An Amazing Kakapo: The critically endangered New Zealand parrot.
The Kakapo is a critically endangered flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand. This bird dwells in the forests of the Whenua Hou, Maud Island, Hauturu, Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, Marlborough Sounds and Hauturu/Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Kakapo also lives on the predator-free island in Fiordland.
Kakapo birds are the fattest and heaviest parrots in the world and are of a green moss color with yellow and black but with more of a yellow below. Their bills and feet are grey, and their feet have pale soles. Their face resembles a pale owl. The word Kakapo is a Maori word that means night parrot. Another name for the Kakapo is an owl parrot.
They are an unusual-looking parrot, but their nature is friendly. The lifespan of Kakapo ranges from 60 to 125 years. Their height ranges from 58 to 65 cm, and they weigh about 1–4 kg. Kakapos travel at a top speed of 5mph i.e., 8 kilometers per hour.
History of An Amazing Kakapo-
The Kakapo used to live throughout all of New Zealand. They are one of the oldest living birds in the world. However, once the Maori and Europeans arrived, their populations dwindled. The birds died out from the North Island in the 1930s.
They persisted to live in the wetter parts of the South Island before their populations dwindled. Stewart Island population of Kakapo declined because of cat predation. They now live only in predator-free islands such as the Chalky and Anchor Islands and Whenua Hou, Maud Island and Hauturu. Maori and Europeans used Kakapo as pets because of their friendly nature.
Predators, Habitat, and food:
The birds are flightless and have a friendly nature. They also exhibit a unique smell. The sad part is that this unique smell attracts predators. The Kakapo’s main predators are feral cats, otters, stoats, rats, humans, and kiore. It is because of introducing invasive species like feral cats and rats that the Kakapo are now only living on predator-free islands.
The Kakapo used to live in a wide range of wet vegetation lands but because of many factors like the risk of predators, they now live in forests.
Kakapo is vegetarian and eats leaves, buds, flowers, fern fronds, bark, roots, rhizomes, bulbs, fruit, and seeds. Their diet varies.
The New Zealand Government implemented the Kakapo Conservation Programme in 1995. As of 2019, there are only 147 Kakapo left.
Other interesting facts about the Kakapo:
Kakapo is nocturnal, solitary birds that forage on the ground and can climb high onto trees. Their large, scaly, muscular legs have helped them become excellent climbers and hikers. They are the only parrots in the world that do not fly. Kakapos have an unusual way of walking. Their gait resembles that of jogging. When they jump off trees, they use their wings like a parachute.
The birds try to blend in with their surroundings and they stand in a frozen position. The reason they exhibit this trait is that of a predator’s presence. This mechanism helps them evade many predators. Their acute sense of smell assists the Kakapo in eating at night.