PARADISE PARROT | ONLY AUSTRALIAN PARROT KNOWN TO HAVE VANISHED

PARADISE PARROT | ONLY AUSTRALIAN PARROT KNOWN TO HAVE VANISHED

The paradise parrot was a bright medium-sized parrot native to the grassy forests of eastern Australia’s Queensland–New South Wales border region. The last live bird was sighted in 1927, when it was still reasonably widespread within its relatively small range. In the years since, extensive, and continuous searches have failed to turn up any convincing evidence of it, and it is the only Australian parrot known to have vanished and is now thought extinct.

Even by parrot standards, the plumage was vibrant, with shades of turquoise, aqua, red, black, and brown. The tail was nearly the same length as the body, which was remarkable for a bird that spent almost all of its time on the ground despite being a fast flier.

The species was seen in pairs or small family groups, nesting in hollowed-out termite mounds, frequently at or near ground level, and eating nearly solely on grass seeds, according to what is known. According to some reports, the same mating pair occupied termitarium’s year after year. Confirmation of holes dug out by this species along riverbanks is less certain. Over the course of a month, a single pair was restricted to a two-hectare region. The nesting places have been reported at termitariums previously frequented by the kingfisher Todiramphus macleayii, kookaburra Dacelo leachii burrows, and tree bases. 

Description 

This parrot was 10.5 inches / 27 cm long on average, with the tail accounting for over half of that length. The plumage was vibrant, with turquoise, green, red, black, brown-orange, and blue tones. 

Male: The top of his skull was red. The eyelids were a green-yellowish color. On the sides of the body, the emerald-green cheeks, throat, and breast turned turquoise. The crown and nape of the neck were both black. The back of the neck was brownish black. Greyish brown on the back, lower back, and flight feathers. The thighs, the middle of the abdomen, the under tail-coverts, and the median and outer lesser wing-coverts were all crimson. Blue wing bends, primary wing feathers, outside webs of primaries (longer wing feathers), outer secondaries (shorter, upper “arm” feathers), and under wing-coverts. The upper side of the middle tail feathers was bronze, green with blue-black tips. Greenish-blue outer tail feathers with whitish-blue tips. The underside of the tail was white bluish. They possessed a grey bill and peri ophthalmic rings that were small and grey. Irises were dark, and the feet were a greyish-brown color. 

Female: The hens’ forehead was a dull yellowish-brown color. Dusky brownish yellow on the sides of the head, throat, breast, and neck. The tips of the feathers were brownish orange. The belly and undertail-coverts were pale blue, with the abdomen feathers a little crimson. Pale turquoise covered the lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts. The wing-coverts of the lesser and inner median were dull crimson. The wing’s edge, underwing-coverts, primary wing feathers, and primaries’ outer webs were all grey blue. On the underside of the wing, there was a faint stripe. 

Young Birds: Mostly looks like female birds. Young males, on the other hand, have emerald-green cheeks and breasts, a darker crown and nape, and darker red wings. There was a stripe on the underside of the wings. The bill had a yellowish tint to it. 

Alternative Names:

Anthill Parrot, Beautiful Parakeet, Beautiful Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Grass Parrot, Ground Parrot, Ground Rosella, paradise parakeet, Paradise Parrot, Red-shouldered Parakeet, Red-shouldered Parrot, Red-winged Parrot, Scarlet-shouldered Parakeet, Scarlet-shouldered Parrot, Soldier Grass-Parrot, Soldier Parrot (English).
– Perruche de paradis (French).
– Paradiessittich (German).
– Periquito-do-paraíso (Portuguese).
– Perico del Paraíso (Spanish).

Scientific Classifications: 

– Order: Psittaciformes
– Family: Psittaculidae
– Genus: Psephotellus
– Scientific name: Psephotellus pulcherrimus
– Citation: (Gould, 1845)
– Protonimo: platycercus beautiful

Habitat and Ecology 

 The causes of the paradise parrot’s abrupt extinction are unknown. Overgrazing, land clearing, altered fire regimes, bird collection hunting, and predation by invasive animals such as cats and dogs are also possibilities. It became scarce near the end of the nineteenth century, and by 1915, it was assumed to be extinct. A severe drought in the area in 1902 may have contributed to its death, and where new pastoralist methods were implemented, grazers’ burning to boost feed for their stock resulted in the loss of seasonal foods. 

When the genetic diversity of the Paradise Parrot is compared to the genomes of endangered birds, it is discovered that the Paradise Parrot is more genetically diverse than the endangered birds. The population number of the Paradise Parrott has fluctuated substantially with temperature during the last glacial cycle, according to research. Over the next decade, a series of searches turned up a few more people, but the last recorded sighting was on September 14, 1927. 

It was not reported in the field during the survey, according to the Atlas of Australian Birds. The historical reports are mostly from a region in Queensland’s southeast, and they show a fast fall after the 1880s. Until 1902, the species was found in the Duaringa district. 

Following a dearth of observations, an attempt to gather reports from the public in 1918 revealed the presence at various locations. Sightings were confirmed in 1926–27 at a variety of locales across the known range, including Casino, New South Wales, and near Ipswich (1927) and Burnett River. Misidentified sightings of the uncommon golden-shouldered parrot could complicate unconfirmed claims from the north of the known range. Historical accounts of local occurrences around Coen and Archer River in the 1920s are recorded as possible, and an early mention of occurrence at Mitchell River in 1848 is considered reliable. 

Threats 

Overgrazing and annual burning of native grasses (at the key time when the grass was in seed) are suspected to have contributed to the extinction of the Paradise Parrot. Little seed would have been produced for several years due to the impacts of a severe drought. In addition, trapping for aviaries and feral cat predation would have put local populations under stress. It’s also been reported that the Paradise Parrot was harmed by the prevalent practice of ring-barking trees, as well as habitat loss caused by Prickly Pear Opuntia overgrowth.

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