Discussions on the Night Parrot.....Birdforum

To: "'Stephen Murray'" <>, "'Philip Veerman'" <>, "'birding-aus'" <>
Subject: Discussions on the Night Parrot.....Birdforum
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2013 00:24:08 +1100
G'day Steve,

Yes, I agree that to my eye there has definitely been some clone stamping at
two locations in the photos, but the bird otherwise still appears to be a
genuine Night Parrot, so none of this puts the identification at risk. 
It's important to realize that both images show the same side of the bird,
with one image being reversed for reasons unknown. The image against Triodia
shows a small area of outer scapulars stamped out with a sample taken from
the front of the scapulars. The second image against gravel also shows the
same area stamped out but with a sample from the mid section of the
scapulars. There must have been a bunch of feathers sticking up out of
alignment or something to that effect. This second image also has a sample
of the background used to stamp out a feather sticking up above the dorsal
profile, this feather is still visible in the first image against the
Triodia where it is not so eye catching and was therefor left in.
I agree John or whoever should not have done this on such historic images,
but it doesn't challenge the identification of the bird. I would expect that
in due course John would eventually present the same images plus others
showing the opposite side of the bird for us all to see without the cosmetic
adjustments. John has said he watched the bird for 35 minutes, that's a long
time and he has 600 images of it so it would be fair to assume there isn't
600 images of one side of the bird. 

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Stephen Murray
Sent: Saturday, 12 October 2013 6:44 PM
To: 'Philip Veerman'; 'birding-aus'
Subject: Discussions on the Night Parrot.....Birdforum

Phil. I would humbly suggest you go and have another look at the photograph.
There is a substantial section of feathering on the back area that appears
to have been duplicated twice...possibly with a clone stamp (but there are
numerous methods). Feathers are like snowflakes, they are never exactly
identical. So what? You ask. Well, normally it would be no big deal. I am
assuming an offending twig or something was removed to make the photo nicer.
I do that myself sometimes with my own shots. Maybe that's why it stands out
to me. I have to say though, that it beggars belief that an image of this
importance could be adjusted like this without anything being said.
Especially in a case where the photographer has been accused of excessive
manipulation in the past. If I were John Young I wouldn't allow anyone to
digitally manipulate the image in any way. I think the magazine should make
a statement about the post-processing of this image, given its significance.

Steve Murray

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Philip Veerman
Sent: Saturday, 12 October 2013 2:51 PM
To: 'birding-aus'
Subject: Discussions on the Night Parrot.....Birdforum

Sorry but these comments seem really bizarre to me. I don't see any sign of
manipulation of the photo. A bird running through the grass at night time is
going to get some feathers ruffled. If this has been tidied up, well it
seems an odd thing to do, but so what? Certainly I can't agree "there is
absolutely no doubt that major image manipulation has taken place in this
case." I don't see any sign of it, let alone major. Why not first ask
whether that was done. Even if there is, it doesn't make a pigeon into a
Night Parrot. Why would anyone bother to do that? If someone was going to
defraud us with fake photos, why bother travelling out into the bush for
years to try to find the bird? Just get a museum specimen and set up a scene
and photograph it in your back yard or do computer generated images.
Jurassic Park has done it with dinosaurs, much easier. The suggestion seems
ridiculous. Surely the existence of video film makes the suggestion just a
bit silly. And no I was not there to see the video. The likelihood that a
rare, secretive, nocturnal, terrestrial, small bird has existed and escaped
close scrutiny for years is huge. Do you really think all the magazines in
the shops do not rely of cosmetics and then manipulate front cover images to
remove blemishes, make the girls look thinner, make their eyes bigger, not
to mention all the glamour magazines. Or flip images from left to right to
fit the layout better. So what. Guess what birds are bilaterally
symmetrical. There are several books that include photos of manipulated
images of birds. Most books would edit to chose the best photos to show
certain points or to show how hard some bird ids van be. That too is
manipulation to give an impression. 

As for "since they are the only existing photographs, they might be used for
future reference and may end up as templates for field guides. In this case
the manipulations will be amplified." On what basis will they be amplified?
And what do you think the illustrators of field guides have been using in
the past. And don't they make some mistakes by overemphasising certain
features to make a bird image look good, even if it is a fraction of the
size of the bird. No doubt illustrators of field guides have the only  raw
material to work from as museum specimens to use as references that includes
birds in moult or in bad condition. They have surely always chosen to show
the birds in unblemished and complete plumage. So that aspect of
manipulation and guesswork is standard. Do you really think a bit of
manipulation on a photo (if it happened) is going to make a painting with
all its interpretation by the artist and production processes for a field
guide so inaccurate that it is going to lead to someone unable to
distinguish the Night Parrot from something else? It is not as if there is
anything remotely similar that lives in the same range. 

By the way I am just reacting to these messages. I don't know if the photos
are real but don't see anything to demonstrate they aren't. I don?t know or
care either way about John Young and whether he found this bird and I have
not seen the video or the bird.


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of KEN TUCKER
Sent: Saturday, 12 October 2013 4:28 AM To: Nikolas Haass       Cc: birding
aus     Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Discussions on the Night

I agree with you, Nikolas. As a scientific record, this just doesn't cut the
mustard. I really want to believe it's true and this doesn't disprove John's
claims... but why manipulate the image? And DNA evidence  just proves that
Night Parrot feathers were obtained... but from where? (Obviously from a
Night Parrot... but how obtained?)  I hope better evidence is soon
forthcoming... but I shan't hold my breath.

Happy birding

> From: Nikolas Haass <>>To: David Stowe
<>; robert morris ><>;
David Clark <>; Peter Shute <>>Cc:
birding aus <> >Sent: Friday, 11 October 2013,
>Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Discussions on the Night 
>Hi David, David & Peter,
>As a scientist I strongly disagree. Sadly, there is absolutely no doubt 
>that major image manipulation has taken place in this case. This is not 
>acceptable for publication in any medium as it has a serious impact on 
>the validity of the presented data. First of all, these pictures (and 
>hopefully at some point the videos) should support the evidence of the 
>Night Parrot still being around. Second, since they are the only 
>existing photographs, they might be used for future reference and may 
>end up as templates for field guides. In this case the manipulations 
>will be amplified. A way to fix this very serious issue would be the 
>publication of the original raw files and a thorough explanation why 
>the pictures had been manipulated prior to release.
>To your question, David, 'What do people really want?'
>We want unequivocal data supporting evidence of the Night Parrot still 
>being around. So far we don't have any acceptable data. To my knowledge 
>neither the pictures (original raw files), nor the video (again 
>original raw files), nor the call (for reasons discussed in the past) 
>nor the DNA data have been published in a scientific peer-reviewed 
>Here are the guidelines for image manipulation that we use in our field 
>of research: 'Digital figures adjusted with computer software are 
>acceptable. However, the final image must remain representative of the 
>original data and cannot be enhanced, obscured or rearranged.
>Unacceptable modifications include the addition, alteration or removal 
>of a particular feature of an image. All digital images in manuscripts 
>accepted for publication will be examined for any improper modification 
>and if evidence of such inappropriate modification is detected, the 
>Editor of the journal will request the original data to be supplied for 
>comparison to the prepared figures and if necessary revoke acceptance 
>of the article. Cases of deliberate misrepresentation of data will 
>result in revocation of acceptance, and will be reported to the 
>corresponding author's home institution or funding agency.'
>Best wishes,
>Nikolas Haass
>Brisbane, QLD
>On Friday, October 11, 2013 8:33 PM, David Stowe 
><> wrote:
>Hi Rob,
>I heard about it some time ago but deliberately didn't rejoin as I knew 
>i would just get myself into an argument :)
>Having been at the presentation in Brisbane and seen the video and 
>photos I had no doubts at all. Seeing the high res printed cover of 
>Birdlife magazine doesn't change anything for me. The DNA analysis was 
>also positive. What more do people really want? So what if a few 
>feathers have been cloned? So what if the image has been flipped 
>between publications? Some people really do need to get a life.
>I have no doubt that John Young doesn't care what they are saying - nor 
>those close to him who have seen more.
>On 11/10/2013, at 5:52 PM, robert morris <>
>> All
>> I attended John Young's presentation on Night Parrots in Brisbane 
>> which was amazing to see. It seemed indisputable and I walked away 
>> having
witnessed a part of birding history.
>> However, I have just been alerted by UK birding friends to 
>> discussions
taking place on Birdforum in the UK where there are claiming parts of the
photos are cloned and they are casting huge doubts over the record. 
>> Some of it can be found here: but you have to join bird
forum to see the the entire thread with all the photo analysis. 
>> Does anyone know anything about this? Is anyone following the thread 
>> and
has anyone else looked at this or commented on it?
>> I'm not trying to caste aversions or dispute John's record but people
should be aware that the record is being questioned by other birding
communities. It would be great if someone could set them straight......
>> Rob Morris
>> Brisbane, Australia


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