Leichhardt: A Scientist in a Strange Land

Paradise Parrot

“…far surpasses in beauty every other species of the genus yet discovered.”

Attributed to Gilbert by Gould in <em>The Annals and Magazine of Natural History</em>, 1845

In 1844, the ornithologist John Gilbert joined Leichhardt’s Port Essington expedition as a collector for John Gould, the English ornithologist and illustrator. Earlier that year, while on the Darling Downs, Gilbert had collected the first Paradise Parrot and was so impressed with this species that he asked Gould to name it in his honour, a request that was refused. Gould named and described the parrot in 1845, Psephotus pulcherrimuspulcherrimus being Latin for very beautiful. In his diary of the Port Essington expedition, Gilbert makes several references to this bird, indicating the extent of its habitat. In addition to sighting the Paradise Parrot, Gilbert collected other species for Gould, which Leichhardt duly passed on to him.

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