Justification of Red List Category
This species was formerly found in eastern Australia, but it is now Extinct owing mainly to drought and overgrazing. It has not been recorded since 1928.
Psephotellus pulcherrimus was found in eastern Australia, only reported with certainty from southeastern Queensland. Claims from the north of the state are likely to have been mistaken. The species is also often said to have been found in New South Wales, but there have been no confirmed records (Olsen 2007). It was locally common although generally scarce in the 19th century (Forshaw and Cooper 1989), but then declined rapidly and was thought to have become extinct as a result of the drought of 1902 until it was rediscovered in 1918 (Chisholm 1922). The last confirmed observation was in 1928. Some credible reports continued into the 1930s and '40s (Olsen 2007), but although Kiernan (1993) claims to have seen five birds in 1990, the species is now considered Extinct (Collar et al. 1994).
It was a specialist of open savanna woodland and shrubby grassland, feeding on native grass seeds and nesting in termite mounds (Olsen 2007).
Its extinction was probably sealed by a reduction of its food supply due to drought and overgrazing (Olsen 2007). Altered fire frequencies and the spread of prickly pears (Joseph 1988), disease, trapping and egg-collecting (Garnett 1992), predation of nests by introduced and native species (Chisholm 1922) and clearance of eucalypts by ringbarking (Kiernan 1993) also contributed. Following major reduction in the species's population size, it appears that inbreeding inhibited the birds' fertility (Jerrard 2008).
Conservation Actions Underway
Still listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Text account compilers
Brooks, T., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Symes, A., Martin, R
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Psephotellus pulcherrimus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2022.