A parrot endemic to the forests of New Zealand.
There are two subspecies, the North Island Kākā, Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis, and the South Island Kākā, N. m. meridionalis. The name Kākā is a Māori language word meaning "parrot".
The New Zealand Kaka is a medium sized parrot, around 45 cm (18 in) in length and weighing about 550 g, and is closely related to the Kea (also native to New Zealand and the worl’d only alipine parrot) but has darker plumage and is more arboreal. The forehead and crown are greyish-white and the nape is greyish-brown. The neck and abdomen are more reddish, while the wings are more brownish. Both sub-species have a strongly patterned brown/green/grey plumage with orange and scarlet flashes under the wings; color variants which show red to yellow coloration especially on the breast are sometimes found.
The calls include a harsh ka-aa and a whistling u-wiia.
The New Zealand Kaka lives in lowland and mid-altitude native forest. Its strongholds are currently the offshore reserves of Kapiti Island, Codfish Island and Little Barrier Island. It is breeding rapidly in the mainland island sanctuary at Zealandia, Karori Sanctuary, with over 100 chicks hatched since their reintroduction in 2002 to the extent that Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is now uniquely the only city in New Zealamd where kaka are returning to suburban gardens.
The New Zealand Kaka, like many parrots, uses its feet to hold its food. It feeds on fruits, berries, seeds, flowers, buds, nectar and invertebrates. It uses its strong beak to shred the cones of the kauri tree to obtain the seeds. It has a brush tongue with which it feeds on nectar, and it uses its strong beak to dig out the grubs of the longhorn beetle.
Kaka make their nests in hollow trees, laying clutches of 2 to 4 eggs in late winter. Both parents assist in feeding the chicks.
The New Zealand Kaka is considered vulnerabl. It has greatly declined, in part from habitat loss, in part because of introduced wasps, possums and bees, which compete with the New Zealand Kaka for food. Introduced stoats, rats and domestic cats also take a heavy toll of chicks and sitting hens.
Photographed at Zealandia
parrots eggs hatching