Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Another piece in an Australian ornithological puzzle – a second Night Parrot is found dead in Queensland

Andrew McDougall A H , Gary Porter A , Maree Mostert B , Robert Cupitt B , Sue Cupitt B , Leo Joseph C , Stephen Murphy D , Heather Janetzki E , Adrian Gallagher F and Allan Burbidge G

A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Rockhampton, PO Box 3130, Red Hill, North Rockhampton, Qld 4701, Australia.

B Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Longreach District Office, PO Box 202, Longreach, Qld 4730, Australia.

C Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, GPO Box 284, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

D Australian Wildlife Conservancy, 280 Hay St, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

E Queensland Museum, Vertebrate Zoology, Queensland Museum, PO Box 3300, South Bank, Brisbane, Qld 4101, Australia.

F Brisbane Bird Vet Veterinary Clinic, 248 Hamilton Road, Chermside, Qld 4032, Australia.

G Department of Environment and Conservation, Wildlife Research Centre, PO Box 51, Wanneroo, WA 6946, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: andrew.r.mcdougall@derm.qld.gov.au

Emu 109(3) 198-203 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU08018
Submitted: 17 April 2008  Accepted: 2 March 2009   Published: 13 August 2009

Abstract

We report on a specimen of the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) found dead in Diamantina National Park, in western Queensland. It was found on a low dissected tableland near the head of a small creek, in an area vegetated by sparse shrubland of Gidgee (Acacia cambagei), Crimson Turkey Bush (Eremophila latrobei) and Blunt-leaf Cassia (Senna artemisioides var. helmsii). Conditions were dry and the vegetation was not flowering or seeding. It is the second such specimen to be found dead in the region since 1990. The two specimens were found less than 200 km apart. Molecular analysis showed that both specimens are female. The latest specimen appears to be an immature undergoing post-juvenile moult. The specimen confirms a breeding event by Night Parrots in the region less than two years before its discovery in September 2006. Together with the 1990 specimen and other recent reports, it can be inferred that a population of Night Parrots exists in the region and that this is an encouraging sign that the species is not simply senescing to extinction. Diamantina National Park likely provides excellent opportunities to further study the ecology and management requirements of this enigmatic species.


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