Wednesday 12 August 2015

Bird of the Day

This little charmer is the Night Parrot, the latest 'extinct' bird to be found alive and well and quietly going about its business in the wild. Discovered in 1845 and barely seen again until a couple of carcasses turned up in the Queensland Outback in 1990 and 2006, the Night Parrot has been described as the 'holy grail' of birdwatching. Indeed, when a naturalist claimed to have seen one alive in 2013, it was hailed as 'the birdwatching equivalent of finding Elvis flipping burgers in an outback roadhouse'. Well, he may not be Elvis, but he (or she - they don't know, but have called him/her Pedro) has been found now, examined, identified and fitted with an electronic tag - which has since fallen off.
 Even the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker - of which I've written before - seems not be extinct, to judge by recent reports of sightings. But the saddest/funniest story of a bird back from 'extinction' is that of Worcester's Buttonquail, an obscure Philippines rarity long thought to have died out altogether. A specimen was filmed unknowingly in 2009 by a documentary crew reporting on life in the mountains of Luzon. Watching the finished film, a local ornithologist was stunned to realise that the bird was a Worcester's Buttonquail. But by then it was too late - the unhappy quail had been taken to market, sold for the equivalent of 10p, and eaten.

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