Sighting Of A Lifetime: Elusive Night Parrots Found In WA For The First Time In 100 Years!

Mar 10, 2023by Olivia Harper - F&F

Four passionate bird watchers in Western Australia have made the discovery of a lifetime, spotting the incredibly rare night parrot species, which hadn’t been seen in WA for an entire century! Let’s take a look.

Birdwatchers Group WABirdwatchers Group WA

Image: Adrian Boyle, Nigel Jackett, George Swann, Bruce Greatwich

Four Friends Hear Unrecognisable Bird Calls, Leading Them To Discover A Bird Not Seen In 100 Years!

Birdwatchers are absolutely elated after snapping a photo of the endangered night parrot, deep in the Western Australia arid bushlands. The species were only rediscovered in QLD in 2013, and now a new population has been found in northern Western Australia, where the last confirmed sighting was over 100 years ago.

Bruce Greatwich, Nigel Jackett, George Swann and Adrian Boyle were pursuing a nine-day bird watching trip at an undisclosed location, described as an interior salt lake system, in northern WA, when they first detected the elusive birds by call.

“We started hearing the calls early on, the first couple of nights,” Bruce said. “What we were hearing was very interesting, we knew the calls of the birds in the area, so we were excited, but cautious.”

Birdwatchers Capture One Of Australia's Most Mysterious Birds Soar Out A Patch Of Spinifex!

Later in the trip, to their astonishment, one of the green and yellow patterned night parrots darted out from a clump of spinifex in front of George! He quickly alerted the other three, who returned to the spot and saw it again – and while the sighting was fleeting, it was long enough to capture a photograph.

After seven years of the four dedicated to locating the bird, examining detailed maps, trekking into likely habitats, and spending evenings in the state’s arid interior listening for unusual bird calls, they shared;

“We were elated, as excited as you could be,” he said. “To have something happen that we have worked towards for a long time and lots of people have tried to achieve … we were clearly very, very excited.”

Night Parrot Close UpNight Parrot Close Up

Image: Steve Murphy

The Future Of The Night Parrot In Western Australia

The night parrot was described as looking quite like a squat budgerigar, with green, yellow, and black banding across its feathers. Its nocturnal and secretive behaviour, and concealed nesting, means that it was likely hidden to all but the most committed bird watchers!

The recovery team has been in touch with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW), and Steven Murphy – who led the Night Parrot Recovery Team’s research in Queensland, says “DPAW is working really hard to map out a plan of course to make sure this golden opportunity isn’t lost.”

The team of four birdwatchers say their quest to find the birds was never to get glory, but to help conserve the species, and hopes their contribution will inspire more research in WA to help protect the species!

This wonderful discovery gives scientists and bird-lovers hope that perhaps the night parrots are not threatened, and have simply been living in secret all these years. It will also now throw into doubt the construction and development of mining operations in this region of the outback!

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