Ian’s Bird of the Week – Kea

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #1

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Kea ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 1/26/12

If you park near the entrance to the Homer Tunnel on the way to Milford Sound in Fiordland on the South Island of New Zealand, you are likely to be approached by one of these interesting-looking parrots.

‘Friendly-looking chap’, you might think, ‘I wonder what he’s after? Just saying Hello? Some food maybe?’. Wrong. This one, the Kea, has a one-track mind, and is only interested in destruction, or more specifically dismantling your vehicle.
Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #2

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #2

Quick as a flash, it and his pals will check it out for weak spots and set to work – this one with yellow cere, lower mandible and eye-ring is a juvenile delinquent (yes, that’s snow in the background, these are tough birds). Let’s see if we can rip the roof off.

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #3

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #3

Oh well, the roof was stronger than it looked. How about the braking light above the back door, this has some promising cracks.

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #4

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #4

Meanwhile, this hardened criminal (this is an adult bird) has learnt that the rubber is more vulnerable and attacks the lining of the front door.
Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #5

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #5

And don’t think you can get rid of us by just driving off. We’ll hang on grimly until we get blown off by the breeze.

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #6

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #6

Keas have the reputation of being playful, but the intensity and obsessiveness of their attacks looked anything like a game to me and more like a compulsion. In fact, their attacks did no noticeable damage even though I parked the camper there for some time so that I could look for the Rock Wrens (Bird of the Week #438). According to my field guide ‘the worst offending birds are caught and transferred to distant sites or taken into captivity’. Sounds familiar.

At one time, Keas were supposed to kill sheep, and the resulting bounty led to their persecution and decline. They have been fully protected since 1986 and the population is recovering.
Keas are quite large birds, 46cm/18in in length and weighting up to 1Kg/2.2lbs. They and their relatives the Kaka and the Kakapo comprise a taxonomically distinct lineage of New Zealand parrots not closely related to any others and usually placed either in their own family (IOC) or sub-family (Birdlife International). While the flightless Kakapo is critically endangered and the subject of an intensive rescue mission http://www.kakaporecovery.org.nz/ , the Kea is quite common in Alpine areas of the South Island and the Kaka occurs in the forests of both islands, though I failed to find it on this trip. It’s good to leave something for the next visit.
Best wishes
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

Sounds like you might want to keep an eye on your personal property around those birds! It is amazing how much the birds vary in their habits and diets. Every time Ian writes about his encounters with the various birds, it’s always different and interesting. Keep up the great birding, Ian, we enjoy your encounters with our avian friends around the world.

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

See Ian’s Cockatoos & Allies and his Parrots & Allies, which are part of the Strigopidae Family. Those parrots along with the Cockatoos – Cacatuidae and Parrots – Psittacidae Families make up the Psittaciformes Order.

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Formed By Him – The Kakapo

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place. (Isaiah 34:14 ESV)

The Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is another unique bird Formed by the Creator. The following articles will introduce you to a New Zealand bird that is extremely endangered with only about 90-120 left in the world (depending on sources). They belong to the Strigopidae Family, of which it is the only bird in the Strigops genus and keeps company with the Kea and New Zealand Kaka of the Nestor genus. The three are classified as New Zealand Parrots and belong to the Psittaciformes Order of Parrots and Cockatoos.

From Creation Moments: A Truly Strange Bird

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalms 40:5 KJV)

Though God created the entire living kingdom in only a few days, the variety and creativity of what He made seems nearly unlimited by our standards. One of the more unusual creatures He made was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1958.

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

The kakapo parrot lives in New Zealand. The most unusual parrot on Earth, it is one of only a few known parrots that prefers to sleep during the day and becomes active at night. Weighing in at five pounds, it is also the world’s heaviest parrot. It is, perhaps not surprisingly, the world’s only non-flying parrot.

The Creator’s unusual expression of inventive creativity in designing the kakapo did not end here. The mating habits of the kakapo are especially peculiar for birds. In mating season, the males gather in locations that are used year after year for mate selection. Female parrots come to these places to inspect the males to select a mate. However, in most un-bird-like fashion, the males provide absolutely no help building the nest or rearing the young.

The kakapo is remarkable because of its many strange traits, most of which would make it least fit for survival. In other words, not only is it an unusual creature, but its more unusual characteristics seem to put it at a disadvantage as far as evolution is concerned. So while evolution would not have made the kakapo, our inventive Creator did, perhaps as a witness against evolution.
Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, I thank You for the beauty and creativity You have placed into Your work of creation and for the blessings these gifts add to life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Notes:
Discover, Mar. 1985. p. 36. ©Creation Moments 3/10/11

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation-To See Relative Size

This is what Wikipedia (with editing) has to say about the Kakapo:

“The Kakapo (Māori: kākāpō, meaning night parrot), Strigops habroptila, also called owl parrot, is a species of large (60 cm, 24 in), flightless nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. It has finely blotched yellow-green plumage, a distinct facial disc of sensory, vibrissa-like feathers, a large grey beak, short legs, large feet, and wings and a tail of relatively short length. A certain combination of traits makes it unique among its kind—it is the world’s only flightless parrot, the heaviest parrot (2-4 kg, 4.5-9 lb), nocturnal, herbivorous, visibly sexually dimorphic in body size, has a low basal metabolic rate, no male parental care, and is the only parrot to have a polygynous lek breeding system. It is also possibly one of the world’s longest-living birds. Its anatomy typifies the tendency of bird evolution on oceanic islands, with few predators and abundant food: a generally robust physique, with accretion of thermodynamic efficiency at the expense of flight abilities, reduced wing muscles, and a diminished keel on the sternum.

The Kakapo is critically endangered; as of February 2010, only 120 living individuals are known, most of which have been given names.

The Kakapo has a well-developed sense of smell, which complements its nocturnal lifestyle. It can discriminate among odours while foraging; a behaviour reported for only one other parrot species. One of the most striking characteristics of the Kakapo is its pleasant and powerful odour, which has been described as musty. Given the Kakapo’s well-developed sense of smell, this scent may be a social chemosignal.”

More about the Kakapo from Wikipedia

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing camaflage

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC Showing The Lord’s Design of Camaflage

Facts about the Kakapo from New Zealand’s Dept of Conservation:
* It is the heaviest parrot in the world. Males can weigh over two kilograms. Unique among land birds, it can store large amounts of energy as body fat.
* It is the only parrot to have a ‘lek’ mating system: males compete for ‘calling posts’ specially dug-out bowls in the earth and call (“boom”) each night in summer months for a female. The male’s low-frequency mating boom travels over several kilometres. It is the only parrot to have an inflatable thoracic air sac.
* Kākāpō breed every three to four years.
* A bird can range several kilometres in one night.
* Although it cannot fly, it is good at climbing trees.
* The birds are herbivores and eat variety of foods such as roots, leaves and fruit
* Kākāpō once ranged from near sea level to high in the mountains.
* Possibly as defence against its ancient predator – the giant eagle – the kākāpō became nocturnal and learned to remain still (‘freeze’) at times of danger.

More about the Kakapo from the New Zealand Department of Conservation

Kakapo Release by Spokebird

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