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Pullen Pullen Reserve Photo: Wild Vista Digital Production
Pullen Pullen Reserve Photo: Wild Vista Digital Production

Pullen Pullen

Established:

2016

Area:

56,000 ha

Location:

Queensland

Traditional Custodians:

Maiawali people

Pullen Pullen Reserve was established as a sanctuary to protect what was, at the time, the only known population of endangered Night Parrots in the world. 

This nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird is famous for avoiding detection, and has been described by the Smithsonian Institution as ‘the planet’s most elusive bird’. Prior to 2013 the last living specimen had been 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.

Global interest was so intense the exact location was kept a closely guarded secret to protect the endangered birds from disturbance.

An elusive Night Parrot. Photo Nick Leseberg.

The Queensland Government’s approval to transfer a former pastoral lease to Bush Heritage recognised the significance of this land for securing survival of the Night Parrot.

We've been working closely with scientists to map the habitat, learn about Night Parrots, and put conservation planning in place to increase the bird’s chances of survival.

Dr Steve Murphy and his team captured more than 100,000 hours of sound data to better understand habitat use and aspects of breeding biology. This information is vital for to help us protect Night Parrots from feral animals, wildfire and grazing pressure from cattle and kangaroos.

Pullen Pullen is a harsh landscape of Spinifex and Gibber plains interspersed by rocky 'jumpup' mesas and water courses lined by Gidgee and Mulga trees.

What Pullen Pullen protects

Pullen Pullen Reserve is located in a bioregion that’s under-represented in the National Reserve System. The region is home to other endangered and vulnerable birds such as the Plains-wanderer (critically endangered) and Grey Falcon.

The reserve’s landscape features sandstone, claystone and siltstone plateaus (or mesas), skirted by long unburnt spinifex that’s 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 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, Executive Manager Conservation Operations

What we’re doing

In 2020 we successfully installed important accommodation infrastructure that will give our land managers, ecologists, research partners and volunteers a sheltered base to work from. 

In this remote landscape where temperatures readily reach mid-40s, a reprieve from the elements will give us a chance to stay longer on reserve with each trip and potentially to continue conservation work in the landscape all year round.

We’re confident this is a big step forward that will lead to more conservation gains, as well as help us realise opportunities to share knowledge and support connection to Country for Maiawali People, the Traditional Owners of Pullen Pullen.

A Special Wildlife Reserve

Pullen Pullen had the honour of being declared Queensland’s first ever Special Wildlife Reserve.

This new class of protected area, legislated by the Queensland Government, provides National-Park-level protections to privately owned nature reserves.

Queensland is the only state to provide National-Park-level protection to private land, making the declaration of Pullen Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve an Australian first as well.

This status will ensure the land is permanently protected from activities such as mining, timber harvesting or grazing. It’s also great recognition of the tireless work done since the land’s purchase in 2016, such as feral predator control and fire management across the reserve.

Studying the Night Parrot

Since purchasing the reserve, we’ve also worked closely with researchers and scientists to study the elusive Night Parrot and better understand its ecology and how best it can be protected.

Ecologist Nick Leseberg finalised his PhD on Night Parrot ecology before joining our staff. His research builds on three years of research at the reserve by Dr Steve Murphy.

Night Parrot researcher Nick Leseberg.

Nick made some important discoveries, including recording fledglings and finding nests. Updates from Nick and more of our research partners are available in the related stories below.

Cultural values

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.


Our work at Pullen Pullen to protect the Night Parrot is supported by the Queensland Government’s Nature Assist program.

Learn more about our Conservation Management Process and how we measure our impact or download a full ecological scorecard for the reserve below.

Stories from Pullen Pullen

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 07/09/2020

An arid zone conservation base

The Arid Zone Conservation Base project on our remote Pullen Pullen Reserve in Western Queensland is forging ahead and we look forward to completion as spring gives way to summer heat and rains.

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BLOG 08/04/2020

Buffel grass surveys

In 2018 and again in 2020 Dave and Sue Akers travelled to Pullen Pullen Reserve - our Night Parrot sanctuary - as volunteers to undertake buffel grass surveys.

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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 21/05/2018

Night Parrots & watching grass grow

Al Healy's research at Pullen Pullen is helping us understand the benefits of fencing cattle out of key Night Parrot feeding areas - the McFloodplains.

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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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