The Kea bird sometime referred to as "the clown of the mountains" because of its ability to amuse people. I say amuse but some of the local people often refer to it as an irritation specially if they are chewing on the aerial of your car or stealing items from your backpack and flying away with them. Regardless the Kea is one of the few remaining birds' indigenous to New Zealand.
|Photo by Markus Koljonen (Dilaudid) - Wikipedia|
The Kea is in fact a parrot, a very large parrot. They are approximately 20 inches long and weigh in at about 2 lbs. They are mostly olive green in color with beautiful orange feathers on the underside of their wings. These orange feathers can be seen when the Kea is in flight. The feathers on the lower back are orange/red while some of the outer wing feathers are blue.
The Kea have strong grey beaks with the longer upper beak being slightly curved. They use this beak to feed on the several kinds of plants available in the mountainous region of the South Island. They also eat other birds, sheep and rabbits. They have also developed a taste for people food. They seem to enjoy pasta, apples, grapes, bread, nuts and even some dairy products.
The Kea bird breeds in the underbrush of the trees known as southern beeches. These clusters of shrubs and trees grow high on the mountain sides more than 1500 m above sea level. The nests are usually on the ground in between tree roots and rock crevices. The Kea gets to the nest by going through a tunnel to the larger nesting area. They cover their nests with moss, ferns and rotting wood.
The female Kea which is a bit smaller than the male will lay anywhere from 2 to 5 eggs. The eggs take about 21 days to hatch and the chick stay under mothers care for about three months. The young adolescent Kea resembles the adults but can be distinguished by the yellow ring around their eyes as well as the yellow across the top of the beak. They also have some yellow on their legs.
As visitors to New Zealand you will quickly decide if the Kea are an amusement or an irritation especially if they climb on your car and bite off loose pieces of rubber etc. or let out one of their outrageously loud squawks as they peer through your hotel window. Despite their antics the Kea is thought to be one of the most intelligent birds in the world.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Kea. I look forward to sharing more unique and interesting facts about New Zealand their birds and other wildlife.