If you had to ask an average Australian the name of a threatened bird in this country, many would nominate the Orange-bellied Parrot. Critically endangered, and with fewer than 50 left in the wild, it is justifiably one of Australia’s most well-known endangered species.
Birds around the world rely on colourful plumage to identify and assess their kinsmen. Birds see colour using four colour visual pigments in their cone cells in addition to a rod pigment that is used in dim light vision. Each of these visual pigments is made up of one of five opsin proteins (LWS, SW1, SWS2, RH2 and RH1) and a chromophore, where each pigment absorbs a different range of light wavelengths. In some non-avian species the spectral sensitivities of these visual pigments have co-evolved with body colour and differ between individuals of the same species. Curiously, however, to date all studies suggest that the visual pigments vary little within the avian class, and even less within a particular species. To investigate further, Ben Knott, a researcher at Deakin University, and Wayne Davies, from the University of Western Australia, both in Australia, and their colleagues turned to the unusual parrot Platycercus elegans whose plumage can range from red to yellow (p. 4454).
DUSSELDORF — The air is ice cold without a hint of wind. As night falls over Düsseldorf, they come flocking from all directions: thousands of ring-necked parakeets. They land on the plane trees that line the luxury Königsallee shopping street. Men in expensive suits and women in fur coats look up in amazement. A little girl tugs at her mother’s sleeve and says, “Mommy, they’re back.”
The Maricao State Forest in western Puerto Rico has been selected as the site for a third colony in the wild of Puerto Rican parrots on the island, the aim of which is to foster their reproduction and get them off the endangered species list, officials said Thursday.
The population of one of the world's rarest birds, the orange-bellied parrot, has been artificially increased with the release of more captive birds into Tasmania's south-west wilderness.