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Ramping up the fight for Australia's rarest bird

Rob Murphy (Executive Manager North)
Published 27 Apr 2021 by Rob Murphy (Executive Manager North)

I'm thrilled to announce that the conservation of Australia’s critically endangered Night Parrot at our Pullen Pullen Reserve on Maiawali country in central Queensland has been given a $300,000 boost by the Queensland government.

There are believed to be between 10 and 20 Night Parrots at Pullen Pullen making them one of the rarest birds in the world.

The Pullen Pullen population are the only Night Parrots in the world subject to ongoing ecological research.

The $304,500 grant was awarded by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science under its NatureAssist program to fund a number of targeted management actions aimed at protecting the Night Parrot including:

These actions will build on the current understanding of Night Parrot population numbers, trends and breeding habits, and ensure the ongoing protection of Night Parrot habitat.

Protections for Pullen Pullen were strengthened in 2020 when the Queensland Government granted it Special Wildlife Reserve status, awarding it the same level of protections as a National Park. With Queensland the only state or territory to provide national park level protection to private land, the declaration of Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve was also an Australian first.

We purchased Pullen Pullen in 2016 after the Night Parrot was discovered in the area in 2013 in what was the first confirmed live sighting of the bird in more than a century. Until the discovery of a dead Night Parrot in western Queensland in 1990 and again in 2006, there had been no definitive records since around 1870.

Night Parrots are nocturnal, ground-dwelling and build their nests in hummocks of spinifex grass. Their primary threats are inappropriate fire regimes and introduced predators, particularly feral cats.

Using the results of research conducted on Pullen Pullen, Night Parrots have now been discovered at several locations in Western Australia. Most of these discoveries have been the result of work by Indigenous ranger groups.

Flying avocado, fat Budgie... whatever way you look at it the Night Parrot is one of the rarest birds in Australia. Photo by Nick Leseberg. Flying avocado, fat Budgie... whatever way you look at it the Night Parrot is one of the rarest birds in Australia. Photo by Nick Leseberg.
Feral cats are destructive and dangerous predators, making them one of the Night Parrot's biggest threats to survival. Feral cats are destructive and dangerous predators, making them one of the Night Parrot's biggest threats to survival.
At Pullen Pullen, Night Parrots nest in hummocks of spinifex grass. Photo by Annette Ruzicka. At Pullen Pullen, Night Parrots nest in hummocks of spinifex grass. Photo by Annette Ruzicka.
Pullen Pullen's spectacular rocky mesas or 'jump-ups'. Photo by Stephen Kearney. Pullen Pullen's spectacular rocky mesas or 'jump-ups'. Photo by Stephen Kearney.
Beautiful Maiawali country. Photo by Wild Vista. Beautiful Maiawali country. Photo by Wild Vista.

Night Parrot stories

Night Parrot.

14/02/2024 14/02/2024

Pullen Pullen’s Night Parrot

While the population seemed to be doing well, October 2019 brought bad news; a dead juvenile Night Parrot was found caught in the Mount Windsor boundary fence.

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Maiawali Custodians, other Indigenous rangers and groups walking through Night Parrot habitat. By Lachlan Gardiner

BUSHTRACKS 27/10/2023

The next chapter for the Night Parrot

The sharing of Night Parrot knowledge at Pullen Pullen Reserve, Maiawali Country, bolsters the species’ protection.

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BLOG 02/06/2023

Learning more about the Night Parrot

In May 2023, six indigenous ranger groups travelled to Pullen Pullen Reserve, Maiawali Country, in Western Queensland. It's here that the Night Parrot was rediscovered in 2013, after it was thought to have gone extinct. Bush Heritage purchased the property in 2016 and have been working tirelessly to protect the mysterious bird. 

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The Night Parrot.

17/05/2022

Bush Broadcast: Protecting the Night Parrot at Pullen Pullen

Join our staff as they chat about the work undertaken to protect this rare and mysterious bird.

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Nick Leseberg looking out over Pullen Pullen. Photo Lachlan Gardiner.

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2022

Called to the night

Nick Leseberg took an unconventional path to one of the nation’s most high-profile ecological rescue projects: conservation of the elusive Night Parrot.

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BLOG 22/03/2022

Front line conservationists on the fight to protect Pullen Pullen

Following the Night Parrot's discovery in 2013, many uniquely positioned conservationists have been working to protect Pullen Pullen - by deepening our understanding of the bird itself and by protecting the birds' habitat and its country.

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BLOG 27/04/2021

Ramping up the fight for Australia's rarest bird

New funding for Pullen Pullen will allow us to continue and expand vital-on ground conservation work for the critically endangered Night Parrot.

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A feral cat in the scrub. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

BUSHTRACKS 15/04/2021

The problem with cats

Feral cats kill an estimated 2 billion animals in Australia every year, but nuanced solutions on Bush Heritage reserves and partnership properties across Australia are helping to turn the tide.

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BLOG 23/09/2020

Pullen Pullen protections strengthened

Pullen Pullen Reserve on Maiawali country in western Queensland has become Australia's first ever Special Wildlife Reserve.

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BLOG 13/03/2019

Nick Leseberg on Night Parrot research

Media reports around a Night Parrot controversy involving scientific fraud involve a different conservation organisation. Nick Leseberg from University of Queensland has a field update from our work at Pullen Pullen.

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BLOG 19/02/2019

The Night Parrot & friends

We often get asked whether the Night Parrot is related to other parrot species that are similarly green with yellow and black 'barred' patterning such as the Budgerigar and Kakapo.

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BLOG 23/08/2018

Predators! Keep calm, just carrion

Have you ever stopped to think, how does the provision of resources in the landscape affect wildlife patterns in general? If you add a heap of additional unexpected food resources, what then happens to the array of carrion eaters and predators, and how does this affect other smaller animals?

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BUSHTRACKS 27/03/2018

Opportunistic breeders

In December last year, a researcher captured photos of a young Night Parrot on our Pullen Pullen Reserve in western Queensland. PhD student Nick Leseberg estimated the parrot was two-to three-months-old at the time, meaning it likely hatched in early September.

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BUSHTRACKS 27/03/2018

Creatures of the night

A feral cat detection dog has recently been out to Pullen Pullen Reserve in western Queensland, where feral cats are thought to pose a dangerous threat to the resident population of endangered Night Parrots, as well as many other native animals.

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BLOG 21/09/2017

Removing internal fences

Like much of the Australian outback, Pullen Pullen was once used for cattle grazing which relies upon a system of internal fences to partition specific areas of land to be grazed or rested when required. Naturally, this subdivision is not a requirement for our conservation purposes. So while boundary fences are needed to keep the cattle out of the reserve to protect the night parrots food resources the internal fences are unnecessary and a potential risk.

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BLOG 30/06/2017

Fencing in the food

Do we really need a fence on our Night Parrot reserve? Fences are a requirement in pastoral rangelands and are vital infrastructure to keep large feral herbivores off reserve, eliminating their impacts on vegetation and critical habitats.

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BLOG 26/06/2017

Meet Night Parrot Nick

Our ecologist Alex Kutt interviews PhD student Nick Leseberg to find out a little more about his latest field trip and data he's collecting about Night Parrots at Pullen Pullen Reserve in western Queensland.

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BLOG 26/06/2017

Secrets & parrots

A recent essay by Professor David Lindenmayer, one of Australia's most renowned conservation scientists, reinforced the reasons why the location and call of the Night Parrot were initially kept under wraps.

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BLOG 14/02/2017

The fine art of fencing Night Parrots

Fences are vital infrastructure that keep feral herbivores out, and help manage their impacts on vegetation and critical habitats. At Pullen Pullen Reserve this poses a conundrum. We want to keep any stray herbivores out to protect the floodplains, which are significant feeding locations for the Night Parrot, without creating an unexpected obstacle for the birds.

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BUSHTRACKS 06/12/2016

Night Parrots spreading their wings

For the last 80 to 100 years, people have been writing and talking about Night Parrots as if they were extinct. Now, we’ve got recordings of their calls, we’ve got information about nesting, and we’ve tagged two with tracking devices. I struggle to find the words to describe how exciting that is. - Steve Murphy, lead Night Parrot researcher.

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BUSHTRACKS 11/04/2016

Maggie nose best

Meet Maggie, a four-legged friend working hard to protect the world’s only known population of Night Parrots on our newest reserve, secured recently with the help of Bush Heritage supporters.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/09/2015

Back from the brink

Ornithologist Dr Stephen Murphy is leading efforts to research the newly discovered population of Night Parrots. Dr Murphy takes a moment to discuss the significance of this work.

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BUSHTRACKS 21/09/2015

Ghost of the outback

Bush Heritage Australia is leading the recovery effort to secure one of the world’s rarest birds, the mysterious Night Parrot. In 2013 Queensland naturalist John Young set the ornithological world atwitter after sighting and photographing a bird that has been the ‘Holy Grail’ for birdwatchers, the enigmatic Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis), a bird so rare and elusive that it's bordered on the mythological.

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