Night Parrot Interview this morning

To: David Andrew <>, birding aus <>
Subject: Night Parrot Interview this morning
From: robert morris <>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2013 07:05:29 +0000
Hi David
Having listened to John and seen his presentation - I am just beginning to get 
a sense of how sensitive this species is and how sensitive the habitat is, and 
the pressures the area is under.
I am a bird watcher, ecologist and nature conservationist.  I would love to 
see, watch and study night parrots. However, in this situation, and probably 
for the foreseeable future, I think that birdwatchers should not be allowed to 
go near the site - they should forget about getting another tick and if they 
really care about the parrots, they should donate towards their conservation 
without expecting to go and see them. 
With regards to publicity - I think that John and his team should be able to 
raise awareness without opening this precious population up to possible 
I'm not sure how keeping the site safe and undisturbed while the species is 
studied will be counter-productive. Perhaps in the future, your dream might be 
realised, but that might be 5 or 10 years away!

Rob Morris 


Brisbane, Australia 

> From: 
> To: 
> Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2013 16:04:11 +1000
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Night Parrot Interview this morning
> Naturally I was excited as anyone to hear of the first photos of Night 
> Parrot; I congratulate John Young and look forward to seeing the video 
> footage. And naturally I have a few comments: 
> Any notion that the public (read: birdwatchers) should be prevented from 
> seeing NPs is bound to be counter-productive. It should be obvious that only 
> a limited number of people would be prepared to travel to SW Qld to look for 
> Night Parrots (which may continue to be elusive), not ‘slavering hordes of 
> twitchers’, to paraphrase someone else on this forum. (I am always amused by 
> the notion that any rare bird sighting in Australia will automatically 
> trigger an invasion of  ‘twitchers’. This is not the UK – birdwatchers simply 
> do not exist in the same numbers here. The most so-called twitchers (all of 
> them scientists or bona fide researchers, as well as birdwatchers) I have 
> ever seen in one place was on the Strzelecki Track, shortly after the 
> whereabouts of Chestnut-breasted Whitefaces became generally known (again, 
> thanks to the efforts of a largely solo, dedicated birder), where a ‘horde’ 
> of 14 people descended to look at the birds for a few minutes.)
> Which brings me to a fact that is still true today as it was then (more than 
> 20 years ago) when I first started birding – public interest in birds, while 
> increasing, is still minimal in Australia. The vast majority of the country 
> hasn’t heard of, and probably doesn’t give two hoots about, the Night Parrot. 
> The unfortunate corollary of this is that birders, ornithologists and bird 
> conservations are too few to put any real pressure on politicians to allocate 
> funding and resources for Night Parrot research or conservation.
> In my view, if these birds prove to be resident then the area should be 
> managed by an organisation such as Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), 
> which fences some of its reserves and intensively controls feral animals. 
> Night Parrots are already protected under state and federal legislation; 
> government decision-making is slow and subject to available funds and 
> political whims; and governments have already demonstrated a lack of 
> resources and will in matters such as the extinction of the Christmas Island 
> Pipistrelle and the recent decimation of Bilbies at Currawinya. 
> Justifiably, birdwatchers (me included) will want to see this amazing bird 
> for themselves. And of course Mr Young is entitled to profit by his find: the 
> practice of paying to be shown exciting birds and other wildlife by local 
> experts is well established around the world; I’m sure many people would be 
> happy to pay to watch Night Parrots. Disturbance to Night Parrots has been 
> self-regulating for decades and a few – even a few dozen – ‘twitchers’ are 
> unlikely to cause any lasting harm if managed sensibly. But if birders are 
> prevented from seeing the bird (and what would be the point of that?) the 
> recent sightings will probably only cause intensified searching  elsewhere, 
> possibly with undesirable or unforeseen consequences. 
> In further defence of the comparatively benign practice of birding, in my 
> experience photographers have recently become a more intrusive presence at 
> some sites than birders armed only with binoculars. With the advent of cheap 
> digital SLRs it is easier than ever to photograph birds. However, it is just 
> as hard as ever to obtain a good bird photo, a fact which doesn’t seem to 
> stop both amateurs and professionals from trying. Recently, I have 
> encountered photographers (comically attired in heavy camouflage gear) 
> playing Gurney’s Pitta calls loudly and incessantly in Thailand (no sign of 
> the pittas, unsurprisingly); a kindly and concerned lodge operator in India 
> who refused to take anyone to see a den of Desert Cats because photographers 
> constantly and blatantly ignored requests to keep their distance; and a 
> female Snow Leopard forced to stare down the barrels of literally dozens of 
> telephoto lenses or risk abandoning her kill at a remote valley in the 
> Himalaya. In my experience, birdwatchers tend to look and move on; 
> photographers continually strive for the best possible shot (even when 
> hopelessly under-equipped and often to the detriment of the subject) and may 
> spend hours or days in its pursuit. (Naturally there are exceptions to these 
> generalisations but please don’t write in.) 
> Even if there is a flurry of ‘twitchers’ wanting to see Night Parrots, 
> interest will soon die down and the alleged ‘flood’ will quickly slow to a 
> trickle. The birds themselves will continue to stymie the efforts of casual 
> birders, even if the call becomes well-known (I’m betting it won’t). 
> Ideally John would allow other responsible people also to see the parrots, 
> but even that won’t stop people looking anyway; it won’t prevent accidental 
> or serendipitous discoveries of this or other populations; and the nature of 
> the bird’s ecology will probably keep it safe for some time yet, slavering 
> twitchers notwithstanding.
> Happy trails,
> David Andrew
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