Using dogs to find Night Parrots

To: " net. au" <>
Subject: Using dogs to find Night Parrots
From: Andrew Stafford <>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2012 20:01:30 +1000
Anyone who doesn't think the idea of using dogs to find Night Parrots is at 
least worth considering should check out Andrew Isles' and Peter Menkhorst's 
Short Communication in Emu 81(4). The note discusses Ewan Walton's observations 
of Night Parrots during the 1950s near Ross's Spring, south of Cowangie. 
(Interestingly, many of the early Victorian records of Night Parrot are centred 
around the Murrayville district; Ross's Spring is not far to the south-east of 
here.) Isles and Menkhorst's paper reads:

"In the summer of 1954, while Mr Walton was hunting near Ross's Spring, his dog 
flushed several 'strange parrots' from beneath clumps of Triodia irritans. He 
took an interest in the birds and, during repeated visits to the area between 
1954 and 1959, flushed the parrots on about twenty occasions. He saw the birds 
on most but not all visits. In November 1959 a-fierce bushfire swept through 
the area; since then, Mr Walton's visits become less frequent and he did not 
see the parrots again.

"In his letter Mr Walton gives the following description of the birds: 
'slightly larger than a grass parrot (Psephotus haematonotus) but heavier at 
the top end . . . green with yellow markings not unlike a budgie, short legs 
and tail slightly on the long side. They lived in small holes under the 
spinifex (like tunnels or burrows). When you walked through the spinifex these 
birds would run out and scatter like quail. They showed a marked preference for 
running although they could fly quite well. When approached closely they would 
fly a short distance and land on the ground and run although I've seen them 
land in trees. I've never seen these birds about during daytime without having 
to walk through the spinifex and stir them out. If you walked up to them with a 
great deal of caution they were fairly quiet and often I got to within 30 or 40 
feet [+lorn] from them' ... Approximately three weeks before the 1959 fire, 
five parrots were flushed by his dog and some then perched on th
 e lower branches (less than 1 m above ground) of a mallee tree. This is the 
largest group he recorded."

The paper can be read in full (PDF) at



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