Elusive Australian parrot spotted

AFP-JIJI

An intrepid Australian bird spotter has captured the best evidence in a century of a live “night parrot,” a rare creature that ranks among the world’s most enigmatic avian species, scientists said Thursday.

John Young, a naturalist photographer, presented photos and video of the small, yellowish-green parrot to experts at the Queensland Museum this week that government scientist Leo Joseph said “make it seem very clear that he’s found the bird.”

Researchers feared for decades that the nocturnal, desert-dwelling parrot was extinct, with no sightings between 1912 and 1979 and only a handful since, prompting the Smithsonian Magazine last year to rank it in top spot among the world’s five most mysterious birds.

The last live specimen was captured 100 years ago. Though two dead birds have been found since, in 1990 and 2006, no one has been able to offer definitive proof of a live sighting until now.

The parrot is designated as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which lists it as having been “rediscovered” in 2005, when two biologists spotted the elusive bird but were unable to photograph it or collect samples.

There are only around 50 to 250 night parrots in the wild, according to estimates cited by the IUCN.