The Western Ground Parrot (Pezoporus flaviventris) is a Western Australian endemic bird that is perilously close to extinction. This blog aims to compile an archive of information garnered between the 1800s and 2009 about this elusive bird. Up-to-date information about the Western Ground Parrot, including current conservation measures, can be found from the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot website :
Simon Nevill, who is very knowledgeable about Australian birds, noticed two Western Ground Parrots in the Audley End House Collection when he was visiting more than ten years ago. He found that these ground parrots had been sent to Richard Cornwallis Neville, 4th Lord Braybrooke, an avid collector of natural history and archeology, whose home was Audley End House. They were sent by a colonist of the Swan River Colony, on the Unicorn which was due to sail from Fremantle in January 1846. Simon also obtained a copy of part of the consignment list, and part of the accompanying letter to Lord Braybrooke. A photo of the House and part of those copies can be seen in an earlier posting entitled 'Audley End House' and dated October 27 2013. Audley End House is in Cambridgeshire, near Shelford. There is no information in the letter about the exact source of the Western Ground Parrots. All the birds and animals in that consignment came from 'different parts of the colony'. The photos below were kindly provided by English Heritage.
This bird (above) appears to be a mature male - by the colour of the throat and the shape of the upper mandible.
Two males and a female are on the consignment list yet only two appear to be on display. Unsure from this image whether this bird is a male or a female and also it is not known whether the sender was reliable at sexing the birds.
There was a high interest in Europe in collecting during the 1800s as it had become possible to classify specimens and as colonisation continued to expand. The central case (above) contains the Western Ground Parrots as well as many other Australian birds, not all from the Swan River Colony or Western Australia.
The photo below was published in The Emu, Volume 53 (1953), Plate 25, soon after his death at the age of 93, earlier in 1953. F. Lawson Whitlock was the collector of the only clutch of Western Ground Parrot eggs to be taken from the wild (see previous posting). He described the search in the article (The Emu, Volume 13, 1914) which forms part of the first posting in the Western Ground Parrot History blog.
An extract: ......and was fortunate, after a long and weary search, in securing three fine and freshly laid eggs, from a nest sheltered as before by a prickly (?Hakea) bush. This was on 20th November - just a month later than the previous season. I flushed the female from this nest at a distance of about 10 feet away, and though I made several attempts to see her sitting on the eggs, I was unsuccessful in this respect.The eggs were well sheltered by the overhanging bush, and the nest was very neatly lined with fine dead grasses, the latter being arranged in a true circular manner. When flushed the female flew a short distance away and uttered no sound. I saw nothing of the male. As far as I can judge, he spends the day at some distance from the nest, lying concealed in the low thick scrub, from which he will not emerge until nearly trodden upon.....