extinct Night Bird of the Australian Outback
Scientific name: Pezoporus occidentalis
The Night Parrot is a small ground-dwelling nocturnal parrot only found in Australia. Until very recently it was thought to be extinct. Fortunately a very small population of these birds has been re-discovered in remote parts of Australia.
As its name suggests this parrot only comes out at night. It rarely flies, only doing so if frightened, to move short distances in its habitat and in search of water.
The night parrot is approximately 25cm in length with a wingspan of 45cm. It has bright green feathers with black and yellow spots, streaks and bars. The underside of its body is yellow. Males and females are similar in appearance. They live for about 10 years.
Because the night parrot lives in the extremely dry areas of Australia where water is in short supply; it has been suggested that its nocturnal behaviour is an adaptation to conserve water by staying hidden and protected during blistering heat of the sun during the day.
The night parrot is sometimes referred to as the world's most mysterious and elusive bird. It hadn't been seen for over a hundred years and very little is known about its behaviour.
Night Parrot -Habitat Where Does a Night Parrot Live?
The Night Parrot once lived over a huge area of the Australian Outback. In recent times it has only been sighted in a few remote locations in Australia. (shown as 'red' dots on the map).
This rarely seen ground-dwelling parrot lives amongst the the shrub and grasslands of the arid and semi-arid interior of Australia. It hides and nests in the grasslands during the day and only comes out to forage for food in the night. The birds appears to be highly nomadic. That is to say that they move from place to place in search of seeding spinifex grass and water.
The night parrot's nest consists of a small tunnel through triodia grass or shrubs leading to a nest made of a few twigs.
Night Parrot -Diet What Does a Night Parrot Eat?
The exact diet of the night parrot is not known. It is believed that it feeds primarily on seeds, especially that of Triodia grass (common referred to as spinifex). It is also thought that it eats leaf matter, roots and tubers.
Night Parrot -Reproduction Night Parrot Babies
Very little is known about the night parrot's life cycle.
It is thought that they mate during the rainy sessions and that the female lays about four eggs in a nest made of a few twigs hidden in the spinifex grass.
Is the Night Parrot Extinct? Conservation Status of the Australian Night Parrot
Because these birds only come out at night and rarely fly, their exact numbers are not known. It is estimated that only 50-250 birds exist in the wild today.
While a number of sightings of these birds had been made since 1912, when these birds were first thought to have become extinct, the first definite proof that they were still alive occurred in 3 July 2013 when a photographer named John Young succeeded in photographing some these birds.
On the 4 April 2015 in South-Western Queensland, ornithologist Steve Murphy and Rachel Barr succeeded in capturing one of these birds, radio tagging it and setting it free. For some unknown reason they named it "Pedro". They have kept the precise location of their find secret to protect the animal from poachers and harm. The Queensland government responded quickly by declaring an area of 56,000 hectares around the region where the birds were sighted as a reserve to protect the species.
The night parrot was once quite common in the Australian outback until about 1880. The exact cause of this bird's decline to near extinction is not known. It is suspected that human introduction of carnivores such as the dingo, fox and cat could be contributing factors. It is also thought that the introduction of other non-native animals such as the rabbit, camel and livestock also degraded the land and water supplies leading the extinction of the night parrot.
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