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The Australian Outback

Parrots magazine March 2011

by Robert Alison

Australia’s Outback, normally dry, barren and uninviting, has been transformed into a lush semi-paradise by extraordinary rains that persisted in much of 2010. This fortunate development was responsible for a major breeding initiative in all species of local psittacids, many of which had refrained from nesting, or had relocated to more hospitable areas, as a result of a decade of devastating drought.

According to officials at the Alice Springs (Northern Territory) Desert Wildlife Park, although the area had suffered through exceptional drought for 10 years, 2006 was the driest year of all, with much of the Outback receiving only about 70 mm of precipitation. But, rains that began in February 2010, and continued fairly regularly afterwards, achieved a remarkable landscape transformation. In some areas, up to 800 mm of rain fell over an 11 month period and local flooding was widespread.

Much of the Outback metamorphosed into a luxuriant kaleidoscope of flowers, fruit-laden trees and flowering shrubs, as well as thick froths of succulent grasses, especially seed-heavy buffel grasses so desirable to some psittacids. “It has been quite unusual, and much of the region has become extraordinarily green,” confirmed a ranger at Ormiston Gorge National Park in the West MacDonnell Range, Northern Territory.

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