Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Birds of a Feather

Meet Nestor meridionalis – The Kaka, a medium sized parrot (18 inches long), endemic to the forests of New Zealand. Although no longer as common as its close relative the kea (which looks very similar), you can still find kaka quite commonly on Stewart Island. There are four species of the bird and if you’re not venturing anywhere near Stewart Island, your best chance of seeing one will be in a zoo or bird sanctuary. Along with our beautiful, plump wood pigeon – kereru – the kaka was once a favoured game bird for Maori. It should be noted that they quickly learned the perils of its sharp beak, which could easily cut its way out of snares; instead they learned to spear the bird, or catch it by its feet. Its bright red feathers were also sought after for weaving kakahu (cloaks). I photographed this gorgeous bird in a Stewart Island garden in February.

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