The only known egg of the Night Parrot? A molecular and morphometric assessment of an alleged egg from the Tanami Desert

Penny Olsen, Jeremy Austin, Stephen Murphy, Gavin Dally

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    The Night Parrot Pezoporus occidentalis is a much sought-after, recently 'rediscovered', endangered nocturnal parrot, endemic to arid Central Australia. Very little is known of its ecology, and its eggs have never been formally described. The literature on the eggs of the Night Parrot is collated here, and the provenance of an alleged Night Parrot egg found in the Tanami Desert, Northern Territory, in 1983 was assessed using DNA analysis and physical characteristics. Anecdotal reports from the late 19th-early 20th Century indicate that the Night Parrot lays a clutch of two to six roundish, white eggs. We suggest that its eggs are probably similar to and slightly larger than those of its congener, the Ground Parrot P. wallicus. The alleged Night Parrot egg was definitively identified by mitochondrial DNA analysis to be from the Brown Quail Synoicus ypsilophorus. This represents the first evidence of breeding by this species in the Tanami Desert, and lays to rest a long-standing misconception regarding the parrot.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)211-214
    Number of pages4
    JournalAustralian Field Ornithology
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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