The Unique Parrots Of New Zealand

The New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis).
The New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis).

9. Reischek’s Parakeet

A small green parrot, the Reischek’s parakeet (Cyanoramphus hochstetteri) is endemic to the Antipodes Island of New Zealand. It has a range of only 21 square km. The bird is quite similar in appearance to the red-crowned parakeet. It feeds on leaves, seeds, berries, tussock flowers, and invertebrates. The Reischek’s parakeet is labeled as "range restricted" according to the New Zealand Threatened Species classification. The population of the parakeet is regarded to be “healthy” in nature.

8. Antipodes Parakeet

The Antipodes Island parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor) is endemic to New Zealand’s Antipodes Island. It is one of the five parrots in the world known to live on the ground. The introduction of mice on the island due to human activities is a threat to the survival of these birds. Although antipodes parakeets often attack and prey on other birds, leaves, grass, and tussock stalks form the bulk of their diet. They are described as territorial, inquisitive, and mischievous by nature. The Antipodes Island parakeet is classified as "vulnerable" despite having stable populations on the island, as their range is very limited.

7. Chatham Parakeet

The Chatham parakeet (Cyanoramphus forbesi), is endemic to the Chatham Islands group of New Zealand. Classified as "vulnerable", the bird is one of the rarest found in the country and is threatened by habitat loss, hybridization, and predation. Within its range, the Chatham parakeet is found in the dense forest and scrub habitat and lives in rock crevices and tree hollows. These parakeets are medium-sized and have bright green plumage, a yellow forecrown, long tails, and orange-red eyes. The birds feed on flowers, seeds, shoots, bark, and fruit.

6. Malherbe’s Parakeet

The Malherbe's parakeet, also known as the orange-fronted parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi) is an endemic bird of New Zealand that inhabits four offshore islands and a few valleys in the South Island. The bird is medium-sized at about 20 cm long, and has a bright blue-green plumage with azure blue colored primary coverts. The birds usually feed on the beech tree canopy where they consume beech flowers, seeds, buds, and invertebrates living in the canopy. Introduced predators, hunting, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation has drastically decreased the numbers of the Malherbe's parakeet. Although the birds are currently protected by law, the problem of habitat fragmentation of these birds continues to exist.

5. Red-crowned Parakeet -

The red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) is a small parrot species with bright green plumage and a red pattern on its head. The parrot can inhabit a wide variety of habitats and also has flexible diet patterns. However, despite its adaptability, the introduction of predatory species has significantly reduced populations of this species so that it is classified as near threatened by the IUCN.

4. Yellow-crowned Parakeet

The yellow-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps) is an endemic bird of New Zealand that lives in the North, South and Stewart Island of the country. Populations of this bird can also be found in the Auckland Islands. The yellow-crowned parakeets are primarily bright green in color, are 23 cm long, and sport a red band in front of their golden crown. The bill is gray while the eyes are bright red or orange. When spread out, the wings appear to be bluish purple. The parakeets prefer to live in the upper canopies of the forests but are also found on subantarctic islands and around high-altitude tussock meadows. The yellow-crowned parakeets feed on fruits, flowers, seeds, shoots, and invertebrates. Introduced species like stoats, cats, and dogs threaten the survival of these birds.

3. Kakapo

The kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) is a flightless and nocturnal parrot that is endemic to New Zealand. The bird has a finely blotched yellow-green colored plumage, a big gray beak, and large wings and feet. The kakapo is also the heaviest parrot in the world and is herbivorous in nature. Males of this species do not exhibit parental care. Another unique feature of the bird is that it exhibits a polygynous lek system of breeding. The kakapo is currently classified as critically endangered. The bird was hunted for centuries by the indigenous Maoris of New Zealand for meat and fur. However, the worst fate met these birds when the Europeans introduced cats, dogs, mice and other predatory species on the islands. The flightless birds had nowhere to run and were extremely vulnerable to attacks by these introduced species. Currently, the few surviving kakapos have been transferred to the relatively predator-free islands in the country and are closely monitored by experts.

2. Kea

The kea (Nestor notabilis), the world’s only alpine parrot, is a big parrot species that lives in the alpine and forested habitat of New Zealand’s South Island. The bird is about 48 cm long and has an olive-green plumage with brilliant orange under the wings. It is omnivorous in nature and feeds on insects, roots, berries, nectar, and occasionally carrion. Keas are known for their intelligence and curiosity and have been observed to work in groups to complete a task. The birds are classified as "vulnerable" by the IUCN. Keas were earlier hunted indiscriminately since they were regarded as pests that harmed the livestock of farmers. By the 1970s, only about 5,000 of these birds existed. Hunting continues to threaten the bird despite its protected status. Exposure to toxins such as lead and pesticides also makes the kea vulnerable to death and disease.

1. New Zealand Kaka

The New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis) is a large parrot species belonging to the Strigopidae family. The bird is medium-sized with a length of about 45 cm and a weight of around 390 to 560 g. The bird is darker and more arboreal than the kea to which it is closely related. The New Zealand kaka inhabits the mid-altitude and lowland native forests in parts of the country. They can be observed in the mid-to-high canopy levels of the forest. Small but significant populations of these endangered birds are found in the Codfish, Little Barrier, and Kapiti islands. The birds are also breeding fast in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary on the mainland island. The gregarious birds often fly in large flocks above forests and across valleys. The New Zealand kākā feeds on flowers, seeds, nectar, and buds. Habitat loss and predation are the main threats to this species.


More in Environment