Rare, near-extinct animal detected in NT

Northern Territory spinifex
Northern Territory spinifex

One of the most elusive birds in the world has been detected in the Northern Territory, after it hadn’t been seen in the region for more than 100 years.

Scientists have recorded the call of a night parrot near Alice Springs in a patch of spinifex after sunset. The call matches confirmed recordings of night parrots in Western Australia, with scientists who recorded the bird, Chris Watson and Mark Carter, saying the discovery was huge news for the Northern Territory.

Read more: 10 of the best bird watching spots in Australia

The night parrot
The night parrot

“We’re very confident that they’re probably much more common than we think,” Watson told the NT News. “The fact they’ve been found in Queensland and WA and now the NT indicates they’ve been very, very cryptic and very secretive.”

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Until the night parrot was photographed in outback Queensland in 2013, it hadn’t been seen alive since 1912, with scientists fearing it to be extinct. With the first photograph and video footage emerging in 2013, the bird was listed as rediscovered.

The little bird, which has proportions of an overfed budgerigar, was last spotted by amateur birdwatchers in Western Australia earlier this year, confirming its habitat reaches as far as East Queensland to Western Australia.

Read more: Great Australian getaways for animal lovers

The night parrot is a ground-dwelling bird that eats seeds of grasses and herbs. The parrot only flies in short bursts and gets its namesake from its nocturnal behaviour, feeding and moving at night. By day it hides in dense spinifex, emerging at dusk.

Threats to the night parrot are feral animals, habitat destruction, changed fire regimes and reduced availability of water.

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Conservation efforts are in place to ensure the protection of the night parrot’s habitat.

If you’re a bird lover, you won’t want to miss the Red Centre Bird Festival from September 20 to 24 in Alice Springs. 

Have you ever seen a rare animal in the wild? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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