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Thursday, October 1, 2009
Strange Parrot Indeed

By Laura Doering
Join in on Laura's fun and experiences of bird ownership, and share in her adventures as the editor of BIRD TALK, the world’s most widely read pet bird magazine, in Wayward Feathers

If there’s one parrot that absolutely fascinates me, it’s one I’ll probably never get to meet — the kakapo. Not only is the kakapo the world’s heaviest parrot — weighing up to 8 pounds! — the only non-flighted parrot and the only nocturnal parrot (although some bird owners might respectively argue that their parrot is indeed nocturnal), it is also the one of the most endangered birds in the world.

I’m still scratching my head as to how the kakapo is classified as a parrot. Its beak might be hooked but it reminds me of an owl’s beak more than a parrot’s. And from the video footage I’ve seen, the kakapo looks at things dead on instead of a parrot’s one-eye stare. Another thing that sets them apart is that they don’t flock together; instead living alone.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this unique New Zealand parrot, one thing that will endear you to it is the way the male woos the female. During summer nights, the male leaves his roost, treks up a hill top (up to four miles away!) and lets out a loud “boom” call to attract a female. If there is no taker, he makes the long, lonely trip home and tries again the next night.

I’ve always thought the kakapo was a painfully shy parrot, but apparently it knows when to seize the moment when the opportunity presents itself. Check out this video (thanks for the forward Chris Davis, BIRD TALK’s “Heart To Heart” columnist.) Keep in mind that this bird weighs in at 8 pounds, ouch!


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I'm a New Zealander. (We call ourselves kiwis). I have had the opportunity to meet Kakapo and by golly if you saw them in person their attitude fits the word parrot to a t. They are one of our more shy birds (the kea being a little over zealous-kinda like a lorikeet) and a lot of our birds have piked up weird attributes such as not being able to fly, being heavier than most birds and this is because before people inhabited New Zealand we actually had no predatory mammals (there were predatory birds most notably Haasts Eagle) and they evolved to not need to fly because of no predatory ground animals (all possums and feral cats and things were introduced). I intend to study at university and work with these animals in breeding, educational and research programs. As a New Zealander I feel our native species aren't appreciated enough and if I can help just one more person appreciate them or be aware of how fragile New Zealand species and their environment are I feel I would have acheived great success.
Casey, New Zealand
Posted: 11/21/2009 7:04:29 PM
Laura, your blogs always make me smile. I thought flying monkeys only existed in "The Wizard of Oz". What an amazing video!
David, Buffalo Grove, IL
Posted: 10/1/2009 6:29:02 PM
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