The Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is a small parrot endemic to arid Australia. Photo: Steve Murphy

Landscape in south-western Queensland where the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) has been found. Photo Credit to Steve Murphy.

A photo of Buff-breasted Button-quail habitat near Coen, circa 1922. Across Cape York, these habitats have become thick with midstory trees and the perennial grasses have largely disappeared. These factors may explain why BBBQ have become undetectable in their former range. Photo W.McLennan, Courtesy Queensland Museum Network Collection.


The Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is a cryptic and nocturnal bird, endemic to Australia's arid interior. It's classified as Endangered by state and federal agencies.

For over 100 years, there was only a drip-feed of tantalising sightings and dead specimens that told us the species was still out there somewhere. Then in 2013, the major breakthrough came...


In 2013, live Night Parrots were discovered on Brighton Downs cattle station in western Queensland after an arduous search by John Young. The area on Brighton Downs where Night Parrots occur was subdivided in 2016 and purchased by Bush Heritage Australia.

Since 2013, Rachel Murphy, Nick Leseberg and Steve Murphy have conducted research on the Queensland population. Research highlights were radio- and GPS tracking, which allowed Night Parrot feeding habitats and movements to be described. They coupled this with an increased understanding of calling behaviour to develop reliable a survey method. This has been used to find additional populations in Western Australia.

Steve Murphy holding a GPS-tagged Night Parrot, moments before release. Photo: Rachel Murphy

Night Parrot Grant announcement. Curated by Braydon Moloney.


Night Parrots make a surprisingly diverse range of calls from frog-like croaks, to bell-like "dink-dinks" and even mimicry. Listening for these calls in suitable habitat using automatic recorders is the best way to find Night Parrots.

Starting in 2024, Conservation Partners will conduct surveys in Queensland to find new populations. It builds on information collected from landholder surveys in 2016.

Given the amount of potential habitat in western Queensland, there is almost certainly unknown groups of parrots that are under pressure from threats like Feral Cats. Locating these populations is the first critical step before appropriate management actions can be developed and implemented. The work is being done in collaboration with landholders and agencies.

The work is funded by the Queensland Government - Threatened Species Research Grant and Conservation Partners.