Night Parrot Debate

To: Ian May <>
Subject: Night Parrot Debate
From: Chris <>
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2013 21:53:59 +1100
Hi Ian,

Mining is an ongoing process in this country, and with little to no ability in 
the short periods of time allocated to environmental impact field surveys to 
pick up Night Parrot (or other cryptic species) there is a real concern that 
this property, along with any other potential Night Parrot populations not yet 
discovered, could easily fall beneath the bulldozer. Don't forget the way our 
legislation works means that pastoral land can be mined in spite of any 
objections landholders may have, so at the stage the only known population of 
Night Parrots is definitely not secure from mining or coal seam gas. Announcing 
the location, at least to the government, may help ameliorate this risk, though 
of course that isn't guaranteed if you look at the Great Barrier Reef at the 

There is also the potential benefit of releasing the call to consultants 
employed to survey these areas prior to development in that they should in 
theory have much more success at finding Night Parrots if they are there. Lack 
of ability to find the species is probably one of the greatest threatening 
processes for them at this stage given resource development continues in 
potential habitat at a rapid rate.


Sent from my iPhone

On 19/10/2013, at 6:26 PM, Ian May <> wrote:

> 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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