Saturday, July 9, 2011

Budgies versus Night Parrots

 I thought it would be interesting to know a little bit more about wild budgies and their co-inhabitants of the Australian Outback. That's how I learned about Night Parrots. If you look at the pictures below, you're sure to find some similarities!

Both budgerigars (melopsittacus undulatus) and night parrots (Pezoporus occidentalis) are native to Australia. The night parrot resembles the budgerigar but is larger. DNA testing has validated budgerigars and night parrots are related, because they have the same ancestors.

What else do they have in common?
  • they both are small parrots
  • the species' color is predominantly a (yellowish) green
  • natural habitat around spinifex grass in the Australian Outback

People in Australia have been able to see flocks of wild budgerigars racing through the sky. However, no known sightings of the Night Parrot were made between 1912 and 1979, leading to speculation that it was extinct. Sightings since 1979 have been extremely rare and the bird's population size is currently unknown. Even when the population size was abundant, the night parrot seemed to be an extremely cryptic and secretive species.

Image ©

How are night parrots different from budgerigars?
  • larger size
  • shorter tail
  • terrestrial nature
  • furtive nocturnal habits, even though quite a few records of Night Parrots are from during daytime

Budgies are asleep at night, but if necessary they can travel on to find water-bearing thunderstorms during harsh times of drought - even at night. Imagine these nomadic, storm-chasing desert bird tribes, millions of years ago - they were already there. Were they there together with the Night Parrot? Maybe they used to travel together, in search for food and water. And who were their ancestors?

1 comment:

  1. Cool post! I'm curious about the relationship between budgies and night parrots. I'd love to hear more about the little birds of Australia :)