The first museum specimen of the Night Parrot was collected in 1845, but lay unnoticed and unrecognised until well into the 20th century.
Since then the parrot has continued to elude seekers, revealing itself only intermittently and often sparking tensions over the reliability of sightings.
The recent discoveries of small populations in south-east Queensland and the heart of Western Australia have only heightened interest in the bird and the mysteries of its biology.
Penny Olsen is a research scientist and Honorary Professor in the Division of Ecology and Evolution, Research School of Biology, at the Australian National University. She has written extensively on Australian natural history and its practitioners, including about 30 books, most recently An Eye for Nature: The Life and Art of William T. Cooper (National Library of Australia, 2014) and Night Parrot: Australia’s Most Elusive Bird (CSIRO Publishing, 2018).