In Australia, Evidence of one of world’s rarest birds found

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The freshness of the zebra finch nest where the night parrot feather was found indicates it may have been collected 'within a few hundred metres in the past few weeks', said expert John Young

A feather from one of the most
elusive birds in the world has been found in South Australia, the first
proof in more than a century that it lives there, wildlife experts said
Thursday. The “night parrot” ranks among
the world’s rarest avian species and was thought extinct until an
intrepid Australian naturalist provided photo evidence of one in
Queensland state in 2013.

It has since also been spotted in Western Australia.
The
expert behind the Queensland sighting, John Young, and fellow ecologist
Keith Bellchambers from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy have now
shown it is also in South Australia.
The
pair found a feather from the small, yellowish-green bird in the nest of
a zebra finch around remote Lake Eyre while following up on blurry
images from a camera trap in the area.
“Keith
and I looked at many zebra finches’ nests before finally an
unmistakable small green feather appeared within the fresh base lining
of one of the nests,”
said Young.
“People
show excitement in many different ways, mine was to shake
uncontrollably with numbing excitement and Keith’s was sheer disbelief
with his hands holding his head. An incredibly emotional time for both
of us.”
“In my eyes there was no doubt that this was the feather of a night parrot.”
The
freshness of the zebra finch nest indicates the feather may have been
collected “within a few hundred metres in the past few weeks”, Young
added.
The curator of ornithology at the Western Australian Museum confirmed their find.
The
next step is to map the distribution of the species, which was last
recorded at Lake Eyre in 1883, and assess the population size using song
meters and camera traps, said Young.
Researchers
feared for decades that the nocturnal, desert-dwelling parrot was
extinct, with no sightings between 1912 and 1979 and only a handful
since, before the conclusive evidence in 2013.
In 2012, the Smithsonian Magazine rated it at number one among the world’s five most mysterious birds.
Endemic
to Australia, it is listed as endangered by the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature, which estimates there are about 50-250 in
the wild and declining.

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