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In issue 287 -
Your Parrots’ “Regular Treats Day”. Complete Psittacine by Eb Cravens
In issue 287 -
Intelligent parrots need stimulation. By Mary Jo Dilonardo
In issue 287 -
The joys of being an author! By Rosemary Low
In issue 287 -
Discovering your bird’s ‘comfort sounds.’ The Holistic Parrot by Leslie Moran

Saving the Golden-shouldered Parrot

Spreads for web Parrots 278 4

by Andrew Stafford

Nearly a century after the extinction of the Paradise Parrot, a tiny team is trying to protect its cousin, by using land clearing. In 1922, Cyril Jerrard captured the first and only photographs of the Paradise Parrot, the only Australian bird to be officially declared extinct since European colonisation. Jerrard was well aware he was looking at one of the last of its kind and wrote in 1924, “The one undisguisable fact is that the advent of the white man has spelled destruction to one of the loveliest of the native birds of this country.”

The last accepted sighting of a Paradise Parrot, also by Jerrard, was in 1927 near Gayndah in the Burnett River district of southern Queensland. Nearly a century later, in the fading light of dusk, I’m standing 20 metres from a bird feeder, clicking away in vain as a pair of Golden-shouldered Parrots, the Paradise Parrot’s closest surviving relative, accept a handout at Artemis Station, a cattle property on the Cape York Peninsula in the state’s far north. My images are rubbish, but while I’m watching, I have an eerie sense of how Jerrard might have felt.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I watched a flock of 50 Golden-shouldered Parrots beside the Cape Developmental Road at Windmill Creek, near the northern boundary of Artemis. For decades, the 125,000ha station has been the species’ stronghold. Today it holds, maybe, 50 birds in total. There are scattered groups on neighbouring stations, and an unknown number in the remote Staaten River National Park to the south.

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