Ahh he would probably be the first near hitchhiking bird I have ever seen. Certainly the first among any mountain parrots that I know of. He decided to really get a bit friendly with us on our way to Milford Sound. He was hopping around the car as we went to stare at the waterfall before us, and even tried to jump in at one point when we opened the door to get back inside. Maybe he just wanted some company or a dry place out of the rain.
What are Kea Birds?
Coming from the states. I had not heard of a Kea, prior to visiting New Zealand. They are large parrots found only in the alpine areas of the South Island of New Zealand. There are actually only several thousand of them left in the wild.
They are also incredible intelligent, resourceful, and super curious. They also have a tendency to try to rip random things off your cars. So be Careful!
This Kea was definitely sizing me up and checking out my car. Definitely could tell he wanted a lift, or to just rip the radio antenna off my car. It’s hard to be sure.
Kea’s are the largest flighted birds in New Zealand. Males can weight over a kilogram. They are also the second largest parrot in New Zealand after the larger flightless parrot the kakapo. There are a few flighted parrots in South America that are also bigger than the Kea. But Keas are certainly of an impressive size.
Facts about Keas
- The Scientific name of the species is Nestor Notabilis. From the Genus Nestor which is a subgroup of New Zealand parrots and Notabilis from latin for “noteworthy”. It is certainly noteworthy indeed
- Their curiosity and antics are famous. They have a tendency to try to explore cars (as said above), backpacks, etc. This is generally to look for food which is why they tried to pry off the rubber on my car to get in. Some scientists say they have the intelligence of a young human child.
- They are the only species of mountain parrot that lives in this type of climate and altitude. It is said they may have done this to escape other predators.
- Keas are known to be social animals and tend to do poorly in isolation (which is why they shouldn’t be pets)
- Keas are omnivores and eat all sorts of things from nuts to other birds. There are even reports of Keas attacking sheep and eat fat off their backs.