Fat and cuddly, the Kakapo is a very unique parrot breed that is in serious need for preservation. With just over a 100 of these birds alive on the entire face of earth, they are on the verge of extinction and one fine morning we may just come to know that they have joined the dinosaurs. Here are 30 interesting Kakapo facts that you will find interesting if you happen to be a bird lover. Even if you are not, we are pretty sure that you will fall in love with them because of their helpless looks.
Interesting Kakapo Facts: 1-10
1. Kakapo is a flightless parrot. Hell yes! It cannot fly, which is basically one of the reasons why this bird is on the verge of extinction.
2. The Kakapo is not just flightless. It is also the fattest and heaviest parrot known. A Kakapo can actually hit the weight of 4 kilograms.
3. This ground-dwelling parrot species is nocturnal by nature.
4. Kakapos are world’s longest-living birds. They can live up to 95 years on an average! The maximum they can live is 120 years.
5. The species is so endangered that only 126 of these birds are alive today.
6. This bird species is indigenous to New Zealand. Because of its critically endangered status, the species has been assigned a separate island as home.
7. The island is specially protected. There are no predatory animals like feral cats, stoats and rats on the island.
8. The Kakapos have faces that resemble that of owls. This is why they are also known as owl parrots.
9. Adults of this parrot species can reach a length of 58 to 64 centimeters. Males are usually bigger in size compared to females.
10. The average weight of males is 2 kilograms while the females have an average weight of 1.5 kilograms.
Interesting Kakapo Facts: 11-20
11. Compared to their body size, the Kakapos have small wings and the sternum or keel bone (responsible for anchoring flight muscles in other birds) is not well-developed in these birds.
12. These birds have large, scaly and muscular legs which allow them to be excellent climbers and hikers.
13. When Kakapos walk, their gait resembles jogging. Their strong legs allow them to climb trees as well.
14. They have short wings as mentioned but they still put their wings to some good use. They often end up using their wings as parachutes while jumping off from the trees.
15. When startled, the Kakapos just freeze and try to blend into the surroundings. This defense mechanism was effective against aerial predators but with predators like rats and feral cats, this mechanism doesn’t work well.
16. The Kakapos have a very acute sense of smell which helps them to stay active during night.
17. Not only do they have a very well-developed sense of smell, they themselves smell pretty good. They are often described as creatures with musty-sweet odor. These birds use their body scent to find each other. Unfortunately, the smell also attracts predators.
18. Kakapos are pretty-friendly by nature. Early European settlers and Maori people used to keep these birds as pets. Even the wild ones are pretty friendly.
19. The courtship system used by this parrot species is known as lekking. During the breeding season, the males head for a special arena after covering a distance of 4 miles.
20. Once in the arena, the males will look for banks, tree trunks or rock faces and dig a bowl in the ground and get in the bowl which are usually 10 centimeters deep.
Interesting Kakapo Facts: 21-30
21. The males will then emit sounds known as ‘booms’. These are low-frequency sounds that can travel to a distance of 3 miles. The rock faces and banks where they dig their bowls help to reflect the ‘booms’ or mating calls and the bowls act as amplifiers.
22. 20-30 low-frequency booms are then followed by high-pitched metallic chings.
23. The males continue with their mating calls for a period of over 2-4 months. The mating calls go on for 8 hours every night.
24. The females also walk to the arena from their territory and when a female enters the court of one of the male displays a rocking side to side movement, turns back and walks backwards with wings spread out towards the female.
25. The copulation lasts for 4 to 12 minutes after which the female returns to the nest and lays 1-2 eggs.
26. Once the female leaves, the male will continue with the mating call hoping to find another interested female.
27. The females guard the eggs throughout the day and only leaves alone during night when they move out looking for food.
28. Eggs hatch after 30 days. The chicks are then nurtured by the female mothers for a period of 3 months. The chicks continue to stay with their mothers for a few months after fledging.
29. These birds have large beaks that can finely grind the food they consume. These fat parrots are herbivores by nature and usually feed on tree sapwood, pollen, fruits, seeds and native plants.
30. The feeding habits of Kakapos vary from one season to another. The most common plants they feed on include Thelymitra venosa, Olearia colensoi, Dracophyllum longifolium, Cyathodes juniperina, Blechnum procerum, Blechnum minus, Schizaea fistulosa, Lycopodium fastigium and Lycopodium ramulosum.