Friday, August 23, 2013

Ground Parrot Specimens in Sweden

It is likely that Ground Parrot skins were sent to several museums and stately homes in Europe during the late 1700s and the 1800s when there was a fervour to discover and collect the wildlife of the wider world and to classify it.

In the 1800s, Australia was a group of British colonies later to become States with the main land mass still being called New Holland. Eastern Ground Parrots occurred in all Eastern States of Australia, including Queensland. The Western Ground Parrot occurs only in southern Western Australia.

The Goteburg Natural History Museum in Sweden holds five Ground Parrot specimens. All were given to the museum in 1864 by James J. Dickson, as part of a collection of Australian bird skins. The collection includes Superb Parrot, Brolga, Musk Lorikeet, Blue Bonnet, King Parrot, Superb Lyrebird, Satin Bowerbird, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Flame Robin, Superb Blue Fairy-wren, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Orange-bellied Parrot and several other more widespread species. None of these birds occurs in southern Western Australia and there are no southern Western Australian endemics on the list. It is possible but by no means certain that the collection was made in the colony of Victoria though not from the same location. All are labeled as from New Holland with nothing more specific. As part of this collection, the Ground Parrots are highly likely to be Eastern Ground Parrots.

One specimen is mounted and its image appears below. The number 1742 which can be seen on one of the labels on a skin is a specimen number, not a date.

We were aided in obtaining the above information by Dr G. Nilson, Collection Strategist – Senior Curator of Vertebrates, Goteburg Natural History Museum, Sweden. ( He also supplied the photo of two skins.

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