It can’t fly and it hides during the day but a critically endangered large parrot is back in the limelight having been named New Zealand’s bird of the year for an unprecedented second time.
The Guardian reports the green and fawn kākāpō – the world’s heaviest, longest-living parrot – first won in 2008. After conservation efforts, the population of this large parrot has risen from 50 during the 1990s to 213 now.
Kākāpō – a bird also known as “mighty moss chicken” – used to live throughout Aotearoa, but today survive only on predator-free islands.
Male kākāpō emit a loud booming sound to attract females and smell “like the inside of a clarinet case, musty and kind of like resin and wood,” said Laura Keown, spokesperson for the competition.
“The things that make kākāpō unique also make them vulnerable to threats. They are slow breeders, they nest on the ground and their main defence is to imitate a shrub.
“Those qualities worked great in the island of birds the kākāpō evolved in but they don’t fool introduced predators like stoats, rats and cats.”
The competition has boosted environmental awareness, organisers said, compared with 15 years ago when bird of the year started “It is definitely part of a shift in thinking about the needs of New Zealand’s unique environment and native species,” Laura said.