An extraordinary and unique bird that is the only flightless and nocturnal parrot in the world – as well as the heaviest!
Amazing Facts About the Kakapo
- Kakapo are the world’s only flightless parrot. They have very strong legs, making the birds excellent climbers and hikers. They are also the world’s heaviest parrot
- Kakapo have very short wings, which they use for support and balance, and for parachuting to the floor from trees. The feathers of a kakapo are softer than other parrots as they do not need to be strong for flying
- Kakapos are said to smell nice! It is thought their sweet-musky odour helps the birds to find each other
- These parrots are nocturnal, meaning they roost during the day in trees or on the ground and are active at night
- The kakapo’s defence mechanism is to freeze and hope to blend into the background. This tactic doesn’t work with mammals which hunt with smell rather than sight
- The parrots are said to be very friendly even in the wild. There passive nature however made them easy game for Maori and European settlers
- The kakapo were relocated from 1980-1977 to two islands off New Zealand’s South Island which are free from mammal predators. This has allowed the species to survive; they would otherwise be extinct
- In 2012, there were only 125 known kakapos left in the wild
- Kakapos are now critically endangered. Before the arrival of people to New Zealand, the kakapos’ only predators were eagles. When people introduced mammals such as rats, stoats and cats to New Zealand, kakapo were hunted to near extinction
- The kakapo is a unique parrot. It uses a ‘Lek mating system’ where the male will pick a prominent spot and compete with other males to attract females
- Males compete by making low-frequency ‘booms’ to alert females to their presence. These booms can travel up to 3 miles! After 20-30 booms, the males switch to a high-pitched ‘ching’. This sequence of calls can go on for 8 hours a night for the duration of mating season: 2-4 months!
- Kakapos do not breed every year. The frequency of breeding is thought to be linked to the fruiting of the rumi tree, which occurs every 2-4 years!
- Type: Bird
- Diet: Herbivore
- Life span: Average 58 years
- Size: 59-64cm (length)
- Weight: 1-4 kg
- Habitat: Naturally vegetated areas, away from mammal predators
- Range: New Zealand
- Scientific name: Strigops Habroptilus