Using dogs to find Night Parrots

To: "'Stephen Murray'" <>, "'Andrew Stafford'" <>, " net. au'" <>
Subject: Using dogs to find Night Parrots
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2012 21:59:32 +1000
G'day again Steve,

I think at such an early stage just flushing the birds would surely be
considered a successful first step wouldn't it?
While I am fully aware of the Big Desert experience a couple of issues to
worry me about that report. Firstly Night Parrot could not be said to have a
tail that was slightly on the long side when compared to a Grass Parrot and
secondly there is another report in the literature of a Night Parrot being
found by a dog in a clump but it didn't flush until the owner got involved,
I can't remember the details of how he got the bird to fly out but it was
typically reluctant to leave cover. If the Big Desert record was in fact of
Night Parrot then it may have been a family group with fledglings I guess as
an old report from WA is of a group of juveniles sheltering at a small cave
entrance in Spinifex county, this observation was during day light obviously
and the birds weren't deep inside a Spinifex tussock. This observation
described the juveniles as being browner than the adults and with yellow
throats, the Diamantina specimen matches this well.

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Stephen Murray
Sent: Wednesday, 6 June 2012 8:37 PM
To: 'Andrew Stafford';  net. au'
Subject: Using dogs to find Night Parrots

Andrew. Dion's suggestion was to use dogs to track the Night Parrot, which I
think is unfeasible. Using dogs to flush them out is a different matter
entirely. My own dogs (when they were alive) were very good at flushing
birds like quail and Buff-banded Rails. Using them to spring whatever they
can find works very well.
Steve Murray

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Andrew
Sent: Wednesday, 6 June 2012 8:02 PM
To:  net. au
Subject: Using dogs to find Night Parrots

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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