Researchers around the world are doing some great fun experiments that kea—the world’s only true alpine parrots—really enjoy doing. Check out how clever these beautiful birds are for yourselves.
Did you know alpine parrots were even a thing? Well they are, and they’re fascinating!
The kea (Nestor notabilis), is a native New Zealand bird also known as the New Zealand mountain parrot — the only true alpine parrot in the world — and they are currently an endangered species.
The kea is a large parrot with mainly olive-green feathers, deepening to a teal blue on the wingtips. On the underside of the wings and the base of the tail the features are a reddish-orange. Female kea are slightly smaller than males and have shorter beaks.
Wild Kea live only in the South Island of New Zealand, most commonly in or near alpine areas, although they can sometimes be found in coastal regions. They are often seen at South Island ski-fields and mountain huts.
They usually nest in native forest, laying their eggs on the ground or in crevices, but will travel to look for food. Kea mate for life and the male will look after the female and his new babies by bringing food back to the nest.
Kea are omnivorous and eat a wide range of plant and animal food, including;
- Tree and plant material like leaves, nectar, fruit, roots and seeds
- Bugs and larvae that they dig out of the ground or rotten logs
- Other animals, including baby birds of other species like shearwaters, or scavenge deer and sheep carcasses
Kea are incredibly intelligent birds. They learn impressive foraging skills from their parents and other older birds, and become very skilled with their beaks and claws. As their environment has changed, kea have learned to adapt. Hunters, farmers and hikers all have stories of watching kea learn to get into doors and windows or undo their packs to steal food! They’re also notorious for attacking cars if they get the chance – yanking on aerials and pecking at the rubber around car doors.
Kea are famously curious and love to experience new things and solve puzzles. A recent study about Kea intelligence showed how these clever birds can work in teams to achieve their goals. (Video below)
Young kea hang out in gangs until they start mating. They are also very playful – you can watch them playing with each other, and even playing practical jokes on humans. These fun-loving birds will swoop down to steal people’s belongings, or throw stones at them! Scroll down for photos, video and 8 fascinating facts about these amazing, intelligent birds.
Check out video footage of these highly intelligent birds problem-solving and playing
We rarely put two videos in one article, but in this case we simply had to. In the first video, researchers hid a camera in a fake snowball in order to get close to the Kea while they play and investigate. In the second video we see just how cheeky and intelligent they are, as they solve problems and dismantle anything that isn’t bolted down (actually, they can undo bolts).