Long-lost Night Parrot (Chronicle, Adelaide 30 Jul 1931)

To: "" <>
Subject: Long-lost Night Parrot (Chronicle, Adelaide 30 Jul 1931)
From: colin trainor <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2013 13:04:52 +0930
  Long-lost  Night  Parrot

  Bushman  Sheds  Fresh  Light  On  Mystery.

   ......on  the  habits  and  haunts  of  the  rare  and  priceless  -  night  
parrot  of  Australia  will  command  the  attention  of  ornithologists Mr J.  
Neil  McGilp  told  of  a  chat  he  had  concerning  this  quaint  bird  with  
Mr.  John  McDonald,  a  septuagenarian  bushman  in  the  far  north  interior 
 of  South  Australia, DURING  a  trip  into  the  interior  of  this  State,  
I  made  numerous  enquiries  about  the  long-lost  Night  Parrot,  Mr.  
McGilp  said  It  was  not  until  I  reached  Macumba  Station,  north-east  
of  Oodhadatta,  that  I  had  the  good  fortune  to  get  into  touch  with  
anyone  who  satisfied  me  that  he  knew  the  Night  Parrot. 

At  this  station  I  had  a  long  and  interesting  chat  with  Mr.  John  
McDonald,  and  from  him  secured  valuable  information.  Mr.  McDonald  knew 
 the  Night  Parrot  as  being  fairly  numerous  in  the  late  'seventies  
and  early  'eighties,  when  Jiving  on  Cootanoorina  Station,  south  east  
of  Oodnadatta.  At  one  time  he  had  four  young  ones  in  an  aviary.  
The  young  he  described  as  being  a  greyish  green  color,  with  a  black 
 spot  in  the  centre  of  each  feather.  They  used  to....
  NIGHT  PARROT,  object  of  great  interest  among  bushmen  and  
ornithologists..... spend  practically  all  the  time  at  the  bottom  of  
the  cage,  and  he  never  saw  them  on  the  perch,  which  was  from  3  
ft.  to  4  ft.  from  the  ground. 

 How  the  Night  Parrot  Nests

These  birds  were  taken  from  a  nest  in  the  centre  of  a  bunch  of  
porcupine.  The  nest  was  entered  through  a  tun  nel,  starting  low  down 
 on  the  side  and  almost  under  the  bunch.  At  the  end  of  the  tunnel  
there  was  an  en  larged  cavity,  in  which  the  birds  had  placed  small  
sticks.  The  nest  was  found  by  6eeing  the  bird  flush  out  when  a  mob 
 of  pack-horees  in  a  cattle  mustering  outfit  was  driven  over  a  patch 
 of  porcupine  grass,  thereby  disturbing  the  bird.  Mr.  McDonald  told  
me  that  he  had  never  seen  the  Night  Parrot  in  flight  unless  the  
bird  was  disturbed,  and  that  only  by  contact  _wlth  tlie  tou«n.  He  
had  never  seen  more  than  one  bird at  a  time.  When  flushed,  the  bird 
 flies  but  20  to  40  yards,  drops  to  earth  very  suddenly,  and  then  
runs  off  at  !  right  angles  to  its  line  of  flight.  I  learnt  that  
Mr.  McDonald  had  seen  at  least  three  or  four  nests,  one  of which  he 
 describes  as  being  in  a  samphire  bush.  This  bush  grew  plentifully  
in  the  vicinity  of  the  dry  salt  lakes,  and  was  of  a  low  dense  
structure.  The  nest  was  made,  by  form  ing  a  run-way  or  tunnel  into  
the  cen  tre  of  the  bush,  where  a  fair  number  of  small  sticks  made  
a  platform  be  tween  the  central  branches  of  the  bush.  In  no  
instance  did  Mr.  McDonald  find  the  bird  had  nested  on  the  ground  
under  the  bush,  but  said  that  during  the  day  time  the  bird  crouched 
 in  a  'squat'  —  similar  to  that  of  a  hare— under  a  dense  bush,  and 
 he  had  on  occasions  flushed  the  bird  from  this  position.  The  eggs  
were  four  in  number,  and  white,  and  about  the  size  of  a  crested  

Sweet  Two-Note  Whistle  When  camped  at  waterholes,  Mr.  Mc  Donald  had  
often  heard the  Night  Parrot  coming  to  water  in  the  evening,  and  he  
was  emphatic  in  saying  that  it  was  always  between  8  p.m.  and  9  
p.m.  The  birds  have  a  sweet,  low,  two-note  whistle,  uttered  
frequently  during  their  flight  to  and  from  water,  and  apparently  
several  birds  made  the'  trip  in  company.  Mr.  McDonald  had  never  
heard  the  call  from  a  Night  Par  rot  during  the  day,  but  his  young  
ones  used  to  answer  him  at  any  time  he  whistled  to,  them  during  
the  day  or  night.  I  asked  Mr.  McDonald  how  he  could  account  for  
the  disappearance  of  the Night  Parrot,  and  he  replied—  'If  you  tell  
me  what  happened  to  much  of  our  former-day  bird  and  animal  life,  I  
would  say  that  was  the  reason.  What,  for  instance,  has  caused  the  
almost  total  disappearance  of  most  of  our  small  marsupials?'  He  
consideredthat  the  domestic  cat,  gone  wild,  had  accounted  for  many  
birds  and  animals,  but  they  were  not  responsible  for  all  the  damage  
or  shortage.  He  mentioned  that  stocking  had  cut  up  the  country  which 
 Night  Parrots  used  to  frequent,  and  drought  had  gone  on  with  the  
job,  so  that  today  he  hardly  knew  the  coun  try  on  which,  in  years  
gone  by,  he  had  spent  so  much  time  in  searching  for  cattle  and  


To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Long-lost Night Parrot (Chronicle, Adelaide 30 Jul 1931), colin trainor <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU