Australia's rare, indefinite nocturnal parrot may not see it so well in the dark

Australia’s rare, indefinite nocturnal parrot may not see it so well in the dark

In fact, the bird’s vision is probably similar to that of parrots during the day.

The fact that this parrot is not adapted to living in the dark, despite its nocturnal state, could contribute to its critical threatened situation.

“Night parrots need to be able to find their way at night – find food, avoid obstacles in flight and escape predators,” said Vera Weisbecker, a study author and associate professor of evolutionary biology at college. Science and Engineering at Flinders University, in one statement.

“So we expect their optical system to show adjustments to see in the dark, similar to other nocturnal birds – New Zealand’s Kakapo parrot and large-eyed owls, for example. However, we found that this is not the case.”

This species is so rare that researchers only had one intact skull for scanning and studying. They compare CT scans with those of related parrots’ skulls.

The researchers found that the parrot had eyes similar in size to other parrots at night. He also had smaller optic nerves and lobes. This means that the nocturnal parrot has sensitive eyesight, but it is not great to see in the dark. It also has poor resolution, so it can’t tell the difference between obstacles, such as fencing in the Australian interior or the following predators.

The fence is used inside Australia to contain animals and keep predators away.

“These results suggest that the removal of unused fencing should be a priority in areas where night parrots are known to occur,” said Nick Leseberg, a study author, night parrot specialist and doctoral student from the School of Earth Science and Environmental Science. Queensland, a statement.

“However, we probably can’t go completely without fences – stocks need to be managed with fences and some forms of foreclosure could be important to protect Night Parrot. So we have to be very careful with fencing strategies.” at least by increasing the visibility of wires, but alternatives such as low voltage electric fencing could be even better. “

A rare breed

The sample, which was actually studied, was found in 1990 by Australian bird expert Walter Boles.

“His mummified body was accidentally found on the side of the road after he was apparently hit by a truck – it’s amazing that his skull was left intact,” Weisbecker said.

The bird species was first recorded in 1845, but after 1912, it appeared to be extinct.

The bird is so rare that it is thought to have become extinct for most of the 20th century.

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Night parrots are one of the two species of nocturnal parrots in the world. The other is Kakapo in New Zealand. The parrots of the night are kept hidden inside the Australian interior.

After the mummified bird was found in 1990, it would be another 23 years before they were found to be living in the wild.

Now, scientists and conservators are working to protect the species.

“The species is so vague that we don’t even know how many people are left,” said Andrew Iwaniuk, a study author and biologist at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, in a statement. “To preserve the species, it is crucial to understand its behavioral needs and capabilities, but it is almost impossible to observe them.”

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