Strigops habroptila

Physical Description

The Kākāpō is a unique and critically endangered parrot species known for its distinctive appearance. It is a large, flightless bird with moss-green feathers that provide excellent camouflage in the forest. Kākāpō have a round body shape, short wings, and a large beak. Adult males have a characteristic owl-like face with prominent facial disc feathers.

Habitat and Range

Kākāpō are endemic to New Zealand and historically inhabited both the North and South Islands. Today, their range is restricted to predator-free offshore islands, such as Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), Anchor Island, and Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier Island). They prefer native forests and scrublands.

Feeding Habits

Kākāpō are herbivorous birds with a specialised diet. They primarily feed on the leaves, bark, fruits, seeds, and flowers of various native plants, including rimu, kahikatea, and totara trees. They are known to climb trees to reach their food sources.

Breeding and Nesting

Kākāpō have a unique breeding behaviour tied to the availability of fruiting trees. They are lek breeders, where males gather in specific areas called "lek sites" and engage in competitive displays to attract females. After successful mating, females lay several eggs in a nesting burrow or cavity in the ground.

Conservation Status

The Kākāpō is one of the world's rarest and most critically endangered birds. Due to habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals, and low fertility rates, the population declined dramatically. Conservation efforts, including intensive management, predator control, and a successful breeding program, aim to save the species from extinction.

Trees and Plant Preferences

Kākāpō rely on a range of native tree species for their survival. Fruit-bearing trees, such as rimu, kahikatea, and totara, are essential in their diet. These trees provide them with the necessary nutrition and energy to thrive.

Interesting Facts

  • Kākāpō are known for their distinctive booming calls, which can be heard over long distances. These calls are used to attract mates and establish territories.
  • They are the heaviest parrot species in the world, with some individuals reaching weights of up to 4 kilograms.
  • Kākāpō have a unique breeding strategy known as "asynchronous hatching," where eggs in a clutch hatch at different times, ensuring that the first-hatched chick receives the most attention and food from the parents.
  • They have a long lifespan and can live for several decades.