The Kea is a large species of parrot found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. They are the world’s only alpine parrot. Their omnivorous diet includes carrion¹ but consists mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar, and insects.
The Kea is around 48 cm, and their plumage is beautiful. They are mostly olive-green with each feather bordered by a dark grey colour. They have a grey, long narrow curved beak. They have burnt orange feathers on the undersides of their wings. The feathers on the back and rump are orange-red, and some of the outer wing are a teal blue. They have a short broad tail with a black tip.
The Kea has had a bad reputation. Prior to 1986 a bounty was placed on their head, due to concerns of sheep farmers, who suffered losses due to Kea’s attacking the sheep. Although it seems hard to imagine it is true. The Kea pecks the skin of sheep to take fat from around the kidneys. This open wound does not kill the sheep, but causes fatal blood infections. Sad for the Sheep and the farmers, but it would be worse if the Kea was eradicated from the earth by man. Thankfully the Kea is now fully protected.
They are highly intelligent and extremely curious. This is advantageous whilst living in a harsh mountain environment. Kea’s can solve logical puzzles, they can work together to achieve certain objectives and they have an insatiable fetish for rubber or any other object left unattended!
A fetish for all things rubber.
Leaving your car or property unaccompanied in Kea territory, can prove a costly exercise. As they take no time at all to strip the rubber from your vehicle or abscond with your belongings. They are curious, bold and fearless. They are entertaining to observe due to their cheeky antics but can be quite a nuisance if allowed to exercise their curiosity.
Call of the Kea:
All in all the Kea is a beautiful bird, interesting to watch, full of mischief and curiosity. A beautiful addition to the South Island of New Zealand.
¹Carrion – dead and decaying flesh on an animal.