Written By Kalpitaa Rajesh (Grade 11)
Kakapo, also known as Strigops habroptilus is the only Parrot that cannot fly. They’re the rarest and most unusual species of parrot. They’re native only to the forests of New Zealand. The most astonishing fact is that they are the world’s only flightless and nocturnal parrots. The word ‘Kakapo’ means ‘Night Parrot’. They are commonly referred to as ‘Owl Parrot’ as the shape of their head and beak resembles the face of an owl.
A kakapo is large and round in shape. They have short wings that help them in balancing. For as long as anyone can remember, the Kakapo had no predatory mammals. Life was undemanding with no predators, so they had absolutely no reason to fly. And this gradually led to a loss in their ability to fly which left them impotent.
Their number started decreasing enormously when people started settling on the islands of New Zealand along with their pets that ate these birds. Kakapo became easy targets for hunting by the natives and mammalian predators.
Some Amazing Facts about Kakapos:
- They smell nice. The kakapo has a completely developed sense of smell, advantageous in its nocturnal lifestyle. It also has what’s called a fragrant odour. This possibly helps kakapos spot each other in the forest; woefully, it helps other beastly predators find them too.
- Kakapos are hefty birds. Contrasting with land birds, the kakapo can store substantial amounts of energy as body fat. It’s the world’s heaviest parrot: at about 24 inches tall, it weighs between 4 and 9 lbs.
- They’re friendly. Even wild kakapos are known to approach, climb on, and groom people. George Edward Grey, the English ornithologist who first described the kakapo, once wrote that kakapo’s etiquette towards him and his friends was “more like that of a dog than a bird.”
- The herbivorous characteristic of the Kakapo allows it to fill the predominant ecological niche of administering vegetation solidity and seed dispersal.
- The Kakapo is secured under the New Zealand Wildlife Act of 1953, as well as the establishment of the Kakapo Recovery Program superintended by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Since the 1990s, the department has played a vital role in the auxiliary feeding, preservation, and proliferation of this species.
- When they are in danger they become still and motionless. Their green-coloured feathers act as camouflage. They are largely hunted for their meat and feather.
Till date, there are sporadic Kakapos left in the world, and each one of them is named.
Featured Image Courtesy – WIRED