Nestor meridionalis

Physical Description

The Kākā is a large forest parrot known for its vibrant plumage and distinctive call. It has predominantly olive-brown feathers with touches of red on the underparts. The face and forehead are adorned with orange, red, and grey feathers. They have a strong beak and long tails.

Habitat and Range

Kākā are native to New Zealand and are found in native forests throughout the North and South Islands. They prefer diverse forest habitats, including both lowland and upland areas, but they have also adapted to modified landscapes and urban environments.

Feeding Habits

Kākā are omnivorous birds with a varied diet. They feed on nectar, fruit, seeds, flowers, and buds of native trees, such as kōwhai, kahikatea, and pōhutukawa. They also consume insects, grubs, and the bark of some trees. Their strong beaks allow them to access food sources that other birds cannot.

Breeding and Nesting

Kākā breed during the spring and summer months. They build nests using twigs and leaves in tree cavities or dense foliage. The female typically lays 2-4 eggs, and both parents participate in incubation and raising the chicks. Young Kākā remains with their parents for several months after fledging.

Conservation Status

The Kākā is a protected species in New Zealand. While they are relatively common in some areas, populations have declined due to habitat loss, predation by introduced species (such as rats and stoats), and hunting in the past. Conservation efforts focus on predator control, habitat restoration, and public awareness.

Trees and Plant Preferences

Kākā are attracted to various native tree species that provide essential food sources. They are particularly fond of trees with nectar-rich flowers, such as kōwhai, flax, and rātā. Fruit-bearing trees, including kahikatea and tawa, are also important in their diet.

Interesting Facts

  • Kākā are highly intelligent and social birds known for their playful behaviour and vocalisations, including loud squawks and mimicry of other sounds.
  • They have strong, curved beaks ideal for cracking open seeds and nuts.
  • Kākā are capable of flying long distances and are known to move between different forest habitats in search of food sources.
  • They are important seed dispersers, as they consume fruits and disperse the seeds throughout their range, contributing to forest regeneration.