Kea (Nestor notabilis)
Species: N. notabilis
Binomial name: Nestor notabilis
Common name: Kea, The clown of the mountains.
Not in Taranaki
The Nestor notabilis is one of ten endemic parrot species in New Zealand. It is a large native parrot 48 cm long and weighing 0.8–1 kg. It has mostly olive-green plumage with a grey beak having a long, narrow, curved upper beak. The adult has dark-brown irises, and the cere (a fleshy patch at the base of the upper mandible), eye rings, and its legs are grey. It has orange feathers on the undersides of its wings. The feathers on the sides of its face are dark olive-brown, feathers on its back and rump are orange-red, and some of the outer wing feathers are dull-blue. It has a short, broad, bluish-green tail with a black tip. Feather shafts project at the tip of the tail and the undersides of the inner tail feathers have yellow-orange transverse stripes. The male is about 5% longer than the female, and the male's upper beak is 12–14% longer than the female's. Juveniles generally resemble adults, but have yellow eye rings and cere, an orange-yellow lower beak, and grey-yellow legs.
The Kea is the world's only alpine parrot. It ranges from lowland river valleys and coastal forests of the Westcoast up to the alpine regions of the South Island such as Arthur's Pass and Aoraki/Mount Cook national Park. Its omnivorous diet includes more than 40 plant species (roots, leaves, berries and nectar), insects, beetle larva, other birds (including shearwater chicks) and carrion.
Now uncommon, the Kea was once killed for bounty due to concerns by the sheep-farming community because of its attacked sheep. There are anecdotal reports of Kea having attacked rabbits, dogs, and even horses.
In 1993 its nocturnal assaults on sheep were captured on video, proving that at least some Kea will attack and feed on healthy sheep. The video confirmed what many scientists had long suspected, that the Kea uses its powerful, curved beak and claws to rip through the layer of wool and eat the fat from the back of the animal. Though the bird does not directly kill the sheep, death can result from infections or accidents suffered by animals when trying to escape.
The killing of kea was legal up until 1971 when partial protection was granted under the Wildlife Act. This was followed by full protection in 1986 after pressure from Forest and Bird. It is now a serious offence to kill a kea with a conviction resulting in a fine of up to $100,000 (+$5,000 per additional head or egg of wildlife) or up to 6 month’s imprisonment (Wildlife Act, 1953 No. 31 s 67A).
Now days any damage to sheep on high country farms, equipment and vehicles at ski fields, public parking areas, private farms and homes has in serious situations, resulted in kea being legally relocated by the Department of Conservation to alternative locations.
The Kea nests in burrows or crevices among the roots of trees. Keas are known for their intelligence and curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment. Kea can solve logical puzzles, such as pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get to food, and will work together to achieve a certain objective.
Click green icon to hear the call of a Kea. Thanks to http://www.kiwi-wildlife.co.nz/
Photos showing the colourful underside feathers. These are only visable when flying.
Kea documentary - the smartest parrot
Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/