Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.

Conservation and the Holy Grail: The Story of the Night Parrot

Graham H Pyke and Paul R Ehrlich

Pacific Conservation Biology 20(2) 221 - 226
Published: 01 August 2014


The Night Parrot Pezoporus occidentalis, known from just two specimens and with no confirmed sightings for just over 100 years, and having declined from being one of the most widespread of Australian birds, has surely been amongst the most enigmatic birds of the world and deservedly the ʻholy grailʼ for many birders. Amazingly, a population of this species has recently been re-discovered by John Young and the ʻquestʼ is over, but swift action is now required lest the ʻgrailʼ slip from our grasp. Steps must be taken to protect and manage the newly-located population, and to better understand the biology of the species and the reasons for its widespread decline. Much of this decline occurred before the end of the 19th century and must therefore have resulted from broad factors associated with earlier landscape changes, such as cat predation and altered fire regimes. Searches for additional Night Parrot populations also seem warranted. Progress toward these goals would benefit from acceptance of the reasonable accumulation of ʻunconfirmedʼ observations of the species and further utilizing the large numbers of ʻamateurʼ birders who would doubtless be keen to be involved. We suggest that the Night Parrot should now be viewed as an ʻiconʼ for conservation, possibly even an ʻindicatorʼ for how successful we are in terms of conservation in general. With his discovery of the Night Parrot, John Young has thus made a significant contribution to conservation, opening a new realm of necessities and possibilities.

© CSIRO 2014

Export Citation Cited By (3)