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It was wonderful to see one of these birds up close. They didn't stay still for long - didn't fly but walked around the enclosed and made it difficult to capture a photo.


The Kea (pronounced kia) (Nestor notabilis) is a large species of parrot (family Strigopidae) found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. About 48 centimetres (19 in) long, it is mostly olive-green with a brilliant orange under its wings and has a large narrow curved grey-brown upper beak. The Kea is the world's only alpine parrot. Its omnivorous diet includes carrion but consists mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar, and insects. Now uncommon, the Kea was once killed for bounty due to concerns by the sheep farming community that it attacked livestock, especially sheep. It received full protection only in 1986.


The Kea nests in burrows or crevices among the roots of trees. Kea are known for their intelligence and curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment. Kea can solve logical puzzles, such as pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get to food, and will work together to achieve a certain objective


The Kea's notorious urge to explore and manipulate makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called "the clown of the mountains",it will investigate backpacks, boots or even cars, often causing damage or flying off with smaller items.


People commonly encounter wild Kea at South Island ski areas. The Kea are attracted by the prospect of food scraps. Their curiosity leads them to peck and carry away unguarded items of clothing or to pry apart rubber parts of cars—to the entertainment and annoyance of human observers. They are often described as "cheeky". A Kea has even been reported to have made off with a Scottish man's passport while he was visiting Fiordland National Park.


Feeding Kea has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the birds' health and well-being and is thought to contribute to their destructive behaviour. The birds' trusting behaviour around humans has also been indicated as a contributing factor in a number of recent incidents at popular tourist spots where Kea have been purposely killed.

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Taken on February 9, 2012