Pullen Pullen

Pullen Pullen Reserve is located in Queensland

Established: 2016
Area: 56,000 ha
Location: Queensland
Traditional Owners: 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.

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.

Pullen Pullen is a harsh landscape of Spinifex and Gibber plains interspersed by rocky 'jumpup' mesas and water courses lined by gidgi and Mulga trees.
Pullen Pullen is a harsh landscape of Spinifex and Gibber plains interspersed by rocky 'jumpup' mesas and water courses lined by gidgi and Mulga trees.
We're now working closely with scientists 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 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 guiding conservation tasks to protect the Night Parrots from feral animals, wildfire and grazing pressure from cattle and kangaroos.

Night parrot painted by William T. Cooper
Night parrot painted by William T. Cooper
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

Dr Steve Murphy inspects a Night Parrot roost.
Dr Steve Murphy inspects a Night Parrot roost.

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's under-represented in the National Reserve System.

Plains Wanderer. Photo by Ron and Di Davies
Plains Wanderer. Photo by Ron and Di Davies
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'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.

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.

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 David Shevill (A/Director – Conservation Operations, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection)
  • Mr Simon Nally (Department of the Environment, Australian Government)
  • Mr Martin Heller (Fortescue Metals Group)
  • Mr Bruce Scott (Desert Channels Queensland and Grazier)
  • Mr Rob Murphy (Executive Manager North Region, Bush Heritage Australia)
  • Mr Marty McLaughlin (Principal Ranger (Central Region), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service)
  • Dr Alex Kutt (Healthy Landscapes Manager, North Regional Team, Bush Heritage Australia)
  • Mr Nick Leseberg (University of Queensland)
  • Dr Rod Kavanagh (Australian Wildlife Conservancy).

Pre-Order the FORTHCOMING book – Night Parrot: Australia's most elusive bird

Night Parrot Book

This new book by Penny Olsen (released in September) documents the competitiveness and controversy, the triumphs and adventures of the history of the Night Parrot. With no confirmed records for 100 years, the parrot attained almost mythical status: it was the challenge of a lifetime for birdwatchers and an inspiration to poets, novelists and artists. The book explores what we're now unravelling about the mysteries of its biology and ecology and what's still left to learn.

Each copy purchased through Andrew Isles Natural History Books will be signed by Penny Olsen and come with a limited edition Night Parrot bookmark. A portion of the profits from each sale will be donated to Bush Heritage to fund Night Parrot research and conservation programs.

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

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