23 Things You Didn’t Know About The Flightless Parrot Facing Extinction

Meet the Kakapo, a strange, adorable, very frisky bird New Zealanders are desperate to save from extinction.

1. The kakapo is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground dwelling parrot.

2. Endemic to New Zealand, it’s actually the world’s only nocturnal, flightless parrot.

South Pacific / BBC Natural History

3. It looks like an owl, or a giant budgie.

4. It’s been called one of the ugliest birds on Earth.

Which seems a little harsh.

5. A relic of a bygone age when it had no predators, it is the rarest parrot on Earth.

Robin Bush / Getty Images

6. Which might explain why it has lots of fans, including the actor Stephen Fry.

7. And his mate Mark Carwardine, a zoologist who found himself the object of a lusty kakapo’s affections in an infamous BBC nature documentary.

Last Chance to See / BBC Natural History Unit

Frisky. Very frisky.

Last Chance to See / BBC Natural History Unit

8. Amorous chap Sirocco was given the title of Official Spokesbird for Conservation by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in 2010.

As Official Spokesbird, Sirocco tweets and Facebooks with the assistance of a human intermediary.

9. Actor and heart-throb Benedict Cumberbatch is a fan too.

10. It’s estimated there are fewer than 130 kakapos left in the wild.

Source: Kakapo Recovery Project.

11. This is actually a big increase on 1989, when the population numbered just 65 birds.

12. Today there are kakapo breeding populations on three predator-free islands.

13. Unable to fly, the kakapo has plenty of time to bulk up, making it the world’s heaviest parrot.

Mark Carwardine / Getty Images

Kakapos weigh up to 4kg.

Kakapos can weigh up to 4kg.

South Pacific / BBC Natural History

14. It walks and jumps and is an excellent climber.

NZ Department of Conservation / Via reddit.com

15. It feeds on the ground or 20m up a tree.

16. They have a subsonic mating boom that can travel several kilometres: LISTEN.

17. It “skraarks” loudly like other parrots but you might mistake other calls for a braying donkey, a squealing pig, or a booming bittern: LISTEN.

NZ Department of Conservation / Via kakaporecovery.org.nz

18. The kakapo also produces a nasal metallic noise called “chinging”: LISTEN.

19. It’s possibly the longest-lived bird species in the world.

National Geographic / Via Facebook: siroccokakapo

The low adult mortality rate suggests a mean life expectancy of 90 years.

20. Kakapo have inhabited New Zealand for thousands of years but, with the arrival of humans and introduced predators, their once abundant numbers rapidly declined.

21. A small team of dedicated staff from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation have worked tirelessly to protect, manage and grow the kakapo population.

22. They have been supported by volunteers who provide extra support – by nest-minding and supplementary feeding – during the precious breeding seasons.

23. Last week a new kakapo hatched from a broken egg!

Watch Mark Carwardine being shagged by a kakapo here.

Want even more kakapos? Don’t miss this.

correction

An earlier version of this post did not cite a source for Sirocco’s social media activity.

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