Night Parrot Debate

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Night Parrot Debate
From: "Greg Roberts" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2013 20:48:43 +1000
I have been asked by several people to contribute to the latest exchange on
this subject and do so reluctantly.


David Adams has a point when he speculates that the controversy surrounding
the Night Parrot discovery can be explained by the fact that it has been
handled in a "novel manner".


I believe Nikolas Haass is correct when he suggests it is reasonable for
further evidence to be produced publicly to consolidate the discovery.


A lesson in history. In the mid-1970s I rediscovered the plumiferus race of
the Marbled Frogmouth. It was a highly significant finding at the time; the
so-called Plumed Frogmouth had not been seen for some decades and its call
was unknown. I immediately publicised the whereabouts of the site. With
Chris Corben and other colleagues, we recorded the bird's call; the
recordings were distributed widely. Surveys were conducted throughout the
bird's range in south-east Queensland and north-east NSW to determine its
status and distribution. I published the finding in a peer-reviewed journal,
Emu. The results of surveys were published in another journal, Sunbird. I
took the view that the interests of the Plumed Frogmouth were best served by
both verifying the record publicly and by gathering and publicising as much
information as quickly as possible.


It's called transparency, and without adequate and incontrovertible
transparency, controversy is inevitable.


This debate is not about attacking or defending any particular individual.
It is not primarily about believing or not believing the Night Parrot
record; I personally believe it. 


What this debate should be centred around is the welfare of the Night
Parrot. Too many people forget that this endangered species is not the
property of any individual, however noteworthy their efforts in the field
may be.


Greg Roberts 


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