Mysterious night parrot rediscovered by Indigenous rangers in WA

Mysterious night parrot rediscovered by Indigenous rangers in WA

By Ashmeeta Subra  December 21st, 2023

A rare recording of an ‘extremely secretive’ night parrot has been captured by Indigenous rangers in Western Australia.

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The night parrot’s call was recorded in a remote area of the Gibson desert, 700 kilometres west of Alice Springs, and the recording could be crucial in efforts to protect the critically endangered bird.  

Kiwirrkura rangers had deployed five sound meters in remote areas to capture the elusive night parrot’s ‘predictable calling sequence’. Nolia Yurrkultji Ward, a Kiwirrkurra traditional owner, said that it was the first time she had heard the bird's call since she was a little girl.  

"I feel really happy, really excited," she told ABC News. 

It has been a long time since Ms Ward heard the night parrot. Growing up, she and her siblings considered the night parrot’s call a cue for bedtime, fearing it was an evil spirit – ‘mamu’. 

According to researchers, there are only about a dozen sites in the entire country where the bird is known to appear. Threatened by habitat loss due to fires and predators, the night parrot's remaining population is currently estimated at a few hundred. 

Rediscovered in 2013 – more than a century after it was last seen, the mysterious bird typically nests during the day in spinifex hummocks and emerges only at night. The Kiwirrkurra team are just the fifth Indigenous ranger team in the nation to have detected the bird. 

The Kiwirrkurra community, including ranger Conway Gibson, were excited upon rediscovering the bird. He expressed that he and his team are committed to safeguarding the rare species from feral animals and bushfires. 

"They're a rare bird that hasn't been seen for a while," Mr Gibson said. 

"Back in the old days, they'd probably see it. That's why we're trying to look after them, get more numbers in coming years."   

The Kiwirrkurra rangers are currently working to protect numerous unique and endangered species across their traditional country, including four threatened night bird species, the ninu (bilby) and the tjalapa (great desert skink). Find out more about the Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area and Rangers here

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

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Ashmeeta Subra

Ashmeeta has academic background in international relations and experience in the integrated marketing industry. She has always been interested in social and environmental issues, encouraged to make a positive impact in the world we live. At Planet Ark, she enjoys using her storytelling and communication skills to drive meaningful campaigns.

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