Scientists in New Zealand have rescued the world’s largest parrot from the brink of extinction. The population of the flightless kakapo has surpassed 100 birds for the first time in decades.
The ground-nesting kakapo, which weighs up to 9lb, was once widespread in the forests of New Zealand. But Maoris hunted it for its meat and bright green plumage, and European settlers brought cats, dogs, rats and ferrets into a formerly predator-free environment. A docile bird, the kakapo was prone to freeze on the spot when frightened.
The Kakapo (Māori: kākāpō, meaning night parrot), Strigops habroptila (Gray, 1845), also called owl parrot, is a species of large, flightless nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand. It has finely blotched yellow-green plumage, a distinct facial disc of sensory, vibrissa-like feathers, a large grey beak, short legs, large feet, and wings and a tail of relatively short length. A certain combination of traits makes it unique among its kind—it is the world's only flightless parrot, the heaviest parrot, nocturnal, herbivorous, visibly sexually dimorphic in body size, has a low basal metabolic rate, no male parental care, and is the only parrot to have a polygynous lek breeding system. It is also possibly one of the world's longest-living birds. Its anatomy typifies the tendency of bird evolution on oceanic islands, with few predators and abundant food: a generally robust physique, with accretion of thermodynamic efficiency at the expense of flight abilities, reduced wing muscles, and a diminished keel on the sternum.
Sirocco is one of 129 Kakapo left in the world