Kakapo - A Flightless Parrot Species
Kakapo, also known as the African Nightjar, is a flightless herbivorous nocturnal parrot that also happens to be the world's biggest parrot, the world's oldest living bird, and a critically endangered species. In 2009, there were just 19 kakapo parrots left in the world.
Kakapo Survival in New Zealand has reported more recently that the population has increased to roughly 150 individuals in 2014, which is a significant gain but still not enough to prevent the species from extinction. This rare species lives on a set of protected islands where there are no predators and where there are numerous technology-supported initiatives to keep them healthy as part of their conservation efforts.
Kakapo, also known as the owl parrot (Strigops habroptilus), is a large, flightless, nocturnal parrot of the superfamily Strigopoidea that is endemic to New Zealand. It is a member of the parrot family, belonging to the subfamily Strigopoidea. Small in size, it has finely blotched yellow-green plumage with a noticeable face disc, a broad grey beak, and short legs with massive feet. Its wings and tail are also quite short. Because of a combination of characteristics, it is unique among parrots:
- It is the world's only flightless parrot
- It is also the world's heaviest parrot
- It is nocturnal
- It is herbivorous
- It has a low basal metabolic rate
- It does not require male parental care
- It is the only parrot to have a polygynous lek breeding system.
It is also believed to be one of the world's longest-lived birds, with reports of individuals living for up to 100 years. Its anatomy exemplifies the tendency of bird evolution on oceanic islands with few predators and sufficient food to exhibit island syndrome: a generally strong physique at the price of flight ability, resulting in reduced wing muscles and a reduced keel on the sternum, among other characteristics.
In addition to being historically significant to Mori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, the kakapo was also heavily hunted and exploited as a resource by them, both for its meat as a food source and for its feathers, which were used to make highly prized pieces of clothing. The kakapo is now on the verge of extinction, but it was once a common sight in the country's forests and on mountainsides.
Kakapos were also occasionally kept as pets by their owners. There are currently only 199 live individuals in the world's known adult population of the kakapo, all of whom have been identified and tagged. The kakapo is restricted to four small islands off the coast of New Zealand that have been cleared of any potential predators. Early Mori overhunting had decimated the kakapo population, which was further weakened by the introduction of predators such as cats, rats, ferrets, and stoats during the British occupation, almost completely wiping them out.
Conservation efforts began in the 1890s, but they were not particularly successful until the Kakapo Recovery Programme was implemented in 1995. The majority of kakapo are housed on two predator-free small islands.
During the current breeding season, a team of scientists, rangers, and volunteers is working around the clock in the hopes of turning a record breeding year into a repopulation milestone and bringing this beloved bird back from the brink of extinction. They are using 3D-printed smart eggs, activity trackers, and a sperm-carrying drone nicknamed the "cloaca courier" to help this beloved bird step back from the brink of extinction.
That species is the kakapo, a flightless parrot that is only found in New Zealand and is a rarity in the world. Each female kakapo on the planet—50 of them, with names like Pearl, Marama, and Hoki—as well as the status of their eggs is depicted.
It takes a lot of effort to repopulate a species. It takes the kakapo around two to four years to reproduce when rimu trees yield an abundance of fruit. Even when they do mate, less than half of the eggs are fertile, most likely because of inbreeding. In 2016, 122 eggs were deposited, however, only 34 chicks made it to the age of maturity.
"When I showed this to my zoo keeper partner, she said that there are only a total of 201 of this critically endangered species left on the planet and they would have otherwise been wiped out if not for conservation efforts (predator proof islands, hand rearing chicks, radio collaring for health checking)"
"He's lucky he's not from South America because he looks like Goliath Birdeater's favorite snack."
"The bird looks like one of those fake ones crafty people make out of twigs and such."
As an avian oddity, the kakapo is unique in that it is the only nocturnal and flightless parrot on the planet, a waddling, ground-bound bird that may weigh up to nine pounds and has a tendency to freeze when challenged by predators. The creatures' mottled green feathers serve as woodland cover, and their large beaks give them a goofy face that is a cross between an owl and a muppet.