The Kakapo, also called the owl parrot or the night parrot, is a flightless bird which can be found only in New Zealand. It’s the world’s only flightless parrot. This means it is very prone to being a pray to all kind of carnivorous animals. This fact makes New Zealanders to mount monumental efforts in order to save this charming bird from extinction. parrots
5 Fun facts about the Kakapos
1. Although it’s the world’s only flightless parrot, they still get around well enough.
Their wings are small so they can’t be used for flying. Instead, they use it for balance and support. Their feathers are much softer than those of normal birds, that is, because, they do not need to be strong and stiff for flight. The kakapos have strong legs which carry them around. They make for excellent climbing and running. They also like climbing trees and although they’re not using their wings for flying, they are still very very useful. They jump from the top of the tree and use them for parachuting to the forest ground.
2.These nocturnal parrots have a unique smell
These parrots sleep in trees or on the forest floor in the day time. They become active only at night. The kakapo has a well-developed sense of smell, which helps with its nightlife. They are also described to have a musty-sweet odour. This is most likely to help them find each other in the forest, to find partners. Sadly, this also makes them easier to find by predators. This, unfortunately, makes them a rather easy prey.
But, unlike other birds, it is very sturdy. It can store a lot of body fat which makes it the heaviest parrot in the world.
3.The Kakapos are very sweet and friendly birds
Their friendliness is what makes them a possibly good pet. Early inhabitants like the Maori and European settlers used to keep these charming birds as pets. Wild kakapos are known to be very friendly with people. They even approach, preen and climb on people. George Edward Gray, the one who first wrote about them, and who kept one as a pet, described their behaviour as being more similar to dogs than to birds.
4. They are the longest living parrots
These amazing birds have a life expectancy of more than 90 years. Compared to most birds, they live their lives at a slow pace. Males start breeding around 4 years old while females only around 6 years old. Males court females in a group performance. They dance and sing in order to attract females.
5. Unique mating calls
They can walk up to 4 miles during their breeding season, when they compete against other males for the female’s attention. They dig holes in areas with rocks and stones in order to better emit their mating songs. The males emit low-frequency ‘booms’ that can travel as far as 7km. After around 20 of these ‘booms’, they change their tone to a high-pitched ‘ching’. This song can go on for up to eight hours per night. This happens during the entire duration of the breeding season, which lasts between 2 and 4 months.
You can listen to their songs on the following site.
You can also watch one of these charming parrots try to mate with zoologist Mark Carwadine’s head.
Kakapos are critically endangered
The problem arose when the Maori people first settled in New Zealand. They brought with them a lot of predators like cats, rats and sloats. Due to their inability to protect themselves, the Kakapos quickly began to disappear. This problem intensified when the European settlers came. With no defence against these new type of predators, the Kakapos stood no chance against them. In the year 1980, the New Zealand Department of Conservation started a plan to protect and recover this bird species. Implementing the Kakapo Recovery Plan meant to round up and relocate all Kakapos to predator-free islands, setting up supplementary feeding stations and even the incubation of eggs and the hand-raising of chicks. This Recovery Plan has prevented them from going extinct, but, unfortunately, as of 2012 there were only 126 kakapos in the wild. Despite New Zealander’s best efforts, these birds are still very endangered.