Kakapo Character

Hoki, looking a bit coy
Hoki, looking a bit coy.

Name
The kakapo's scientific name, Strigops habroptilus, means "owl-like', referring to it's unusual soft plumage and facial disc of bristle-like feathers. Its Maori name, 'kakapo', means 'night parrot'.
Close Relatives
Found only in New Zealand, the kakapo is not closely related to any other member of the parrot family.
Unique Features
The kakapo is the worlds heaviest and only flightless parrot. They are up to 60 cm long and weigh up to 3.5 kilograms (8 lbs.). It has a virtually keel-less sternum which makes it incapable of flying in the true sense: it can only 'parachute' from trees using its wings for balance and braking. It is nocturnal, solitary and secretive. It lives mainly on the ground but can climb trees.
Appearance
The kakapo has soft moss-green feathers barred with black on its back, pale yellow-green feathers underneath and, hidden away, an unusually soft layer of downy feathers. (Old specimens of pure yellow kakapo are existing in various museums around the globe.) The females are smaller and less brightly colored than the males. It has an owl-like face with 'whiskers', and a large ivory and pale blue beak. The kakapos' unique bill structure is adapted for grinding food finely; the gizzard, the organ in which food is ground in most parrots, is small and degenerate.
Kakapos have sturdy legs and although they cannot fly, their wings are still useful for balance while walking and running. It keeps its body held low and horizontal while walking so it's whiskers touch the ground. Most of the time they stand in this position as well, unless they are alert or defensive at which time they hold themselves upright.
Hoki's face up close
A stunning close-up.

Lifespan
Kakapo live for more than 60 years.
Habitat
The kakapo are quite solitary. They normally live alone and have large ranges, travelling several kilometers in one night. The males range from 15-30 hectares, females 35-50 hectares (to find food for young). Because they are solitary birds by nature, when ranges overlap they make a noise called 'skraarking' to keep a distance from each other. Kakapo used to be found through most of New Zealand, from lowland forests to mountain grasslands. They are now extinct on the mainland, the last survivors having been moved onto three offshore islands- Codfish, Maud and Little Barrier. The islands they live on today are all reserves with no predators except kiore (Polynesian rats).


Food
Kakapo live off the roots, seeds, fruits, bulbs, buds, flowers, leaves, cones and pollen of many different plants. Their diet varies according to which food plants are available.
Kakapo eating a leaf
Kakapo eating a leaf.
Kakapo, along with the native pigeons called "kereru", are New Zealand's only true herbivorous (plant eating) birds. This means they have to wait for good seed production years before they breed so they have enough protein for raising their chicks.


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