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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: New Zealand’s Kakapo

Air Date: Week of

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Kakapos are big, flightless birds that nevertheless manage to clamber up the trees of New Zealand’s forests. (Photo: © Jake Osborne)

Islands are famously home to a huge diversity of animals found nowhere else on Earth. In New Zealand, an edemic and peculiar bird called the Kakapo is making a comeback. BirdNote’s Michael Stein reports on this one-of-a-kind big bird.

Transcript

BASCOMB: Islands are famously home to a huge diversity of endemic animals, found nowhere else on earth. Think of lemurs in Madagascar, Giant Tortoises in the Galapagos, or Kangaroos in Australia. And from New Zealand BirdNote’s Michael Stein has yet another example of an island producing a one-of-a-kind animal.

BirdNote®

New Zealand’s Kakapo


New Zealand is home to some very unusual birds—the kiwis for example. But none is more peculiar than the Kakapo. 

[Kakapo male call, https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/conservation/native-anima...

The Kakapo is a kind of parrot, but one that doesn’t fly. At five pounds, it’s the world’s heaviest parrot. But being heavy and flightless doesn’t stop a Kakapo from getting up a tree. It uses its strong claws and beak to grip the bark and pull itself up.

 [Kakapo female call, https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/conservation/native-anima...




Kakapos are highly endangered but making a comeback. (Photo: © Jake Osborne)

Like many parrots, Kakapos are long-lived -- up to ninety years. Still, they’re highly endangered. These odd parrots evolved in an island world that lacked terrestrial predators. But all that changed when humans and their animals arrived. Now Kakapos are mostly consigned to a conservation recovery program on small islands that are free of predators.

Things are looking up though. The Kakapo population has grown 70% in the past five years. 
 
Even though there are only about 200 Kakapos out there, that’s still more than at any time in the past seventy years. The next challenge? Find more safe habitat for the growing population of these one-of-a-kind parrots.
 


[Kakapo male call, https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/conservation/native-anima...
                                                              ###
Written by Bob Sundstrom
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds courtesy of New Zealand Government Department of Conservation, https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/kakapo/
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote   March 2020     Narrator: Michael Stein
 
ID# kakapo-01-2020-03-18     kakapo-01
 
[lots of information at this site: https://www.doc.govt.nz/kakapo-recovery]
https://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2019/kakapo-population-reach...
https://www.google.com/amp/s/phys.org/news/2015-11-rimu-berry-game-chang...
https://www.birdnote.org/show/new-zealands-kakapo

BASCOMB: For pictures hop on over to the Living on Earth website, LOE dot Org

 

Links

Find this story and more on the BirdNote® website

Watch a short BBC video about “the cute and clumsy flightless parrot”

 

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