Area: 56,000 hectares
Pullen Pullen Reserve was established as a sanctuary to protect the only known population of endangered Night Parrots in the world. For this reason, it's location in western Queensland has remained secret.
The Queensland Government’s approval to transfer a former pastoral lease to Bush Heritage recognises the national and international significance of this western Queensland habitat for securing the future survival of the Night Parrot.
We're now working closely with Dr Steve Murphy, Australia’s foremost expert on the Night Parrot, to map the habitat at Pullen Pullen Reserve, learn about the Night Parrot’s biology, and put the necessary conservation planning in place to increase the bird’s chances of survival.
Dr Murphy and his team have captured more than 100,000 hours of sound data to better understand habitat use and aspects of breeding biology. This information is vital for guiding conservation tasks to protect the Night Parrots from feral animals, wildfire and grazing pressure from cattle and kangaroos.
Famous for avoiding detection, the ground-dwelling Night Parrot is nocturnal and is described by the Smithsonian Institution as the planet’s most elusive bird. The last living specimen was collected in Western Australia in 1912.
The Pullen Pullen Night Parrot population was discovered in 2013 by ornithologist John Young, who captured several photos and a few seconds of video footage of a live bird in western Queensland. Global interest in the discovery was so intense that the exact location was kept a closely guarded secret to protect the birds from disturbance.
The species has since been placed on the list of 20 priority bird species as part of the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Strategy.
Sanctuary at Pullen Pullen Reserve is critical for this special bird that still could be lost forever if we don’t work together for the long term to protect it
– Rob Murphy, Bush Heritage’s Executive Manager North
What we’re doing
The sanctuary approval is the latest step in a recovery effort that includes testing new technology, known as grooming traps, to control feral cats, and installing satellite cameras to catch poachers. Predation by cats poses one of the biggest threats to the survival of this rediscovered population of Night Parrots.
Unlike traditional cat control methods, the grooming traps use a sophisticated sensor system and programmable lures that we hope will target individual cats that have been caught on camera and are known to be a threat
– trap developer, Dr John Read, of Ecological Horizons.
What this reserve protects
Pullen Pullen Reserve is located in a bioregion that is under-represented in the National Reserve System.
The region is home to other endangered and vulnerable birds such as the Plains-wanderer (critically endangered), Painted Honeyeater (vulnerable), and Grey Falcon, and mammals such as the Kowari and Dusky Hopping-mouse.
Surveys are planned on Pullen Pullen that might confirm the presence of these and many other species.
The reserve’s landscape features sandstone, claystone and siltstone plateaus (or mesas), skirted by long unburnt spinifex that is important roosting and breeding habitat for Night Parrots.
Away from the plateaus, extensive gibber plains support chenopod shrublands that are dissected by braided watercourses lined with gidgee and mulga.
Pullen Pullen is the Maiawali word for Night Parrot. The sanctuary is on traditional Maiawali country and includes culturally significant areas such as worked stone scatters.
The Night Parrot Recovery Team
The Night Parrot Recovery Team ensures that all research and management activities undertaken in support of Night Parrot conservation are well coordinated and based on the best available knowledge.
The team members are:
- Dr Allan Burbidge, Chair – Principal Research Scientist, WA Department of Parks and Wildlife
- Dr Steve Murphy – Map IT, Lead Night Parrot Researcher
- Professor Stephen Garnett – Professor of Conservation and Sustainability, Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University
- Dr Julian Reid – Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
- Dr Rachel Paltridge – Director, Desert Wildlife Services, Alice Springs
- Dr Leo Joseph – Director, Australian National Wildlife Collection, CSIRO
- Mr Allan Williams – Director Threatened Species Unit, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
- Mr Simon Nally – Department of the Environment, Australian Government
- Ms Cath Bozanich – Fortescue Metals Group
- Mr Bruce Scott – Chair DCQ and Grazier
- Mr Rob Murphy – Executive Manager North Region, Bush Heritage Australia
- Dr Jim Radford – Science and Research Manager, Bush Heritage Australia
- Mr Marty McLaughlin – Principal Ranger, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
How the Night Parrot was rediscovered
In 2013 naturalist and wildlife photographer John Young captured several photos and a few seconds of video footage of a live bird in western Queensland.
After a search spanning many years, John was finally rewarded by an incredibly close-up encounter with a Night Parrot – often considered the 'holy grail' for birdwatchers and naturalists.
Global interest in the discovery was so intense that the exact location of this only known population remains a closely guarded secret to protect the birds from disturbance.
We'd like to acknowledge a generous donation from the Queensland Government in 2015 to help secure Pullen Pullen Reserve.