Thursday

New Zealand Birds- Kaka

Our look at New Zealand's birds continues with the second of our three parrot trio. The Kaka is a species of parrot most closely related to the Kea and Kakapo. The Kaka, which has two subspecies, is found in lowland and mid-altitude forests, seemingly undergoing niche partitioning with its cousins (Kakapo post coming soon). Kakas live in the mid to upper canopy of the forests; there they eat an omnivorous diet consisting of berries, fruit, nectar, invertebrates, seeds, and sap. Their tongue is brush-like allowing them to drink the nectar of flowers more easily. They use their strong hooked bill, which is very similar to the Kea's, to strip tree bark to find the larvae of the Huhu beetle.
Like so many of NZ's endemic birds, the Kaka is under threat from introduced mammalian predators. Stoats and possums are the main predators of eggs, chicks, and nesting females. Their nests are especially easy to access for these climbing mammals because they are built in the cavities of trees which the predators can climb easily. It has been shown that with a reduction in predator numbers the Kaka are able to increase their population fairly quickly. Even so, the IUCN lists them as Vulnerable.

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