Worldwide, only two species of Parrots are known, which are nocturnal, one of which is the new Zealand Kakapo, the other in Australia, local night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is. However, of the latter little is known, because this bird is only found in the dry Interior of Australia, and so rarely is that for him to get 100 years, no one has to face. In 2013, a Population of this parrot has been discovered in southwest Queensland, and for the first time photographed.

Not a good night vision

“This parrot is so shy that we do not even know how many individuals are left,” explains Vera Weisbecker of the Flinders University in Adelaide. “But to get this kind of, it is crucial to be aware of your behavior and your skills.” A hitherto unknown aspect is how these birds find their way at night. To find out, Weis, Becker and her Team examined the single intact skull of a dead found night parrots by means of micro-tomography in detail. In focus especially the eyes and the optic nerves of these birds were.

“night parrots need to be able to find it at night food to avoid all the obstacles and to escape predators,” said Weisbecker. “We have therefore expected that their visual system shows appropriate adaptation to the See in the dark like other nocturnal birds like the owls or the Kakapo.” But to the Surprise of the scientists, they were not the night parrot in this respect, a find. The rare bird has in contrast to other nocturnal birds, neither larger eyes, a thicker optic nerve or enlarged visual areas in the brain. On the contrary, His organs of sight are reduced compared to those of closely related diurnal species of Parrots, even more, the researchers discovered.

fences are as invisible obstacle

in the view of Weis, Becker and her Team, this suggests that the night parrot has in comparison to other parrots pretty bad eyes: “His sense of sight is sensitive to light, but has only a weak resolution,” report the researchers. “For the night parrot, this blurred vision but normally not a Problem, because you live in open habitats with few trees. The risk to fly into a natural obstacle, therefore, is for you low.” In the vast, barren Outback of Australia with its sparse vegetation and the almost tree-less Expanses of the blurry vision does not harm the night parrot therefore.

however, The Problem: The Outback is now being pulled more and more by the fences, the Farmer to the perimeter of your pasture set up. They could be Traps for the night parrot to dangerous. Because of the usually made of thin wire or even barbed wire to existing fences are in poor light or at night for him, barely visible. Even birds that can see better at night, were found more often victims of, these obstacles, and dead or badly injured, at the foot of the fences, as the scientists report. “

The night parrot looks even worse than these birds, and therefore, wire fences for him, could pose a significant risk,” said Weis, Becker and her colleagues. They recommend, therefore, to make fences in the Outback, more visible, or to instead use electric fences with less wires. This could help to get the few remaining copies of the rare and elusive night parrot.

source: Flinders University; articles: Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-65156-0

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