What’s very bad for one parrot turns out to be great for the species. A rare night parrot in Queensland, Australia was flying and struck a barbed-wire fence which instantly killed it, its headless body found the next day. However, ornithologists already had believed the parrot species to be extinct, so finding the dead parrot happily confirmed that Australia’s most elusive parrot was still around. The night parrot is Australia’s only nocturnal parrot, and it feeds and nests on the ground. Populations crashed in the 19th century, probably due to the introduction of non-native species which preyed upon the ground-dwelling bird.
The Government has kept the find secret to avoid birdwatchers searching for night parrots while it does a survey to find more.
A road-killed night parrot found in 1990 near Boulia, in northwest Queensland, by Australian Museum scientists was the first confirmed record of the species since 1912. That find forced millionaire businessman Dick Smith to part with a $50,000 reward he had offered for evidence that it existed. Both the Boulia parrot and the latest bird were headless.
An unsubstantiated report of night parrots in Western Australia’s Pilbara in 2005 held up a planned $2 billion iron ore mine.
The rare night parrot was first discovered by John Mcdouall Stuart in 1845 and formally named by John Gould in 1861 (Geopsittacus occidentalis).