Kakapo

What do you get when you cross a parrot with an owl? A kakapo!

Well, not really. But this ground-dwelling, nocturnal, flightless parrot does have an owl-like face. Due to its preference to be active at night, its eyes have migrated to the front of its face, and there is a dish-like ring of feathers around each eye that gives me the impression that it’s mildly surprised. If this parrot were to speak, I’d expect it to say, “What the hell?”

I didn’t even know these birds existed until a friend told me about them. There’s a good reason for that. Highly endangered, there are less than 150 left in the world. They only live on a few very remote, uninhabited islands of New Zealand.

They used to thrive throughout that country, so much so that the Maori used to hunt them for food and used their feathers to make capes. Then the Europeans came along, bringing with them cats, rats, and ferrets, and these birds didn’t stand a chance.

They are now closely monitored by conservationists, who, according to this video, are now doing a DNA map of all the birds in order to avoid inbreeding in this tiny population. There’s also another hilarious video of one Kakapo, named Sirocco, who is so imprinted on humans that he attempted, on camera, to mate with a man’s head. This video became so popular that it prompted Prime Minister John Key to name Sirocco the official spokesbird for conservation in 2010. (That’s Sirocco’s picture, below.)

You can help support the conservation of these birds by going over to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation page to adopt a kakapo. You’ll get a cute plushie which makes a great gift!

These birds need your help now more than ever. On April 18, 2019, it was discovered that some of them have been hit with a fungal infection called aspergillosis. Since then, 17 have been diagnosed with this disease, and in two short months, 7 have died. This is a scary number in such a small population, so if you can support these beautiful creatures, please, please do.

Sirocco the Kakapo

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