K is for Kea
This photo of the very beautiful kea parrot is by Sid Mosdell, on Flikr.
Kea parrots are endemic to the south island of New Zealand, where they live in the mountains. They are quite big birds, as large as a small cat, which helps with insulating them for this habitat. They are the world’s only alpine parrot.
Their natural diet comprises over 200 different types of insect and vegetation – flowers, roots, insects, nectar and fruit.
They are estimated by scientists to be as clever as a 4 year old child – and like any clever being, they are intensely curious.
Visitors to the mountains are subject to the keas’ investigations (and destruction) of anything they happen to have with them. Keas take apart cars, rip through tyres, remove rubber seals so windows drop out, all using their strong beaks.
This great action picture of a kea sampling a car part by Andrea Schaffer on Flikr, also shows its beautiful underwing colours.
In skiing resorts they sample the food humans eat – chips, beer, tea, everything is tried, especially if it has a high fat content.
Residents of New Zealand’s snowy Southern Alps have their work cut out trying to kea-proof their homes, aerials, satellite dishes, gardens, cars and bins from these parrots. They are protected as they are so endangered, so any action taken has to be careful not to harm the birds. These parrots soon learn how to remove catches and weights from refuse bins to access food inside!
Scientists from all over the world have flocked themselves to New Zealand to study these extraordinarily clever birds – let’s hope they find a way of keeping them safe from the introduced predators, stoats and possums, that enter the keas’ nest burrows and kill chicks.
Keas also face problems from lead – nails and flashing, which they can swallow and be poisoned by in their explorations, illicit wildlife trade (being caught to be used as pets), being accidentally poisoned by the poisons laid down for the predators, and accidents involving cars, lawn-mowers and other human devices.
Here is a final picture by Aidan on Flikr of this cheeky bird, so full of character!
Lastly, here is my kea poem – a fun poem for a fun bird:
The cheekiest parrots I hear,
is the mountains of New Zealand’s kea –
destroys all it spies
this clown from the skies
and is smarter than all of its peers.
© Liz Brownlee
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Top image by Sid Mosdell on Flikr by Creative Commons License.
Middle image by Andrea Schaffer on Flikr by Creative Commons License.
Bottom image by Aidan on Flikr by Creative Commons License.
Poem © Liz Brownlee,
Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.