Night Parrot Debate

To: Greg Roberts <>
Subject: Night Parrot Debate
From: Ian May <>
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2013 18:26:22 +1100

What is the urgency? Because of its vast potential range and extreme cryptic behavior i doubt that virtually anything anyone does or does not do in the near future would or could affect the ultimate survival of Night Parrot

It's survival so far within the Channel Country and Boulia area despite the history of regular drought, extreme heat, heavy domestic animal grazing, mega infestations of rabbits, foxes, cats, weeds, wind and water erosion and just about every other ecological pressure that has been applied is testimony to this.. The only conceivable short term local threats would be from misguided researchers influencing misinformed land use and bird conservation policy. Especially 1, Policy that might recommend significant change to the current ecological blend that has allowed this species to survive so far and 2, misguided policy that allows intervention such as targeting, capturing and handling Night Parrots for some other quasi research purpose including captive breeding.

"Lessons in History" might also consider some other prominent parrot species recovery programs that have developed into research conservation disasters and lack adequate transparency.

Ian May

St Helens. Tasmania

Greg Roberts wrote:

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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