Tag Archive | bird

Kakapos: The Tubbiest, (Not-so) Little Bird You’ve Ever Seen

Howdy again! Today we’re going to talk about the world’s largest, flightless parrot. I’m sure many of you didn’t even know there was such a thing, because I sure as hell didn’t. The kakapo or the Strigops habroptila [1] is also known as the Owl parrot and is indigenous to New Zealand. Currently, this fancy parrot is on the IUCN’s red list, which means it is “Critically Endangered”. This is an improvement from before, as in 1996 the bird was officially labeled as “Extinct in the Wild”.

The Kakapo – which is oddly also nocturnal – is primarily a vegetarian who breeds every 2-5 years. The mating season lasts for 3 months from January to March, with male birds calling to the females each night. Interestingly, the male’s call is a low frequency boom, that can travel several kilometers! [2] (If you’d like the hear it: you can do so here [3]). Once the eggs are laid, in batches of 1-4 eggs, the female attends to the eggs and eventually chicks. Shockingly, though the females take 6-11 years to mature, the birds can live up to 90 years! [1]

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Nest containing 2 eggs and a new-born chick

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This is Manu! In this picture, he’s 18 days old. 

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Look at Manu growing up! He’s 75 days old.

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This is Alice. She’s feeding her 12-day old chick!

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Alice’s baby is growing fast! He’s 45 days old now. 

There is some speculation that the Owl Parrot is the longest-living species of bird, and originally used to be the size of a present day parrot (and used to be able to fly). However, New Zealand, the bird’s natural habitat – did not have mammals for thousands of years and thus the bird evolved to gain significant weight, lose its ability to fly, and actually became and avid hiker! [2] The Kakapo thus, used to be abundant throughout all of New Zealand without any real predators around, but after human colonization in the area, the population dropped to 18 male birds in 1976. By some small miracle, 150 additional birds were found in 1977 on a different island, which by 1988 had dropped to 61 birds. These remaining birds were transferred to different islands and in 1999, a recovery breeding program began with 50 individuals out of a population of 26 females and 36 males. From 2005 to 2009, the population increased from 86 to 114. Population numbers have been on a slow rise since then under heavy micromanagement. [1]

If you’d like to get involved and help out this (not-so) little guy, or just learn more about him, you can go to the Kakapo Recovery Program here [4].

I also highly recommend this video by “Mission Kakapo Copulation” available here [5] or here [6].

Remember, if you haven comments or questions, you can reach us at OpinionsOfANewAgeStudent@gmail.com, or at our twitter and tumblr @newagestudent.

Otherwise, I hope everyone enjoyed this adorable article and look forward to more!

Sources:

  1. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22685245/0
  2. http://kakaporecovery.org.nz/about-kakapo/
  3. http://kakaporecovery.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/bill-boom-1.mp3
  4. http://kakaporecovery.org.nz/get-involved/
  5. http://channel.tepapa.govt.nz/video/mission-kakapo-copulation/
  6. https://youtu.be/RRSH6XeT5co
  7. http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/kakapo    ALL PHOTOS ARE FROM HERE

The Guam Rail – No, It’s not a train

Alright, back to the progression of enhancing the availability of endangered animals! This time, we’re featuring the Guam Rail – a cute little bird, unable to fly, and extinct in the wild since the 1970s and 80s. Out of the 11 species of this bird that are native to Guam, 9 are extinct on their native island and is now only seen in few US zoos. Although attempts have been made to reintroduce the bird into the wild, those darn cats continue to prey on these innocent little birds…as well as the contribution of accidental deaths. Unfortunately, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in its infinite efficiency and competence (but what do you expect from a government service?), listed them when they were already extinct on Guam. Unfortunately, before cats became a problem, snakes were devouring the Rails, and after reintroduction, the snakes continued to prey on them, making chances of survival incredibly dim. Luckily, new technology has allowed a perimeter to be set up around the Rails that does not allow snakes in, which has increased the amount of birds surviving in the wild. However, it is thanks to the efforts of Zoologist Bob Beck that we have the few Rails we have today!

The Guam Rail

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