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Night parrot fly-by makes hearts flutter

7 July 2017

Elusive night parrot caught on camera as it scurries across the ground in central west Queensland

Elusive night parrot caught on camera as it scurries across the ground in central west Queensland

They sat in stone-cold silence, in the dead of night, waiting for that rare opportunity to see one of Australia’s most endangered birds.

Researchers from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and The University of Queensland (UQ) had set out on an important field trip to central west Queensland in late April as part of ongoing research on the elusive night parrot.

Fortuitously, within a few minutes of patiently waiting, a night parrot fluttered in and landed on the ground within about 10 metres of the observers.

For several minutes they waited motionless as the beautiful little parrot scurried around on the ground and flew off a couple of times before returning.

Thankfully QPWS senior conservation officer John Augusteyn had his hand-held thermal camera ready and successfully captured the elusive night parrot with both still images and a short video.

This was the first time anyone had photographed the rare bird using thermal camera technology.

The images are an important step and will add to the vital research already being undertaken on the species by UQ, Bush Heritage, Australian Wildlife Conservancy and QPWS.

The research being carried out includes studies of roosting, nesting and foraging habitat of night parrots and their calling behaviour.

It builds on research by Dr Steve Murphy and has been bolstered by the detection of night parrots by Senior Field Ecologists from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in Diamantina National Park last year and Goneaway National Park in February 2017.

Minister for National Parks Steven Miles said the Queensland Government has moved quickly to secure the newly discovered population from disturbance and poachers on Diamantina National Park by declaring a Restricted Access Area and providing increased management presence.

“Anyone who enters the Restricted Access Area without authority risks a fine of up to $365,700 or two years’ imprisonment,” Mr Miles said.

“This was additional to the Queensland Government’s efforts in partnership with Bush Heritage Australia to secure the night parrot’s habitat at Pullen Pullen Reserve.

“I look forward to a close working relationship between AWC, Bush Heritage, other landholders and government in protecting the night parrot.”

University of Queensland PhD student Nick Leseberg said he was very grateful for the assistance QPWS were able to provide on this particular field trip. 

“Being able to test technology like thermal cameras is a huge help to my research,” Mr Leseberg said.

“It demonstrated the value of equipment like this for studying what is a very secretive nocturnal species that is often very hard to observe.”

Last updated
7 July 2017