|Live individual photographed by the entrance to its nest, Burnett River, Queensland, 1922|
The paradise parrot (Psephotellus pulcherrimus) was a colourful medium-sized parrot native to the grassy woodlands of the Queensland – New South Wales border area of eastern Australia. Once moderately common within its fairly restricted range, the last live bird was seen in 1927. Extensive and sustained searches in the years since then have failed to produce any reliable evidence of it, and it is believed to be extinct.
Paradise parrots lived in pairs or small family groups, making their nests in hollowed-out termite mounds and similar places, often at or near ground level, and feeding, so far as is known, almost exclusively on grass seeds.
The plumage was extraordinarily colorful, even by parrot standards, a mixture of turquoise, aqua, scarlet, black and brown. The tail was almost the same length as the body—something difficult to understand in a bird that, although a rapid, undulating flyer, spent almost all of its time on the ground.
The reasons for the sudden decline of the paradise parrot remain speculative. Possibilities include overgrazing, land clearing, changed fire regimes, hunting by bird collectors, and predation by introduced mammals like cats and dogs. It became rare towards the end of the 19th century and was thought extinct by 1915. A series of searches turned up a few more individuals over the next decade, but the last confirmed sighting was on 14 September 1927.
Rotating bird skeleton video. Naturalis, acquisition of 1890
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