|Common Name:||Night Parrot|
|Scientific Name:||Pezoporus occidentalis|
|Weight:||Around 100 grams|
|Length:||23 centimeters or 9 inches|
|Country of Origin:||Australia|
Night Parrots are relatively short, small, and short-tailed birds. Their color is predominantly a shade of yellow-green with spots of yellows, blacks, and browns. This color is both seen for both males and females of the species. For the specifics, the fore neck of these birds are a blended yellow and green, the undertail coverts and abdomen are bright yellows in color, the flanks and the breast are black and yellow, and there is also a visible pale yellow flight feather stripe that is seen in their underwings. The bills of these parrots are a mixture of brown and grey. Their eyes are also black. These birds also weigh about 100 grams, and their size is usually 9 inches long.
It is reported that the juvenile Night Parrots look very similar to the adult ones, but it is believed that their colors are duller compared to those of the adults. This is much more identifiable in their necks and throats.
At present, the current number of surviving Night Parrots is still unknown, but most experts assume that these birds are at a constant state of decline. As of 2012, this bird has been listed to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species as Endangered, though this has been changed as Critically Endangered.
According to the IUCN Red List, it is estimated that the night parrots have a population of 50 individuals to a maximum of 250 individuals. In Australia, these birds are also listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999.
The known threats for the existence of this species are believed to be feral cat predation, which is seen as the top cause for the deaths of these parrots. Additionally, another major threat is their habitat destruction.
Availability and Natural Habitat
The night parrot is a tiny parrot that is endemic to territories in Australia. It is famous for being one of the hardest to find birds, and they are considered as the most mysterious and elusive bird species. In fact, there has been no confirmed sighting of this species between the years of 1912 to 1979. Because of this, many had the belief that these species of parrots are already extinct.
Since 1979, the recorded sightings of this bird have been very few and extremely rare. The current population is still undetermined. Based on some records, it is estimated to be 50 and 249 mature individuals.
The natural habitats of Night Parrots are the spinifex grass, and they choose to spend time on these dry and dusty Australian landscapes. Other experts also note that these birds do not stay far away from areas with water. Some Night Parrots also love inhabiting eucalyptus woodlands, mallee shrublands, and chenopod shrublands. They are also seen in saltbush and mulga habitats, rocky areas near freshwater pools, grassy areas, and places with salt lakes.
Night Parrots are usually seen to gravitate towards in arid areas where there is low vegetation to provide them their needed shelter during the day. Most of their recorded sightings are seen from hummock grasslands with spinifex, porcupine grass, and Triodia or from areas dominated by samphire. It has been suggested that the birds move into the grasslands when Triodia is seeding. These birds have also been reported in low chenopod shrublands with blue bush and saltbush. From the areas of Mitchell grass Astrebla with scattered chenopods. Many records have come from waterholes, but most reports link the Night Parrots to Triodia areas that have the presence of nearby water.
Behavior, Exercise, and Training
Night Parrots are terrestrial birds, and they tend to go gliding on air only when they are panicked, and they need some water. The Night Parrots are also nocturnal species, and even when their populations were higher, they were still very private and secretive birds.
In terms of vocalization, these birds have been observed to have a contact call, which sounds like a croak. Other calls of these birds are one drawn-out a whistle and one short ding ding sounding whistles. These calls have also been recorded from Western Australia and Queensland.
Some experts describe these notes as two-note whistles that they express when they take flight from their water sources during the night. When these birds are startled, they also produce weird squeaks. They also produced strange croaking noises when they feel alarmed.
The Night Parrots are usually seen living solitary lives. They can be quite active, and they love dwelling on the ground. During the day, they prefer to spend time hidden within vegetation, so they will be quite difficult to spot. After dusk, these parrots start becoming more active. In fact, one individual has been tracked to fly up to 7 kilometers during the night so they can forage as much as they want.
Food and Eating Habits
Notes from bird experts who have observed Night Parrots in the wild mentioned seeing these birds eating grasses, herbs, and seeds. They may also consume some fruits, some green fruits, and some succulents for some water.
In captivity, these Night Parrots can be provided in a seed mix that is composed of oats, weed seeds, hemp seeds, millet, grass, niger, wild bird food, small amounts of sunflower, soft insects, swiss chard, dandelion, chickweed, egg food, sowthistle, and other green leaves.
Some experts have studied that their egg clutches contain about 4 to 5 eggs, and their breeding seasons last from April to June every year. The eggs usually measure about 0.99 inches by about 0.77 inches. It has been observed that the breeding of the Night Parrots is mostly unpredictable, and it has been said to be mostly dependent on the current food supply.
Most often, it has been seen nesting using a chamber that utilizes spinifex grass clump, which is 25 centimeters across reached through dug tunnels that are about 8 centimeters in diameter. Their floor is observed to be lined with some leaves and grass stalks.
Common Health Problems
In the wild, Night Parrots are usually preyed upon, which is why these birds are primarily vigilant in their behaviors so that they will always remain safe. The most visible trait among these prey animals is to hide any types of ailments that they have, so they are not seen as a weak and inviting target. The lives of these Night Parrots are dependent on maintaining the appearance of good health, which is why it can be harder for these birds to hide any ill feelings they may have.
This behavior of the Night Parrots can make it difficult to detect some health problems, so owners must educate themselves on all possible problems, signals, and indications that a bird is feeling ill. This requires the observation of your Night Parrot so that all signs of an illness can be prevented as early as possible.
There are general signs that owners can check to see if their Night Parrots are suffering from health problems.
- Strange stance and appearance
- The bird is losing its balance
- Looking huddled
- Excessive plucking of feathers
- Walking on circles
- Not preening
- Hanging on the side of their cage with their beaks
- Attitude and behavior
- Change in personality
- Change in vocalization
- Drooping wings
- Dropping of the birds
- Presence of blood
- A decrease in the droppings
- Changes in color
- Changes inconsistency
- Head appearance
- Half-closed eyes
- Squinting their eyes
- Twitching of their heads
- Loss of symmetry which indicates swelling
- Dull, fluffed and ruffled looking
- Over plucking
- Bald spots and excessive molting
- Feather stress bars
- Stained area and wet head
- Feet and legs
- Abnormal nail growth
- Discoloration and crusting
- Swollen feet and joints
- Change in the sounds that they make
- Exercise intolerance
- Heavy panting
- Open breathing in their beaks
Here are some common diseases that you should watch out for:
- Psittacosis in Birds
- What is it? – Psittacosis is commonly known as parrot fever but is also called for other terms like ornithosis and chlamydiophila psittaci. It is classified as an infectious disease that can occur in most bird species. Usually, this illness is spread in contact with dust from birds and some droppings.
- What are the symptoms? – The symptoms of this disease include depression, difficulty in breathing, lack of appetite, green and watery droppings, and discharge from the eyes and the nose. Failing to catch these symptoms early on will only lead to sudden death for pet birds. If you notice that the symptoms mentioned are exhibited by your bird, they must be sent to a veterinarian right away.
- What is the treatment? – The usual treatment for this type of disease involves antibiotic treatment, as recommended by an avian veterinarian.
- Is this disease transmissible to humans? – Yes. Psittacosis can also affect humans, and it will be exhibited as a flu-like disease.
- Polyomavirus in Birds
- What is it? – Avian Polyomavirus is another infectious disease that is usually present among birds and other mammals. Younger birds are more prone to this type of illness, and this can lead to their sudden death. Some studies indicate that some adult birds may develop immunity to this disease and will not get infected when they are matured. This disease can usually be spread by exposure through bird droppings, the dander of the birds, and constant touching to the birds.
- What are the symptoms? – For polyomavirus, the symptoms are not exhibited right away. The symptoms can be expressed by dehydration, weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, swollen abdomens, and a loss of appetite.
- What is the treatment? – As a prevention against this disease, vaccination is highly recommended and endorsed. This action must be done very early and usually while the birds are still in the breeder’s nursery. Currently, there is no known treatment when your bird gets infected. So, it is very important that you practice strict hygiene and quarantine infected birds to avoid the spreading of this disease.
- Is this disease transmissible to humans? – Yes. Some forms of polyomavirus can also affect some humans.
- Pacheco’s Disease in Birds
- What is it? – Pacheco’s disease can be transmitted by a herpes virus and is extremely deadly for Night Parrots. Usually, this can be spread through infected feces and is shown by a nasal discharge. Generally, stress can be encountered when breeding, brooding, moving, and grieving for the loss of a mate.
- What are the symptoms? – The symptoms of this disease include anorexia, green droppings, lethargy, sinusitis, sudden death, and tremors.
- What is the treatment? – The usual treatment for this type of disease is the anti-viral called Acyclovir can be effective if treatment started early. But it can cause kidney damage, so you should be aware of the side effects. Pacheco’s disease is highly contagious and can be deadly. The best preventive measure is always quarantine.
- Is this disease transmissible to humans? – No, this disease does not appear to be contagious to humans.
- Giardia in Birds
- What is it? – Giardia is a disease that comes from parasites, and it can be passed through cysts from infected birds that are released to the bird’s droppings. The common source of this problem is from unclean water supplies.
- What are the symptoms? – Giardia is exhibited through the following signs: bulky stool, diarrhea, dry, itchy skin, depression, and weight loss.
- What is the treatment? – The treatment for Giardia is usually several courses of antibiotics because it recurs quite often. Prevention can be accomplished by keeping the aviary dry and clean to avoid overcrowding. It is also recommended to maintain cage cleanliness through a cleaner water source.
- Is this disease transmissible to humans? – Humans can get infected with Giardia if they get exposed or mistakenly drink to infected water from the same water supply of their Night Parrots.
- Malnutrition in Birds
- What is it? – There are various things that can influence nutrition problems in birds. But, if you have your pet Night Parrot under a strict but good diet of fresh foods and nutritionally appropriate pellets, you have nothing to worry about. However, the birds might lack in receiving their needed vitamins in which you may want to consider purchasing nutritional supplements, so you can overcome this problem.
- What are the symptoms? – Some symptoms of malnutrition are darkened feathers and feather stress bars. Owners must also ensure that the bird receives full-spectrum sunlight, especially if they stay most of the time indoors. If this is the case, these birds might require additional artificial bird lighting.
- What is the treatment? – For malnutrition treatment, owners must be cautious when changing the Night Parrot’s diet because, in some cases, the bird will not be interested in changing their new food and will just end up starving themselves more.
- Is this disease transmissible to humans? – No.
Unlike other domesticated animals, parrots are not, and they require a different type of caring approach. They require a special type of care that a lot of people cannot be familiar with. For instance, handling a Night Parrot is so much more different from handling other pets like dogs and cats. If this is not done correctly, this can lead to a dangerous ending for both the owners and the birds. Here are some important handling tips that you should consider.
- Never squeeze your pet Night Parrot. – While it can be necessary to hold a bird very firmly, it is very important to remember that you should never attempt to squeeze your bird. Parrots have very sensitive skeletons and more delicate respiratory systems. Squeezing your birds too much can lead to organ damage, broken bones, and other much more intense problems that can lead to too much pressure on any part of his body.
- Train your bird to be able to step up. – These tricks that you can teach your bird will help you handle your bird in a much safer way. If the pet bird refuses to step on the owner’s finger, you should make sure that you can train them as early as you can. All expert birds will tell you that if you teach your friend to step up, handling them will be so much easier.
- Do not allow your Night Parrot to sit on your shoulder. – Although this practice can be seen to be done by people in TV shows and movies, this is not actually a good idea. This is because Night Parrots can bite people if they feel bad, startled, or upset. If you allow your parrot to sit on your shoulder, it will be placed too near at your face level, and you will be exposed to the great danger of sustaining an enormous bite just in case it goes wrong.
- Clip the wings of your Night Parrots. – It might not seem important at first, but clipping your bird’s wings will help you in a big deal when it comes to handling your bird much safer. If the wings get clipped much quickly, they will not fly for too long, so they will become much dependent on their owners and stick to them like glue when they live out of the cage. Birds who do not have clipped feathers who seek to try to take flight while they are being held, which will also lead owners to grab at them in an impulse.
- Protect your accessories and jewelry against your Night Parrot. – When you are learning to handle your Night Parrot safely, you should never forget that they love to bite at small and shiny objects. If you are wearing your jewelry, they all will not be irresistible to your pet parrot.
Fun Facts about the Night Parrot
- The Night Parrot was first described by ornithologist John Gould in 1891.
- The first sighting was done 13 kilometers southeast of Mt. Farmer, west of Lake Austin in Western Australia.
- In France, the Night Parrot is called the Perruche nocturne.
- In Spain, the Night Parrot is called the Perico nocturne.
- In Germany, the Night Parrot is called the Hohlensittich.
- The Night Parrot is believed to live anywhere from Western Australia, Western Queensland, and North Western New South Wales.
- The Night Parrots are also known as Nocturnal Ground Parrots and Spinifex Parrot.
- It is believed that the Night Parrot resembles the Ground Parrot that is commonly found in Australia and Tasmania.
Where Can You Get a Pet Night Parrot?
The night parrot is exclusively found in the wilderness, and because of the very low count of this species, it is near impossible to get one and take care of it in captivity.
How to Care for a Pet Night Parrot?
Here are the important things to think about if you want to take care of your pet Night Parrot.
- First, you have to obtain a proper cage. The one that you should pick first is square and rectangular-shaped because round cages can be more difficult for parrots. They must be large enough so that parrots can be much more comfortable. It must have space to accommodate water bowls, food bowls, toys, and perches.
- Place the cage in a room where your Night Parrot can interact with many people. These beings are social in nature, and they love receiving attention.
- Regulate the temperatures to be at around 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You should not leave the parrots in chilly rooms so that the thermostat will not be too cold over the winter. If the temperature should drop below 40 degrees, it can lead to sickness for your bird.
- Manage your parrot’s diet appropriately. Remember that they need food with valuable nutritional value. Their diet must be a mix of bird seeds, pellet mixes, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Most parrots love eating berries, green beans, peas, cooked squash, carrots, bananas, and apples.
- Never feed your Night Parrots with honey, eggplant, asparagus, dill, cabbage, rhubarb leaves, greasy foods, salty foods, sugary foods, chocolate, alcohol, avocado, onions, and caffeine.
- Provide your Night Parrot with water containers that are about 20 ounces to sustain their hydration needs. Additionally, you should also add a container that the bird can use for bathing.
- Owners should also avoid using non-stick utensils and pans and never keep your parrots near the kitchen. Remember that secondhand smoke is extremely bad for parrots, leading with similar damage to humans.
- Clean the cage bottom every two days. You should remove cage liners and replace them, and discard any toys, shells, seeds, and gravel. Spot clean must also be done at least once a day. You should also make sure that you should use a bird-safe disinfectant for cleaning the cage a minimum of once a week.
- Visit the veterinarian on a regular schedule. Some Night Parrots are always completely healthy, but they can still encounter some problems every once in a while. They can also be solved through some preventive veterinarian consultations. You should also ensure that your veterinarian is one that sees birds specifically, or you will just end up wasting your money.
- Give your pet some treats every once in a while, especially whenever you train them. Identify their favorite foods by giving them a variety of nuts, fresh fruits, dried fruits, and some seeds. Once you find out your favorite, refrain from making it a part of their regular meals and just use them for training and rewarding for learning tricks and having good behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Night Parrot found?
The Night Parrot can normally be found living in the arid and semi-arid areas of Australia.
Where was the most recent sighting of the Night Parrot?
The last sighting of this bird was in Pullen Pullen Reserve, Queensland, in 2013.
Can Night Parrots fly?
Night Parrots prefer flying low and quick, and they prefer dwelling on the ground.
Is the Night Parrot endangered?
The Night Parrot is enlisted an endangered species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 1999 by the Australian government.
What does the Night Parrot eat?
Night Parrots feed primarily on seeds, which is commonly referred to as spinifex, and they usually consume this type of food after the sunsets.