Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

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The natural world has been a-buzz lately with new things—new island, now a new parrot? Apparently an Australian bird enthusiast, John Young, has made the claim of discovering a new type of parrot, which he has named the blue-browed fig-parrot. The Queensland Environmental Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr (what a title!) has endorsed the claim as authentic despite no governmental experts having seen the bird or its nesting hole. Young has produced only a photograph of the parrot, and has refused to reveal the bird’s location. This has produced some amount of speculation that the “discovery” is a fraud:

Brisbane egg and nest expert Gordon Beruldsen said Mr Young told him several years ago he had photographed Coxen’s fig-parrots at their nest. “He wouldn’t tell anyone where it was,” he said. “I’m not saying his photographs are not genuine, but it’s not hard to move colours around on photographs.”

Mr Young’s photograph – which he has offered to the media for $500 – shows a bird similar to the red-browed fig-parrot of north Queensland, but the brow is blue, not red.

Ornithologist Glenn Holmes, who was commissioned to study fig-parrots from 1987 to 1995, said the bill on the bird in the photograph had the same shape as that of a red-browed fig-parrot. Fig-parrot specimens from southeast Queensland tended to have larger and longer bills. “The parrot depicted conforms with northern birds,” Mr Holmes said.

Hat tip Mustafa Mond, FCD.