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Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Nestor
Species: N. notabilis
Binomial name
Nestor notabilis
Gould, 1856

The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is a highly unusual species of parrot found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. The Kea is one of the few recorded alpine parrots in the world, and includes carrion in a diet consisting mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar and insects. Now uncommon, the Kea was once killed for bounty as it preyed on livestock, especially sheep, only receiving full protection in 1986.[1] Picture of kea taken by me File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that species continuing to survive either in the present day or the future. ... Image File history File links Status_iucn3. ... This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. ... Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. ... Animalia redirects here. ... Typical Classes See below Chordates (phylum Chordata) are a group of animals that includes the vertebrates, together with several closely related invertebrates. ... “Aves” redirects here. ... Families Cacatuidae Psittacidae The order Psittaciformes (Parrots) includes about 353 species of bird which are generally grouped into two families: the Cacatuidae or cockatoos, and the Psittacidae or true parrots. ... Subfamily The true parrots are about 330 species of bird belonging to the Psittacidae, one of the two families in the biological order Psittaciformes. ... Species Nestor is a genus of New Zealand parrots, apparently the single genus of the Nestorinae subfamily. ... In biology, binomial nomenclature is the formal method of naming species. ... John Gould John Gould (14 September 1804 – 3 February 1881) was an English ornithologist. ... 1856 was a leap year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... It has been suggested that True parrots be merged into this article or section. ...



Kea have red feathers under the wings
Kea have red feathers under the wings

Kea are omnivorous crow-sized birds, 46 cm length and weighing around 700-1000g. They have olive green plumage with dark-edged feathers, and a blue-green tail. The underwings are scarlet with yellow stripes, while the legs are grey. The ceres, bill and eyes are dark grey. Juvenile birds (age 0-3) have yellow ceres, eye-rings and beak parts. Fledglings also have a lighter-coloured crown.[2] They are thought to live to an age of 50 years but there is no published data on maximum age. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... A cere is a fleshy, often waxy area above a birds beak. ...

The main call is a loud Kee-ah, mainly voiced in flight. It has some other softer calls.[3]


The genus Nestor contains three species: The Kākā (Nestor meridionalis), the Kea (N. notabilis), and the extinct Norfolk Island Kākā (N. productus). All three are thought to stem from a 'proto-Kākā', dwelling in the forests of New Zealand 15 million years ago.[4] The closest relative is most likely the Kākāpō (Strigops habroptilus).[5] Binomial name Nestor meridionalis (Gmelin, 1788) The Kākā, Nestor meridionalis, is a parrot native to the forests of New Zealand. ... Binomial name Nestor productus (Gould, 1836) The Norfolk Island Kākā (Nestor productus) was a large parrot with a prominent beak. ... Binomial name Strigops habroptilus Gray, 1845 The Kakapo (Māori: kākāpō, meaning night parrot), Strigops habroptilus (from the Greek strix, genitive strigos: owl and ops: face; and habros: soft, and ptilon: feather), also called owl parrot, is a species of nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. ...

A 2005 sex chromosome spindlin DNA sequence study suggests that the Nestor species, and the Kākāpō in its own genus, comprise an ancient group that split off from all other Psittacidae before their radiation,[6] but fossil evidence seems to contradict this[citation needed]; given the violent geological history of New Zealand (see, for example, Taupo Volcanic Zone), other explanations such as episodes of genetic drift seem better supported by evidence. The ZW sex-determination system is a system that birds, some fishes, and some insects (including butterflies and moths) use to determine the sex of their offspring. ... part of a DNA sequence A DNA sequence (sometimes genetic sequence) is a succession of letters representing the primary structure of a real or hypothetical DNA molecule or strand, The possible letters are A, C, G, and T, representing the four nucleotide subunits of a DNA strand (adenine, cytosine, guanine... For the runtime engine for Perl 6, see Parrot virtual machine. ... FOSSIL is a standard for allowing serial communication for telecommunications programs under DOS. FOSSIL is an acronym for Fido Opus Seadog Standard Interface Layer. ... Thermally active area - Craters of the Moon, North Island, New Zealand. ... In population genetics, genetic drift is the statistical effect that results from the influence that chance has on the success of alleles (variants of a gene). ...

Distribution and habitat

The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is one of only seven parrot species endemic to New Zealand. The other mainland species are the Kākā (Nestor meridionalis), the Kākāpō (Strigops habroptilus), and three species of Kākāriki:the Yellow crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps), Red crowned parakeet( Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) and Orange crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi). The last parrot species endemic to New Zealand is the Antipodes Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor)), found only on those subantarctic islands after which it is named. It has been suggested that True parrots be merged into this article or section. ... Binomial name Nestor meridionalis (Gmelin, 1788) The Kākā, Nestor meridionalis, is a parrot native to the forests of New Zealand. ... Binomial name Strigops habroptilus Gray, 1845 The Kakapo (Māori: kākāpō, meaning night parrot), Strigops habroptilus (from the Greek strix, genitive strigos: owl and ops: face; and habros: soft, and ptilon: feather), also called owl parrot, is a species of nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. ... Binomial name Cyanoramphus auriceps (Kuhl, 1820) Cyanoramphus malherbi Souancé, 1857 Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (Sparrman, 1787) The three species of Kākāriki or New Zealand parakeets are the most common species of parakeet in the genus Cyanoramphus, family Psittacidae. ... Binomial name Cyanoramphus unicolor (Lear, 1831) The Antipodes Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor) is endemic to the Antipodes Islands. ...

The Kea is known for its sometimes destructive curiosity.
The Kea is known for its sometimes destructive curiosity.

The Kea ranges from lowland river valleys up to the alpine regions of the South Island such as Arthur's Pass and Mt. Cook National Park. The breeding areas are most commonly in Southern Beech (Nothofagus sp.) forests, located on steep mountain sides. Breeding at heights of 1600m above sea level and higher, they are one of the few parrot species in the world to regularly spend time above treeline. Their notorious urge to explore and manipulate, combined with strong neophilia, makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called "clowns of the mountains", they will investigate backpacks, boots or even cars that happen to catch their attention (and often damage them or carry off smaller items). Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 532 pixelsFull resolution (2048 × 1362 pixel, file size: 303 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) (All user names refer to en. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 532 pixelsFull resolution (2048 × 1362 pixel, file size: 303 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) (All user names refer to en. ... Alpine may refer to: Alpine, a breed of goat. ... The South Island The South Island is one of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the North Island. ... Arthurs Pass Arthurs Pass is an alpine crossing of the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand. ... Mount Cook or Mount Aoraki, named after Captain James Cook, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. ... Species   Nothofagus alpina - Rauli Beech   Nothofagus antarctica - Antarctic Beech   Nothofagus betuloides - Magallanes Beech   Nothofagus cunninghamii - Myrtle Beech   Nothofagus dombeyi - Coigüe Beech   Nothofagus fusca - Red Beech   Nothofagus gunnii - Tanglefoot Beech   Nothofagus menziesii - Silver Beech   Nothofagus moorei - Negrohead Beech   Nothofagus obliqua - Roble Beech   Nothofagus pumilio - Lenga Beech   Nothofagus solanderi - Black Beech... In this view of an alpine tree-line, the distant line looks particularly sharp. ... Neophilia is defined as a love of novelty and new things. ...

Population estimates range from 1,000 to 5,000 individuals,[7] but their widespread distribution at low density hinders accurate estimates.[8][9] Together with local councils and runholders, the New Zealand government paid a bounty for Kea bills because Kea preyed upon lifestock, mainly sheep.[10][11] Hunters were meant to kill Kea only on the farms and council areas paying the bounty, but some hunted them in national parks and in Westland, where they were officially protected. More than 150,000 were killed in the hundred years before 1970, when the bounty was lifted.[12] In the 1970s the Kea received partial protection after a census counted only 5000 birds. They were not fully protected until 1986, when farmers gave up their legal right to shoot any Kea that tampered with property or livestock. In exchange, the government agreed to investigate any reports of problem birds and have them removed from the land.[8]


At least one observer has noted the Kea to be polygamous, with one male seemingly attached to multiple females and that there were a surplus of females.[13] According to The Most Extreme, the kea's behavior is somewhat similar to the lion's, having lower ranked individuals kill the prey and the dominant male snatches the food for itself. The Most Extreme is a long-running documentary TV series on the American cable television network, Animal Planet. ...


Kea range along the whole South Island of New Zealand, yet they are closely bound to the southern beech (Nothofagus) forests in the alpine ridge. In one study, nest sites occur at a density of 1 per 4.4km².[9] Nest sites are usually positioned on the ground underneath large beech trees, in rock crevices or dug burrows between roots. They are accessed by tunnels leading back 1m to 6m into a larger chamber, which is furnished with lichens, moss, ferns and rotting wood. The laying period starts in January and reaches into July.[14] 2-4 white eggs are laid, with an incubation time around 21 days.[3] Species Nothofagus alpina - Rauli Beech Nothofagus antarctica - Antarctic Beech Nothofagus betuloides - Magellanes Beech Nothofagus cunninghamii - Myrtle Beech Nothofagus dombeyi - Coigüe Beech Nothofagus fusca - Red Beech Nothofagus gunnii - Tanglefoot Beech Nothofagus menziesii - Silver Beech Nothofagus moorei - Negrohead Beech Nothofagus obliqua - Roble Beech Nothofagus pumilio - Lenga Beech Nothofagus solanderi - Black Beech...

Download high resolution version (600x668, 79 KB) Kea at Bristol Zoo, Bristol, England. ... Download high resolution version (600x668, 79 KB) Kea at Bristol Zoo, Bristol, England. ... Bristol Zoo is a major UK tourist attraction in the city of Bristol in Southwest England. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area...


As omnivores, Kea are known to feed on more than 40 plant species (Tab. 1), beetle larva, other birds (including shearwater chicks) and mammals (including sheep and rabbits).[15][16] Kea have also taken advantage of human garbage and "gifts" of food.[17] In captivity, these birds are very fond of butter, all forms of nuts, apples, carrots, grapes, mangos, figs, bread, dairy products, ground meat and even pasta.[citation needed]

There had been a long-running controversy about whether Kea prey on sheep, with the earliest reports appearing in 1867. An article by naturalist G.R. Marriner in 1906, describing substantial anecdotal evidence of these attacks, became the accepted view of the birds´ habits.[10] Several prominent members of the scientific community concluded that the rumours were true, although some were not convinced. However, in 1962 animal specialist J.R. Jackson concluded they may attack sick or injured sheep, especially if they mistook them as dead, but that they were not a significant predator.[18] Finally, in 1993, their nocturnal assaults were captured on video,[16], proving that at least some Kea will attack and feed off of healthy sheep. The video explained exactly what many scientists have thought for years, showing the Kea using its powerful curved beak and claws to rip through the layer of wool and eat off of the fat that surrounds the back of the animal. Though the Kea does not directly kill its large prey, mortality can occur from blood poisoning or accidents suffered by sheep trying to escape the torment.

Tab. 1: List of plants Kea have been observed consuming:[15]

Food type Scientific name
Fruits: Astelia nervosa
Coprosma pseudopunctata
Coprosma pumila
Coprosma serrulata
Cyathodes colensoi
Cyathodes fraseri
Caultheria depressa
Muehlenbeckia axillaris
Pentachondra pumila
Podocarpus nivalis
Seeds Aciphylla colensoi
Aciphylla ferox
Aciphylla monroi
Astelia nervosa
Hebe ciliolata
Pimelea oreophila
Pittosporum anomalu
Plantago raoulia
Roots Anisotome pilifera
Celmisia coriacea
Gingidium montanum
Notothlaspi australe
Ranunculus insignis
Leaves and buds Euphrasia zelandica
Gentiana bellidifolia
Gentiana spenceri
Gnaphalium traversii
Hebe pauciramosa
Hebe vernicosa
Lagenophora petiolata
Nothofagus solandri var cliff.
Flowers Celimisia coriacea
Celimisia discolor var ampla
Celimisia spectabilis var ang.
Cotula pyrethrifolia
Gentiana bellidifolia
Gentiana patula
Gentiana spenceri
Haastia pulvinaris
Luzula campestris
Entire plant Anisotome aromatica var arom.
Ourisia sessilifolia
Ourisia caespitosa
Ourisia macrophylla
Ranunculus insignis


  1. ^ Lindsey, T., Morris, R. (2000) Field Guide To New Zealand Wildlife. Auckland: Harper Collins. (ISBN 1-86950-300-7)
  2. ^ Robertson, H., Heather, B. (2001) The hand guide to the birds of New Zealand. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (ISBN 0-19-850831-X)
  3. ^ a b Falla RA, Sibson RB & Turbot EG (1966) A Field guide to the birds of New Zealand. Collins, London (ISBN 0-00-212022-4)
  4. ^ Fleming, C.A. (1975) The geological history of New Zealand and its biota. In G. Kuschel (Ed.): Biogeography and ecology in New Zealand. The Hague: Dr. W. Junk
  5. ^ Juniper, T., Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: A guide to parrots of the world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (ISBN 0-300-07453-0)
  6. ^ de Kloet, R.S.; de Kloet, S.R. (2005). The evolution of the spindlin gene in birds: sequence analysis of an intron of the spindlin W and Z gene reveals four major divisions of the Psittaciformes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36: 706–721.
  7. ^ Anderson, R. (1986) Keas for keeps. Forest and Bird, 17, 2-5
  8. ^ a b Diamond, J., Bond, A. (1999) Kea. Bird of paradox. The evolution and behavior of a New Zealand Parrot. Berkeley; Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. (ISBN 0-520-21339-4)
  9. ^ a b Elliott, G., Kemp, J. (1999) Conservation ecology of Kea (Nestor notabilis). Report. WWF New Zealand.
  10. ^ a b Marriner, G. R. (1906) Notes on the Natural History of the Kea, with Special Reference to its Reputed Sheep-killing Propensities. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39, 271-305.
  11. ^ Marriner, G. R. (1907) Additional Notes on the Kea. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 40, 534-537 and Plates XXXII-XXXIV.
  12. ^ Temple, P. (1996) The Book of the Kea. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett. (ISBN 0-340-600039)
  13. ^ Jackson JR (1962). The life of the Kea. Canterbury Mountaineer 31 120-123
  14. ^ Jackson JR (1960). Keas at Arthur's Pass. Notornis 9 39-58
  15. ^ a b Clark, C.M.H. (1970) Observations on population, movements and food of the kea, Nestor notabilis. Notornis, 17, 105-114
  16. ^ a b Kea - Mountain Parrot, NHNZ. (1 hour documentary)
  17. ^ Gajdon, G.K., Fijn, N., Huber, L.(2006) Limited spread of innovation in a wild parrot, the kea (Nestor notabilis). Animal Cognition, 9, 173-181.
  18. ^ Jackson JR (1962) Do Kea attack sheep? Notornis 10 33-38
  • BirdLife International (2006). Nestor notabilis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is vulnerable

There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List and Red Data List), created in 1963, is the worlds most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species and can be found here. ... The World Conservation Union or International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. ...

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Nestor notabilis
  • Department of Conservation Kea page
  • ARKive - images and movies of the Kea (Nestor notabilis)
  • Kea research at the University of Vienna [1]

  Results from FactBites:
Kea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (565 words)
The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is a semi-nocturnal parrot native to the alpine mountains of New Zealand.
Keas typically nest in crevices under rocks, in the roots of trees, or hollow logs.
Keas lay clutches of two to four eggs per season and these are incubated by the female for around twenty-nine days.
Mauna Kea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (386 words)
Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five volcanic peaks that together form the Island of Hawaii.
In Hawaiian, mauna kea means "white mountain", a reference to the fact that it is regularly snow or frost capped during the northern hemisphere winter.
Mauna Kea is also the tallest mountain in the world when measured from base to peak, its base being some 16,000 feet (over 5,000 m) under the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
  More results at FactBites »



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