Night Parrot Rediscovery Saga, Debate Rages In Australia

The Night Parrot rediscovery and debate saga got an update from Australia this weekend. The coverage of the story has been frustrating to many people — partly because some of the online reports are just plain wrong and partly because of the tight control the rediscoverer John Young has kept over his hard-won photograph.

But a new report by Christopher Watson at Come Bird Watching should get you up to speed on the Night Parrot controversy.

A second report by Greg Roberts at Sunshine Coast Birds will also give you an indepth look at John Young, the Night Parrot photographer at the center of the saga.

As I previously reported for The Inquisitr, Young unveiled his photograph of a living Night Parrot at a Queensland, Australia museum earlier this month. Officials were on hand to verify the authenticity of his photograph.

The naturalist and documentary filmmaker searched for the bird for 15 years — and he has heavily watermarked and controlled the resulting historic picture.

I have a full report on the Night Parrot photo here, as well as a video summary of previous evidence for the continued survival of the rare species found only in Australia.

But the short version is that John Young wants to keep the location of his find secret until he can get the funds to secure the property.

It would be silly of me to duplicate Watson’s lengthy report on the debate now raging in Australia as a result. But let’s hit an important highlight.

John Young used playback to call the bird out into the open for his famous photo. According to Watson, it turns out that the only known audio of the species was made by Young himself, potentially as early as 2008.

Young said he won’t release the recording to the public. But Watson argues that allowing other seekers to use the call will allow them to find other populations and to preserve other habitats. So a case could be made that Young’s secrecy is actually hurting efforts to protect the Night Parrot.

Right now, there’s one population in one habitat which Young thinks is still secret. Maybe it is — and maybe it isn’t.

If you also read Roberts’ background story on Young, you may understand better why the photographer wants to fiercely protect his biggest success. However, if the survival of the rare species is truly at stake, it’s arguable that Young should open up a little.

Parrot expert Joseph Forshaw noted that having the rare species under the protection of one mortal man is a risky business: “What happens if he gets run over by a bus? It all goes down the gurgler.”

The debate over how to best protect the Night Parrot may be just getting heated up.

[Artist’s rendition of Night Parrot by Martin Thompson via Wikimedia, Spinifex background photo by Tourism NT via Wikimedia]