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Aboriginal Rangers Find Evidence of One of Australia’s Rarest Birds

  • Phil Mercer

Aboriginal rangers have discovered new evidence of one of Australia’s rarest and most mysterious birds. The Night Parrot was feared extinct until it was spotted in 2013. There have been precious few sightings since, but indigenous wildlife rangers say they have photographed one of the nocturnal, ground-dwelling birds in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

It is just an indistinct flash of pale green and yellow captured on a motion sensor camera but experts believe Aboriginal rangers have found a new population of one of Australia's most elusive birds. The blurry image taken in Western Australia's Great Sandy Desert, suggests the night parrot is fighting back from the brink of extinction. There is also an audio recording.

Before 2013, scientists didn't know what the call sounded like, then a night parrot was found in the state of Queensland.

Until recently, the colorful bird had not been seen in Western Australia for more than 100 years. The mysterious night parrot, a nocturnal, ground-dwelling creature, was thought to have died out due to a loss of habitat, bushfires and attacks by feral cats. The cats threaten the survival of more than 100 native species, and are thought to have killed off a number of birds and smaller mammals.

Alexander Watson, a biologist at conservation group, WWF Australia, who has worked with Aboriginal rangers in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia, says it is an extraordinary discovery.

“We have bought equipment like sensor cameras and bio-acoustic devices that listen for the night parrots and extraordinarily we have got a photo of a night parrot flying across one of the sensor cameras. It is a small, green parrot with a yellow belly and large head. It could only be a night parrot. We have surveyed in areas that traditional owners knew there were night parrots there,” said Watson.

The night parrot is sacred to First Nation peoples, and experts say Australia now has a second chance to save a bird that was once thought to have died out.

The exact locations of recent sightings are being kept secret to protect the recently-discovered populations. Researchers hope that more of these mysterious birds will soon be found in other parts of Australia.

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