This post marks the end of this season of top animals, so I’m ending things with my favourite bird, the kea.
Image By: Barni1
Kea are a type of parrot, but not one of the colourful tropical rainforest parrots you might be familiar with, these parrots live in the mountains. They do have a bit of colour. If you get to see them flying, you’ll see lovely bright oranges feathers under their wings.
Image By: pxhere
Like many parrot species, kea are real characters. They’re really smart and really curious. They’ll explore things, they’ll use tools, they’ll work together to achieve goals. They’re remarkable problem solvers. Scientists like to present them with puzzles and kea seem to solve things through intuition over trial and error, which is pretty unique in the animal world. Their mischievous curiosity paired with their smarts often leads them to destroy, damage or dismantle a lot of human objects in areas where kea and humans coexist. They’ll raid rubbish bins, vandalise vehicles and break into backpacks. They’re definitely an animal you want to experience from a distance.
Image By: Bernard Spragg
Kea are endemic to New Zealand, living in the mountainous regions of the South Island. The areas where they live are pretty rough and often see snowfall. So kea must be pretty good at finding food. They’re omnivores, so they’re eating berries and other edible plant stuffs, bugs and even other animals. Kea preying on lambs is a point of contention between them and farmers.
Image By: pxhere
Unfortunately, kea are endangered. When it comes to vulnerable bird species, a lot of people are worried about kiwi and hardly give kea any thought at all, but there are fewer kea than there are kiwi. I think because kea are so friendly and curious, they come into contact with humans more often than they should. For an endangered species, they’re certainly not as elusive as you’d expect. Maybe that’s why people don’t often acknowledge how at-risk these birds are.
Because kea are troublemakers by nature, they often find themselves at odds with humans they live by. Last century there used to be a government offered bounty on kea. People would go out, shoot them for sport and profit from it. That was really bad for the kea population and people realised way too late. Over a hundred thousand bounties were collected before it was stopped leaving less than ten thousand kea remaining.
They have since been protected by law, but they still face some danger from those that simply don’t care about that kind of thing. I think a big problem is that they’re too confident around humans. They hang around areas, like carparks and high traffic tourist areas, which are rife with dangers. They also aren’t afraid to get up close to people. When there are humans that think it’s alright to kill animals that inconvenience them, I think kea would be safer if they stopped coming so close.
Image By: Geof Wilson
Kea are a top animal and my favourite bird because they’re so playful, curious and smart. There are few animals out there that explore the world around them so fully and work through problems so effectively.
What do you think about it? Do you find trouble making birds endearing, or do you sympathise with the people who have to deal with their antics? Know any cool kea facts? Leave a comment below.
Once again, this is pretty brief. There’s so much more you could learn about them. Here are some other sites you could look at to learn a bit more.