Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 241 - Kea

New Zealand is a remarkable place.  Apart from bats its has not native terrestrial mammals.  In the absence of native cats, rats and rabbits, birds have evolved that fill some of the ecological niches left vacant by the absence of mammals.  Another way of looking at this is to consider New Zealand as a possible example of what the worlds ecosystems would have looked like if they had not come to be dominated by mammals after the extinction event that removed dinosaurs.

One of the birds that has filled a 'mammal niche' is the Kea (Nestor notabilis).  This is a large parrot - about 50cm long - with mostly green feathers, although it shows orange under its wings and tail.

This bird has a surprisingly large curved beak which it uses to find food.  Its food includes roots, berries and insects, but it will also take carrion and has been recently filmed feeding on the 'back fat' of sheep.  Like many parrots the Kea is intelligent and inquisitive.  These traits have led it to gain a bit of a reputation as a vandal, as they tend to explore new materials and objects in there environment.  Unfortunately, this includes parked car where they seem to have bit of a fondness for the rubber seals around car doors and windscreens.  

The Kea is the worlds only Alpine parrot and the one in these pictures visited us as we were have a cup of coffee at Arthurs Pass in South Island.  This individual was very keen to have a look - and maybe a feed - inside my bag and camera case!  Given that it can't be all that easy to find food in the high mountains, this 'searching' behaviour of new and novel materials is certainly adaptive.  It's also rather entertaining!











As ever, click the blue button to join in with WBW!


29 comments:

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I love this post. Not least because I finally have an actual picture to put with a frequent crosswordese fill. Interesting bird it is too! Thanks as always for the great armchair travels and for hosting.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

WHAT A CUTIE

So human tolerant. He's been tagged a few times. You'd think that would teach him to stay away.

Missy George said...

Amazing looking bird..d probably due a bit of damage with that beak...Interesting story..thanks for sharing...

NatureFootstep said...

I think I saw one when I visited NZ many years ago. But I think it was some kind of center to try to save the species. Gret shots!

Frank Boxell said...

Super portraits of this inquisitive species.

P.S. Could not find the usual 'button' to link up!

Chris Rohrer said...

This is definitely one BIRD I want to see!!!! Awesome!

Findlay Wilde said...

What a fascinating bird to see. So sturdy and well designed for what does.

Pat Tillett said...

And a handsome bird he is! Very interesting information and great photos Stewart.

Andrea Priebe said...

My goodness, he looks like he was chiseled out of stone in a prehistoric style. Not that he is ugly, because he certainly isn't, but very strange and intriguing. So was he able to leave any telling scratches on your camera equipment. What a great conversation piece that would be, Ha! This is awesome, Stewart. You are still bringing to light birds I have never seen or heard of ... and it is greatly appreciated :)

Andrea @ From The Sol

Nora said...

Wow. I love the feathers on this bird. Thanks so much for the info and for hosting. Have a great week.

Brian King said...

Wow, talk about impressive! And prehistoric! Fantastic!

Florida Farm Girl said...

I watched a piece about New Zealand and its birds on Nat Geo a week or so ago.

Sharon Wagner said...

So unusual looking. I'm in Florida right now. Here, vultures like to feed on rubber car seals. Plus, my cat has an infinity for it too. Go figure.

Anu said...

Great photos. It is an very interesting bird and so amazing looking bird.

Les Fous du Cap said...

Nous adorons cet oiseau malicieux.
Très belle série et proximité avec l'oiseau ;-)
Céline & Philippe

Margaret Adamson said...

Wonderful to see this unusual bird in these close ups Stewart. I see it has rings on both legs. Thanking for hosting and hope your week is going well.

A Quiet Corner said...

Up close and personal with this one, Stewart! I do admire the feathers...shape and texture in the photos...and that beak!!!...:)JP

A Colorful World said...

Looks like a raptor mated with a parrot! :-) What a fascinating bird. Very neat that he is so inquisitive. You got some great photos! I loved reading your narrative too...had no idea there were no native New Zealand mammals except bats!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Stewart, what a cool looking parrot. The feather are pretty, great closeups. Thanks for hosting. Have a happy day and week ahead!

Lea said...

Beautiful bird! And it does look very intelligent.
Hope you have having a great week!

Dave Lewis said...

Hmmm...I drive a KIA...looks nothing like that.

Liz said...

That beak looks like it would do a fair bit of damage, especially to car seals! I had no idea that Keas were parrots. They even look a little prehistoric. A very interesting post, Stewart!

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

What an unusual creature! At Everglades National Park the Black Vultures have been removing the rubber weatherstripping around the windshields of auto parked in the lot. At the same park the crows pilfer the handbags and camera cases of guests who leave them on the open sight-seeing tram as they climb the observation tower.

Linda said...

Love the kea!

Lady Fi said...

Such a pretty bird.

Jutta.K said...

What a stunning animal.
And so tame, I would love him.
Wonderful pictures !
Greetings fro Germany


My contribution...

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

What a stunning bird - the feather pattern is amazing. Interesting info - thanks for sharing.

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

What a stunning bird.

David Gascoigne said...

I would dearly love to see this unique and fascinating species. Maybe one day I'll get to NZ.