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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Amaze-wing Facts About The Kea Parrot For Kids

Kea Parrot facts are educational

The kea parrot (Nestor notabilis) or the New Zealand mountain parrot is one of the smartest species of parrots that are indigenous to New Zealand. The kea is the only alpine parrot that exists in the world. Keas are normally seen in the high mountains of New Zealand's South Island and its alpine regions, which are the only place they can be found. Kea parrots play an important part in the tourism industry of New Zealand as many people come to the national park and conservation habitats to steal a glance of the kea and hopefully, get to play with them.

The plumage of the kea is olive green in color, with yellow/green nape and crown, with their chest and abdomen showing a brown tinge. Their lower back is orange to red in color which covers the underwing as well. The flight feather has a yellow tint to its undersides. The kea tail is bluish-green in color with a black tip. Due to their limited population, the kea is a protected species. Breeding of these alpine parrots is done in a controlled environment in order to keep their population on an upward trajectory. Keep reading for facts about the native New Zealand parrot. You may also like great green macaw facts and bowerbird facts.

Kea Parrot Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a kea parrot?

The kea is a parrot that is big in size and like all parrots has four toes on each foot, two of which point forward and two backward. This helps them in manipulating objects easily and moving around in the trees and on the ground.

What class of animal does a kea parrot belong to?

The kea parrot belongs to the Aves class of the Animalia Kingdom.

How many kea parrots are there in the world?

By 1986, the kea population was estimated to be around 1,000-5,000 which was low in contrast to the estimated 15,000 individuals in 1992. The kea's distribution across areas that are inaccessible prevents any accurate estimates and hence we can only make guesswork of their exact population. As of 2020, the population is estimated to be around 3,000-7,000 individuals.

Where does a kea parrot live?

Keas exist only in New Zealand's South Island and around the alpine areas. Their nests are found in the beech forests at sea level on the west coast of the South Island, along the mountainous forests of the southern alps. The habitats range from the far north of Kahurangi National Park to the southernmost Fiordlands and extending to the Kaikoura in the east.

What is a kea parrot's habitat?

The alpine ridges in the southernmost beech forests are where you'll find the kea parrot in its natural habitat. Lowland river valleys and coastal forests are also part of their habitat where they can prosper.

Kea parrots prefer to spend most of their time on the ground interacting with humans and entertaining them with their side-hopping movements. Keas like to get into a building by any means possible and will sometimes go down chimneys.

Who do kea parrots live with?

The kea (Nestor notabilis) are social birds and live in large groups consisting of about 13 other keas on average. They tend to stay in their nests with the parents taking care of the chicks by hunting for food. The male and female form pair bonds and hold territories.

How long does a kea parrot live?

The average lifespan of this New Zealand mountain parrot in the wild has not been properly recorded and hence it is difficult to put an estimate to their lifespan in the wild, with the closest estimate coming at five years for a sub-adult kea. Whereas, in captivity, keas can grow as old as 20 years old. The record for the oldest kea recorded in captivity grew 50 years old.

How do they reproduce?

Keas are polygamous meaning during the breeding seasons males mate with up to four females. The female builds a nest on the ground under large trees. Their nest consists of tunnels that lead to a larger chamber. The female kea reaches sexual maturity when they are around three years old, and the males at around four to five years old. Females lay three to four eggs in a clutch during the months of July and January in their nests after breeding, which are lined with moss and lichen. The incubation period for the eggs is 29 days with the hen leaving the nest twice a day to feed. During nightfall, they don't stray away from the nest and stay within range.

What is their conservation status?

Kea parrots are listed as an Endangered species by the IUCN Red List. These socially adept and intelligent birds are well adapted to the harsh environment surrounding them, but unfortunately, interactions with humans due to their curiosity and friendliness have only affected them negatively as conflict with humans and predators has caused the population to dwindle, with only a few thousand kea parrots alive to this day. They have also been listed as a Nationally Endangered species by the New Zealand government and are protected in national parks. Conservation efforts by national parks and zoos, with protected breeding and protection from predators, are helping in keeping their population at a stable number.

Kea Parrot Fun Facts

What do kea parrots look like?

The kea parrot is a large parrot from the Nestoridae family which is found mostly in the South Island of New Zealand.  

The kea's feathers are generally an olive-emerald hue with green edges with black and bright orange which are normally hidden on the underside of its wings. Their lower back is a shade of orange to red. Keas have a long, narrow, and curved beak that is gray-brown. Females can be easily distinguished from males due to their less sharp and shorter beaks.

New Zealand kea parrot facts are interesting.

How cute are they?

Keas are absolutely cute in all regards! They are social and curious and love to play around with humans. They are majestic to look at when they are in flight due to their vibrant wings in the full display which is appealing to a lot of people and only increases their cuteness factor.  

How do they communicate?

Keas communicate through their body language and a variety of visual, auditory, tactile, and chemical stimuli. They make a high-pitched 'kee-ah' sound which is often seen as a flight call, the sound also being the origin of their names. They also fluff their head feathers, using them as facial expressions and by various postures.

How big is a kea parrot?

The kea parrot can grow up to 19.7 in (50 cm) and on average grow up to 18.9 in (48 cm) in length.

How fast can a kea parrot fly?

Unfortunately, there is no recorded speed of how fast a kea parrot can fly.

How much does a kea parrot weigh?

Keas are one of the larger species of parrots and can weigh from 1.8-2.2 lb (0.8-1 kg), which is heavy for parrots.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to kea for males and females. In general, a male kea is called a cock, and a female is called a hen.

What would you call a baby kea parrot?

A baby or young kea parrot is called a chick. When the chicks are around one month old, the male assists in their feeding procedure alongside the female. Chicks stay in their nest for 10-13 weeks after which they will be ready to fly. Sadly, only less than 30% of kea chicks survive for more than a year.

What do they eat?

Keas are omnivores by nature and consume a vast variety of food in the wild. Their natural diet consists of insects like grasshoppers, beetles, weta, and cicada nymphs. The vegetarian part of their die comprises roots, leaves, flowers, soots, and seeds.

Keas are also known to eat other birds and mammals such as pigeons and sheep meat, possum carcasses. So when someone tells you they have seen a kea parrot eating sheep, then assume they are telling the truth!

Are they friendly?

These native birds of New Zealand are known to be extremely social and friendly birds. They try to amuse and entertain humans with their antics in the hope they will get food from them! Sadly this friendly behavior also causes them trouble as people see them as pests and try to harm them.

Would they make a good pet?

There has been no record of domestication of a kea. A parrot pet in the form of kea would not be good even if they were found in abundance as they are big in size and are probably in the top range of intelligent parrots.

Did you know...

A gathering of kea is known as a circus! They are often considered klutz due to their awkward and curious behavior which in turn led them to become known as the clown of the mountains.

The flightless Kakapo, another parrot indigenous to New Zealand and the surrounding island, is the closest relative of the kea.

The $10 note of New Zealand featured the kea on the reverse side between the years 1967 and 1992.

The kea makes a specific call that sounds like it is a kea parrot laughing. This call puts the others in a good mood, making the kea birds the first non-mammal that has shown contagious emotion, alongside humans and chimpanzees.

The beak of the female kea is smaller than the beak of the male, making it an easily distinguishable mark on their faces.

Their name comes from the sound 'keeee-ah' sound that they make.

Kea parrot intelligence is one of the most talked-about things when these intelligent birds are a part of the conversation.

Do kea parrots attack sheep?

Animal specialist J.R Jackson concluded in 1962 that the keas mistook injured sheep to be dead and hence attack or try to kill them for food. In 1992, video evidence of kea attacking healthy sheep was obtained, confirming the idea that keas use their powerful beaks and claws to attack and kill sheep. Though it does not kill the sheep directly, the injuries are the main cause of their death.

Is the kea parrot the smartest bird?

Keas have been documented using tools in an effort to get food and in creating a nest. They are intelligent creatures and have been trained to follow certain requests and demands in order to get treats. Keas are also curious and this curiosity leads them to steal items from houses and destroy things.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including secretary bird, or frigatebird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our kea parrot coloring pages.

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