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Mountain Parrot

Mountain Parrot
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, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-02-10 18:43
Viewed: 5043
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 32
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
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 4.4kmē.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 (Tab. 1), 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.[citation needed]

There had been a long-running controversy about whether the Kea preys on sheep, with the earliest reports appearing in 1867. An article by naturalist G.R. Marriner in 1906, describing substantial anecdotal evidence of these attacks, became the accepted view of the bird's habits.[9] Several prominent members of the scientific community concluded that the rumours were true, although others were not convinced. However, in 1962 animal specialist J.R. Jackson concluded that the bird may attack sick or injured sheep, especially if it mistook them for dead, but that it was not a significant predator.[19] Finally, in 1993, its nocturnal assaults were captured on video,proving that at least some Kea will attack and feed on healthy sheep. The video confirmed what many scientists had long suspected, that the Kea uses its powerful curved beak and claws to rip through the layer of wool and eat the fat from the back of the animal. Though the Kea does not directly kill the sheep, death can result from blood poisoning or accidents suffered by animals trying to escape.

The Kea has also been observed breaking opened shearwater nests to feed on the chicks after hearing the chicks in their nests.

The Kea has been observed feeding on the following plants:
Fruits: Astelia nervosa Leaves and buds: Euphrasia zelandica
Coprosma pseudopunctata Gentiana bellidifolia
Coprosma pumila Gentiana spenceri
Coprosma serrulata Gnaphalium traversii
Cyathodes colensoi Hebe pauciramosa
Cyathodes fraseri Hebe vernicosa
Caultheria depressa Lagenophora petiolata
Muehlenbeckia axillaris Nothofagus solandri var cliff.
Pentachondra pumila
Podocarpus nivalis
Seeds: Aciphylla colensoi Flowers: Celimisia coriacea
Aciphylla ferox Celimisia discolor var ampla
Aciphylla monroi Celimisia spectabilis var ang.
Astelia nervosa Cotula pyrethrifolia
Hebe ciliolata Gentiana bellidifolia
Pimelea oreophila Gentiana patula
Pittosporum anomalu Gentiana spenceri
Plantago raoulia Haastia pulvinaris
Luzula campestris
Roots: Anisotome pilifera Entire plant: Anisotome aromatica var arom.
Celmisia coriacea Ourisia sessilifolia
Gingidium montanum Ourisia caespitosa
Notothlaspi australe Ourisia macrophylla
Ranunculus insignis

I hope you don't mind the very long note,copied from Wikipedia once again..
I didn't want to leave any of it out because it is all so interesting and relevant.
Hope you like the shot too.

Cheers & thanks for looking,

jaycee, rcrick, boreocypriensis, Morigann, haraprasan, Dis. Ac., Argus, bobcat08 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-02-10 18:49]

Hi Steve,

What a great looking parrot - I have never seen a Kea before. Instead of the bright colors this one has the most beautiful plumage and lovely iridescent colors at the base of his wings. I love the beak and the very distinctive profile. A wonderful pose and centered composition.


Hi Steve,

Wow the beak on this is amazing; I'll bet it gets up to all sorts of mischief. Excellent detail in the plumage, wonderful colours, really well framed and composed, also glad to read its now fully protected since 1986, great notes.

Cheers Rick :)


This one reminds me of a 'predatory' bird of sorts. I mean, the beak is something else. Anyways, it is very nicely presented. TFS.

Best Regards,


  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2009-02-10 21:57]

Hi Steve,
Wonderful shot of this great looking Mountain Parrot with such amazing details on its plumage. Great pose captured and you have handled the natural harsh lighting very well here. Excellent POV, DOF and composition.

hello steve,
nice species captured, i have never seen it, i found the beek of this parrot quite interesting, good pose captured, pleasing composition,
tfs & regards

Hi Steve, another impressive capture of this beautiful kea with a lovely posture and nice composition MF!
TFS and cheers,

Hello Sir,
this is a nice capture of a Nestor notabilis.
I like this amazing beak. Very nice POV, good composition.
Well done

Hi Steve,
the Kea is a beautiful bird, I wish I could see this in real life.
The colour and pattern of the plumage are great, good sharpness and fine details.
Well done, old friend.

Namastay Steve,
A nice capture of this beautiful kea bird. Superb sharp details and a lovely composition. Thanks a lot for sharing.


Hi Steve,
what a nice presentation of the Kea.
They food the young ones also with young birds, I have been seen this in a nature film from David Attenborough.
Beautiful colours ans pose.
Good very long note.


Hello Steve,
A funny bird. Extraordinary parrot species.
Nicely composed with a precise posture.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2009-02-11 21:56]

Hello Steve,
A superb portrait of Kea, a bird that I have only seen in pictures and films. Though it shows orange on the wings when flying, I have never see the blue on the wings as shown in this shot.
The POV, sharpness and lighting are superb and allow it to show up well against the OOF natural green BG.
Thanks for posting this fine image, as well as the interesting long note.

Hi Steve,

I have also been seen this bird in a film from David Attenborough. Is a wonderful bird with a large upper beak. The details in the plumage are excellent.

Your notes are indeed very long, but.......interesting and relevant. My compliments.

Kind regards and TFS

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2009-02-13 8:49]

Steve, this is a fantastic shot!
You've managed to capture the mischievous look of this Kea very well :-)
Superb detail.
Great pose.

Fab shot mate so TFS! :-)


  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2009-02-14 4:29]

Hi Steve,
very sharp, lovely and original.
The patterns of the stylish feathers are detailed.
The position is really classical with a good stare.
Outstanding prersentation.


Hello Steve,
this is excellent image with beautiful Kea! Great pose, details and colors.

Best regards, Leonid

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