Kakapo Parrot – The world’s rarest and heaviest parrot that can’t fly

Origin: New Zealand

Size: 60-65 cm, with a weight of 3.6 kg male, 2.7 kg female

Character: Kind, non-aggressive

Dwelling in the wild nature and reserves

Lifespan: About 90 years

Kakapo Parrot wallking

A unique parrot that differs from the rest not only in weight, a way of life, lack of ability to fly, but also appearance, character and breeding system. This is Kakapo Parrot. We’ll talk about  Kakapo our article.

Description of the Kakapo parrot breed

Kakapo, named also “owl parrot”, belongs to the Nestoridae family. It is a large flightless bird that inhabits New Zealand (only in the southwest of the South Island). Due to the fact that these birds have been isolated from predators, they hadn’t to be protected, they have lost the ability to fly.

Muscles of wings are almost completely atrophied, and now they can only plan, descending from the crowns of trees to the ground.

Also Take a look at : 8 Facts About African Grey Parrots Infographic.

The History of origin

Kakapo appeared in New Zealand when the continent Gondwana was splited. To this area it was possible to arrive only by flying, so predatory animals for a long time did not meet in this part of the island. The parrots realized that they had no one to defend themselves from, and led a habitual way of life for owl breeds – they slept during the day, and looked for food at night.

Their only enemies were the eagles, from which they learned to climb quickly to the trees and disguise themselves (plumage looks like New Zealand moss).

Kakapo Parrot

Kakapo Parrot

Features of appearance

Kakapo has yellow-green soft plumage with black impregnations, a large beak of gray color, massive feet and wings of small size. An adult parrot has weight from 2 to 4 kg, with a length of body about 0,5-0,6 m. There may be stripes of mossy-green, dark-brown, greenish-yellow feathers on its body. The color of the facial feathers is significantly different from those on the body. So, on the sensitive disc of the face there are vibris gray-brown plumelets.

The distinguishing features of this bird’s skeleton are an undeveloped chest, low keel, the unconnected fork, the wide pelvis, long proximal bones of paws and wings, and short distal ones.

Another unique quality is the presence of a strong, pleasant smell of a bird, similar to honey flower.

The color of the individuals of male and female is the same, only the male is larger in size. More mature birds have a brighter color. All representatives of this breed have large, strong, scaly legs. The fingers are located in the zigodactyl form. This means that two are directed forward, and two are backward. Due to the fact that the parrot walks a lot, the ends of the feathers on his tail are erased against the ground.

Character and habits of the owl parrot

Parrot kakapo eating

Parrot kakapo eating

Kakapos has a kind, not aggressive temper. They remind pets of their character, because they require attention and affection to themselves. Kakapos are very sociable and good-natured. They easily find a common language with people, and are attached to them.

Way of life in the wild nature

ground parrot

ground parrot

Now owl parrots live only in New Zealand in the areas overgrown with herbs and shrubs. They like territories with high humidity, which are at a considerable height above sea level. In the day-time Kakapo sleep in the burrows under the roots of trees, or in clefts of mountains, and at night they walk along the trampled paths in search of food.

Each adult bird has its own territory of habitation: for a male – 20 hectares, for a female – about 50 hectares. Their gait is similar to swinging ducks. In hard times an owl parrot can accumulate a large amount of fat for conservation of energy. If the birds notice the danger, they freeze in place, trying to merge with the world around.


Parrot kakapo eating apple

Parrot kakapo eating apple

These birds eat small reptiles, berries, pollen, roots, seeds, moss, mushrooms, some insects, juice of plants. They especially love the fruits of Dacrydium. To get these fruits, they have to climb up 20-meter trees, and then fly off by means of wings. A powerful beak is easy to grinds food, therefore the throat has a small size.


The diet of mainly herbivores Kakapo is about 25 plants.



Parrot kakapo with baby

Parrot kakapo with baby

Kakapo is considered unique because it has a polygynous system of reproduction (it can fertilize several females during one season). Males use the following technique to attract females:

  1. They climb to the highest parts of the hills, and start shouting at a low-frequency sound that resembles rumbling. This sound is heard within a radius of more than 5 km.
  2. In order for sound to spread better, they dig a small hole in the ground (10 cm deep), which is perfectly resonates.
  3. The male makes such depressions in several best places from his point of view.
  4. Then, for 3-4 months, he walks around these pits every night, and calls the females.
  5. The female, who heard the call, goes for search of a male.
  6. If they liked each other by their external qualities, they mate.
  7. Then the female goes to build a nest and hatches eggs, and the male invites new partners again.
Parrot kakapo singing

Parrot kakapo singing

Such marriage rituals exhaust the male, and he loses about half the mass of his body during this period. To incubate eggs, females make holes in the place of a rotten stump, in a cleft of the rock, or on the ground in the bushes. The period of laying of eggs lasts about a month in January-March. Little greyish parrots live under the mother’s supervision for almost 1 year, after they become independent. Males reach their final sexual maturity only at the age of six, and females at the age of ten.

Red Book

Parrot Kakapo

Parrot Kakapo

Now Kakapo are listed in the Red Book, because there are about 130 individuals. Most of them are under the supervision of scientists. The birds have many enemies because of the development of New Zealand. In the past, the danger was constituted by local residents who killed Kakapo for meat and beautiful feathers, which served as an ornament for their clothes. Later, some parts of forests were cut down, in order to grow yams, sweet potatoes, taro (Latin: Colocasia esculenta) at this place. Thus, the parrots lost natural places of their habitats.

Rare Parrot kakapo

Rare Parrot kakapo

European settlers played a decisive role in significantly reducing the number of Kakapo, because along with them, rats, cats, dogs, and ermines came to the continent. Mature individuals could defend themselves and climb on trees, but the chicks and eggs remained in danger. Because of this in the middle of the last century there were only 30 Kakapo in the world. This caused ornithologists to raise the alarm.

Since then, many birds have been moved to reserves, where scientists collected their eggs, protecting them from predators, and put eggs to brood hens. For today, the number of parrots is slowly increasing.


Video: Kakapo Strigops habroptila

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