Friday, 14 November 2014

Remnants of Paradise

paradise parrot termite mound jade welch birds
Termite Mounds were used for nesting by the Paradise Parrot

Recently I was driving through habitat that was once part of the Paradise Parrots former range. The Paradise Parrot (Psephotus pulcherriumus) has been extinct for quite some time now (having last been seen around 1927) and although there is a view by some that it still exists, this is rather unlikely. Take a look in the collection of many museums around the world and you will find a cabinet holding the skins of this little Aussie parrot. Aside from some great photos and notes on the birds, skins and some eggs are about all we have left of the bird.

museum paradise parrot termite mound jade welch birds
Skins of the Paradise Parrot are all we have left of the bird

Though the parrot is gone, there is one remnant left that reminds one of this Parrot that once occupied the lands. You see the Paradise Parrot was a Ant-bed Parrot that excavated a nesting chamber in terrestrial termite mounds. These termite mounds still to this day dot the land. As such I thought I'd quickly pull the car over, get out the Iphone (sadly didn't have my camera) and snap a couple of photos of the termite mounds for all to see. 

paradise parrot termite mound jade welch birds
Termite mounds still dot much of the past range of the Paradise Parrot
Sadly the photos are not great but the best I could get at the time. In two of the photos you can see that around the termite mound there is much debris and leaf litter. This photo was taken in a section where road works are taking place and this termite mound may soon itself be extinct.
Hooded Parrot paradise parrot termite mound jade welch birds
The Hooded Parrot - Another of the Ant-bed Parrots
If the two other Ant-bed Parrots (Golden-shouldered & Hooded) are anything to go by we could expect that the Paradise Parrot would have had a preference for nesting in Termite mounds over a metre high. The two pics of the one by the road side are of a Termite Mound between 60-90cm's so would probably be an unlikely nest site if the parrots were still around.

paradise parrot termite mound jade welch birds
This Termite mound in its present state is likely too have been too small for the Parrots
The ramifications for the loss of this Parrot may not seem to be great. However like the two other Ant-bed Parrots who have a symbiotic relationship with a moth (mentioned in my upcoming blog post on the Hooded Parrot) the Paradise Parrot may have as well. With the loss of the Paradise Parrot have we lost the moth? Have we reduced the homes of lizards and snakes that may have sheltered in the former nest sites of the Parrot? What other affect has the loss of the Parrot had on the environment? Sadly it is likely we shall never know. 

For those wanting to know more about these spectacular birds visit the following site -

Happy Birdkeeping,

Copyright © Jade Welch - All Rights Reserved. All photographs and text are protected
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