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Extinction watch: A boom, a ching, is a Kakapo’s thing


Which species may vanish & why?
Kakapos/ Strigops Habroptilus

The world’s only flightless parrot is also the world’s heaviest parrot. When caught in the hunt, it tends to freeze and hope to blend into the background. The tactic usually doesn’t work. These parrots roost during the day in trees or on the ground and are active at night Kakapos are now critically endangered.

Before people landed in New Zealand, its only predator was the eagle. With people came rats, stoats and cats and the kakapo were hunted to near extinction.

The dwindling population was relocated to two islands off New Zealand’s South Island which are free from mammal predators. This has allowed the species to survive. Last year in September, the population of adult birds was officially recorded at 213!

Kakapos are said to smell nice! It helps the birds find each other.

During the breeding season, male kakapos can walk up to 4 miles to reach a special arena where they compete for the attention of females.

From low-frequency ‘booms’ to the high-pitched ‘ching’–the sequence of calls can go on for 8 hours a night for the duration of mating season: 2-4 months!

George Edward Grey, the English ornithologist who first described the kakapo in 1845, once wrote that his pet kakapo’s behaviour towards him and his friends was “more like that of a dog than a bird.”

Males don’t start breeding until they are about four years old, and females around six years of age. Their life expectancy is over 90 years.

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