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Kea - Alpine Parrots

Kea - Alpine Parrots
Photo Information
Copyright: Steve Reekie (LordPotty) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1381 W: 144 N: 3872] (12503)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-11-02
Categories: Birds
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/200 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Rare Creatures [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-11-02 2:05
Viewed: 7741
Points: 42
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Today I went up to Arthurs Pass in the Southern Alps with Elizabeth (elizabeth) and Murry,the pressident of our camera club here in Greymouth.
We spent a couple of hours up there photographing the Keas above the Otira viaduct,and,although the light was pretty harsh,we came away with a few reasonable shots.

I'm not sure what these two are actually doing,so you can make up the story for yourselves.
Here is some information about the species which I have used in previous posts.

Nestor notabilis

The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is a species of parrot (family Psittacidae) found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. The Kea is one of the few alpine parrots in the world, and includes carrion in an omnivorous diet consisting mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar and insects. Now uncommon,the Kea was once killed for bounty as it preyed on livestock, especially sheep, only receiving full protection in 1986.

Kea are legendary for their intelligence and curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment.

Most people only encounter wild Kea at South Island ski areas. The Kea are attracted by the prospect of food scraps from human habitation. Their curiosity leads them to peck and carry away unguarded items of clothing, or to pry apart rubber parts of cars - to the entertainment and annoyance of human observers. They are often described as "cheeky".

Taxonomy and naming:
The Kea was described by ornithologist John Gould in 1856. Its specific epithet, the Latin term notabilis, means "noteworthy".The common name is from Māori, probably representing the screech of the bird. The term Kea is both singular and plural.

The genus Nestor contains three species: The Kākā (Nestor meridionalis), the Kea (N. notabilis), and the extinct Norfolk Island Kākā (N. productus). All three are thought to stem from a 'proto-Kākā', dwelling in the forests of New Zealand 15 million years ago.The closest relative is most likely the Kākāpō (Strigops habroptilus).
A 2005 sex chromosome spindlin DNA sequence study suggests that the Nestor species, and the Kākāpō in its own genus, comprise an ancient group that split off from all other Psittacidae before their radiation,but fossil evidence seems to contradict this[citation needed]; given the violent geological history of New Zealand (see, for example, Taupo Volcanic Zone), other explanations such as episodes of genetic drift seem better supported by evidence.

Distribution and Habitat:
The Kea (Nestor notabilis) is one of seven parrot species endemic to New Zealand. The other mainland species are the Kākā (Nestor meridionalis), the Kākāpō (Strigops habroptilus), and three species of Kākāriki: the Yellow-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus auriceps), Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) and the Orange-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi). The seventh New Zealand parrot species is the Antipodes Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor)), endemic to the subantarctic islands after which it is named.

The Kea ranges from lowland river valleys up to the alpine regions of the South Island such as Arthur's Pass and Mt. Cook National Park, closely associated throughout its range with the southern beech (Nothofagus) forests in the alpine ridge. Its notorious urge to explore and manipulate, combined with strong neophilia, makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called "the clown of the mountains", it will investigate backpacks, boots or even cars, often causing damage or flying off with smaller items.

Population estimates range from 1,000 to 5,000 individuals, but its widespread distribution at low density prevents accurate estimates.[7][8] Together with local councils and runholders, the New Zealand government paid a bounty for Kea bills because the bird preyed upon lifestock, mainly sheep.It was intended that hunters would kill Kea only on the farms and council areas that paid the bounty, but some hunted them in national parks and in Westland, where they were officially protected. More than 150,000 were killed in the hundred years before 1970, when the bounty was lifted.In the 1970s the Kea received partial protection after a census counted only 5000 birds. It was not fully protected until 1986, when farmers gave up their legal right to shoot any Kea that tampered with property or livestock. In exchange, the government agreed to investigate any reports of problem birds and have them removed from the land.

Life Span:
In the wild, undocumented, but estimated to be 15 years
At least one observer has reported that the Kea is polygamous, with one male attached to multiple females. The same source noted that there was a surplus of females.In one study, nest sites occur at a density of 1 per 4.4km².The breeding areas are most commonly in Southern Beech (Nothofagus sp.) forests, located on steep mountain sides. Breeding at heights of 1600m above sea level and higher, it is one of the few parrot species in the world to regularly spend time above tree line. Nest sites are usually positioned on the ground underneath large beech trees, in rock crevices or dug burrows between roots. They are accessed by tunnels leading back 1m to 6m into a larger chamber, which is furnished with lichens, moss, ferns and rotting wood. The laying period starts in January and reaches into July. 2-4 white eggs are laid, with an incubation time of around 21 days.

An omnivore, the Kea feeds on more than 40 plant species, beetle larva, other birds (including shearwater chicks) and mammals (including sheep and rabbits).The Kea has also taken advantage of human garbage and "gifts" of food.In captivity, the bird is fond of butter, nuts, apples, carrots, grapes, mangoes, figs, bread, dairy products, ground meat and pasta.

wishnugaruda, jconceicao, boreocypriensis, cataclysta, jmouche, siggi, Merlin, pekkavalo1, ramthakur, haraprasan, Argus has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Preview-neighbour,
hi Steve,
your kissing couple is realy lovely, I never saw such birds before, and I like them very much. You made a wonderful catch, congrats.
Bye and greetings
Sabine - wishnugaruda

Hello Steve,

Fantastic photo.
Excellent timing.
Composition and light are superb.
Good notes.

Hi Steve
Those amaizing birds are as always very interesting for me. Very nice moment, good sharpnesss and nice natural surrounding. Maybe you could play with levels or contrast a little bit

Hi Steve,
Absolute amazing capture of a one happy family:). Love time indeed. Great in all around my friend.
TFS and cheers,


Hi Steve,
Nicely captured moment here.the lighitng and exposure are also perfectly, well done.TFS.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-11-02 2:33]

Hello Steve,
Great capture on this beautiful pair. The colors and detail in the plumage look superb. Nice job on the exposure to get the entire scene looking good.
Regards Siggi

Hi Steve,
Nicely captured moment here.


Steve: Always nice to see a photograph of animal interactions, and this is a beauty. The plumage of these parrots blends well with the background, demonstrating how difficult they could be to see - if they weren't so noisy! Lighting, sharpness and depth of field are excellent and I appreciate the restraint in PP to give natural colours. Excellent note - a combination of facts and a contextual content too!
Regards, Nigel.

Hi Steve,
Excellent capture of these Kea. You have good POV and composition, sharp details that have not been affected by the harsh light, nice bright colours and natural BG.

  • Great 
  • efsus Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 415 W: 11 N: 843] (3947)
  • [2008-11-02 4:47]

Merhaba Steve,
Gerçekten sıradışı renkleri ve tüy desenleriyle, aynı zamanda enfes bir zamanlamayla seyri hoş bir kompozisyon ortaya koymuşsunuz. Elinize sağlık.


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-11-02 5:18]

Hello Steve,
Very beautiful photo in great natural colours and a nice pose. Good sharpness and an excellent composition and POV.

Hello Steve,

This is great! Love all the shades of green and the poses of the keas, of course. Picture is very clear and well exposed too.



Hello Steve

It looks like they are kissing.I guess osculation is mimicked in adult years as a sort of affection.
The POV is very good with a well focused subject and the DOF is well handled.The slightly OOF BG helps the subject stand out all the more.
The lighting is warm and reveals lovely colour.
Well seen and composed in the frame.
Job well done.


Hello Steve,
I don't know what they're doing actually. Maybe cleaning or sharing foodstuff. Never mind, it's a very communicative moment between these extraordinary parrots.
Very good point of view. Definitely a matching perch and background as well.
So, well done!

Well, it could be love I suppose. Perhaps more likely one is a juvenile and still looking for a handout. Whatever... the interaction is super . I love the color and patterns on these birds. On my monitor the image is a bit undersaturated. I think the patterns could be even more striking with a bit of contrast???? It's a neat shot. Thanks for sharing it.

Evelynn : )

The Kea parrots have their unique characteristics in terms of colour of their feathers and even their body shapes, Steve.
This pair is being lovey-dovey, I guess :).
Very fine image of the two birds in their natural habitat.
I like the moss-covered stones they are sitting on.
TFS and regards.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-11-03 1:22]

Steve, This is a good shot and lovely composition. I like the BG and the sorroundings. Ganesh

Hi Steve

Great shot of these two kissing Kea
Good sharpness and plumage details


Namastay Steve,
A nice capture of these beautiful Kea birds together. Superb composition and sharp details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-11-03 14:22]

What a lovely intimate photo, Steve.
The image-quality here is outstanding!
Very well composed.
Great poses.

Nice work mate!


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-11-04 12:13]

A cute and well presented image, Steve!
A delightful capture of a pair of pair bonding Keas showing a mild side of their reputation.
Technically of high quality and well composed to show them clearly in their natural habitat.
Thanks for sharing this delight,

  • Great 
  • eliz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 167 W: 20 N: 271] (1537)
  • [2008-11-18 22:28]

wonderful interaction.
never seen this species ... a parrot that live at 1600m altitude. interesting


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