Nestor notabilis

Physical Description

The Kea is a large species of parrot known for its striking plumage and intelligent behaviour. They have predominantly olive-green feathers, with bright orange feathers under their wings. Kea have a long, curved beak, strong legs, and mighty wings. They also possess a long tail and are known for their playful and inquisitive nature.

Habitat and Range

Kea are endemic to the South Island of New Zealand and are primarily found in alpine and forested regions. They inhabit various habitats, including mountainous areas, beech forests, and subalpine grasslands. They are adaptable and can tolerate both native and modified landscapes.

Feeding Habits

Kea are omnivorous birds with a diet including plant material and animal prey. They feed on various food sources, including plants' roots, leaves, bark, fruits, seeds, insects, and even carrion. They are also known to scavenge at human settlements.

Breeding and Nesting

Kea form monogamous pairs during the breeding season. They nest in cavities or crevices in rock faces or trees. The female lays 2-4 eggs, and both parents participate in incubation and raising the chicks. Kea chicks have a long period of dependency and stay with their parents for an extended period.

Conservation Status

The Kea is classified as a protected species in New Zealand. While their population is relatively stable, they face threats such as habitat degradation, predation by introduced mammals (like stoats and possums), and human activities. Conservation efforts focus on predator control and promoting coexistence with human populations.

Trees and Plant Preferences

Kea is not attracted explicitly to particular trees for food or nesting purposes. However, they interact with various native plants in their habitat, including beech trees, which provide food sources such as buds, leaves, and seeds.

Interesting Facts

  • Kea are renowned for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities. They engage in curious and playful behaviour, such as manipulating objects and exploring their surroundings.
  • They have a loud and distinctive call, often described as a "kee-aa" or "kee-ee-aa."
  • Kea are known for their unique adaptation to alpine environments, with specialised feathers that help them withstand cold temperatures and high altitudes.
  • They are the world's only alpine parrot species, making them a remarkable and iconic bird of New Zealand.