coxen's fig parrot ponderings

To: "bird aus (E-mail)" <>
Subject: coxen's fig parrot ponderings
From: "Roberts, Greg" <>
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 18:27:37 +1100
The coxeni race of the fig-parrot in south-east Queensland and north-east
NSW is regarded as one of Australia's rarest birds.

Earlier this year, a coxen's fig-parrot was reportedly seen on the banks of
the Burnett River in an area which was to be flooded by the controversial
Paradise Dam. I penned a newspaper story about the sighting because it had
been vetted by scientists responsible for the species' recovery program and
found to be authentic.

I have since had occasion to visit the locality of the sighting with the
observers. The area was essentially cleared farmland with limited vegetation
along the river and totally unsuitable for fig-parrots. It transpired that
their bird was seen in flowering callistemons. The observers told me they
had never seen little lorikeets in the area. They agreed they saw no blue
colouration on the bird. I have reason now to doubt the authenticity of the

State and federal authorities have accepted as authentic dozens of reported
sightings of coxen's fig-parrot in recent years, but I wonder if they have
been too readily optimistic. I think it significant that there have been no
sightings by reliable observers for many years of  birds actually feeding in
trees. They have not been seen by experienced observers who have thoroughly
looked for them in such sites as south-east Queensland's Conondale and
Blackall ranges, where they once occurred. The records are usually the quick
fly-by, a call or a nesting hollow of dubious provenance. I suspect some,
like the Burnett River birds, are mistaken little lorikeets.

I fear this bird is far more rare than is thought, and quite possibly may be

Greg Roberts

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