The Ancient Kakapo Parrot

Kakapo parrot_gyanpro

The Kakapo also known as Strigops habroptila in biological terms is one of the oldest living bird. Kakapo is a heavy weighted flightless parrot native to New Zealand. Its Latin name means “Owl faced soft features”. It has very less features and also has a wide face like an owl. They are nocturnal unlike any other parrot species. May be that us why it is compared to owl? This is now critically endangered with very few of these currently surviving.

Anatomy

A Kakapo adult can measure about 55 to 65 cm and can weight from 2 to 5kg on an average. They have a green coloured feature with yellow and brown mottles. They have very less feature. Its colour helps it to camouflage with the surroundings of forest during the night. Their heavy weight may be the reason for its flight disabilities.  It has a distinct disc like face, large grey beak, short tail and large feet. It is world’s heaviest and flightless nocturnal parrot.

Habitat

They are predominantly found in main islands of New Zealand. Ironically they are now found only in Chalky Island and Cod Fish Island. Initially they were inhabited in grasslands and forests but now they are highly restricted only to woodlands.

Diet

Kakapo is an herbivore eating plants, fruits, nuts available in their habitat. Their specially featured beak enables it to easily grind the food.

Reproduction

Male Kakapo makes a distinct sound which can be heard for about 5km just to attract female Kakapo for mating. There is competition between groups of male Kakapo for attracting their mates. They have lek mating system which is uniquely present only in Kakapo. December to April is the usual mating period. And they should be atleast 1.5 kg for mating. The maturity is attained only during nine to ten years of age. The mating happens every two to five years. The female Kakapo reproduces around two to three eggs every time. And the eggs are hatched after 30 days.

Threat

These parrots were hunted by human beings for its flesh. The dogs and rats living in that islands relied on them as their feed. There was large clearing of forest for the sake of urbanisation which had a direct effect on these birds. Their very slow breeding abilities is also one of the reason for its endangerment.

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Interesting facts about Kakapo parrot

  • It is the world’s heavy and flightless parrot.
  • They have strong legs. Even though they can’t fly they make around by their legs.
  • They are nocturnal
  • They are one of the oldest living bird
  • They are sturdy

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