Most people haven't even heard of The kakapo, a kind of flightless, nocturnal parrot that lives in New Zealand

The Kakapo – World's Strangest and Most Endangered Parrot

When you think about flightless birds, animals like the emu and ostrich may come to mind. Most people haven't even heard of the endangered kakapo, a kind of flightless, nocturnal parrot that lives in New Zealand. However, this bird is one of the most singular birds in the world.

Weighing in at eight pounds or so, theis is the heaviest parrot in the world. Even if it was an ordinary parrot, it would have trouble flying at that weight. However, like other flightless birds, called ratites, these birds also lack the enlarged keel, or sternum bone, that allows flight in most birds.

This bird is also called the owl parrot, is so endangered that all members of the species have been given names by the scientists who study them. There are only eighty-six living examples of this species in the world. Unfortunately, since these birds have a complicated breeding system and take over a decade to mature, young birds are few and far between. Introduced predators such as rats and dogs take a heavy toll on nests.

Despite their inability to fly, they can handily climb trees by walking up their trunks. Before they became endangered, their range covered much of the three main islands of New Zealand, including the edges of forests, coastal areas, and mountains. Now, these birds are limited to a very small area.

Kakapo, like most parrots, is quite curious and intelligent. Since they evolved on islands that had few natural predators, they also have little fear of humans, dogs, or other creatures that might harm them. This has contributed to the kakapo's decline. The chief predator of these birds before the arrival of humans and other creatures was a type of giant eagle. Because eagles hunt by sight, the flightless parrot learned to defend itself by freezing, so as to blend in with the greenery. Unfortunately, this strategy is ineffective against human and mammalian animal predators.

Native Maori hunted the kakapo for its features, skins, and meat. Dried kakapo heads served as ornaments. Feathers and skins were made into luxurious capes, similar to those found in Hawaii, and the meat is said to smell and taste sweet. Because of these features, the kakapo was a favored kind of prey. This means that the kakapo was extinct in many portions of New Zealand even before Europeans arrived. However, the arrival of settlers hastened these animals' decline.


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