12:00AM March 10, 2018
A second critically endangered night parrot disappeared after its mate vanished when it was caught and fitted with a radio transmitter by a team of experts charged with saving the birds from extinction.
The revelation prompted calls for the federal government to sack the night parrot recovery team and appoint a senior public servant to oversee the conservation program. The night parrot is one of the rarest birds in the world. It had scarcely been reported for more than a century before naturalist John Young photographed one in Queensland in 2013.
A pair of night parrots was discovered in Western Australia last March. The Weekend Australian reported last week that recovery team chief Allan Burbidge led an expedition to the site five months later. The team caught one of the parrots and fitted it with a transmitter, but no trace of the bird was found subsequently. Recovery team sources said for the next three nights, a second parrot called frequently at the site in search of its mate. The second bird then evidently vanished.
Dr Burbidge says the transmitter failed, and there is no evidence the bird fled because it was traumatised, or fell victim to a predator because it was injured or encumbered by the device. But one of his team, Tasmanian zoologist Mark Holdsworth, said it was possible the parrot perished. “That couldn’t be ruled out.” he said.