The kДЃkДЃ (Nestor meridionalis) is a noisy and sociable bird of the forest. It is related to the alpine parrot, the kea (Nestor notabilis). In 1877 ornithologist Walter Buller wrote of MДЃori catching 300 kДЃkДЃ a day in the Urewera forest, during the rДЃtДЃ blooming season. Today it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 left in all New Zealand, most of them on islands.
North and South Island kДЃkДЃ
There are two subspecies, the North Island and South
At 575 grams, the South Island male is 100 grams heavier than his North Island cousin (females weigh 500 and 425 grams respectively). The North Island kДЃkДЃ has olive-brown plumage; the South Island
subspecies differs in its brighter green and crimson plumage and almost white crown. The birdвЂ™s most common call resembles
a creaky door, and it also mimics other species. KДЃkДЃ can live 20 years, but few reach that age in the wild.
Strongholds for kДЃkДЃ on the mainland include large tracts of forest from the Coromandel Peninsula south to the Aorangi Range in the Wairarapa, and the central North Island forests of Pureora and Whirinaki. In the South Island they are most numerous on the West Coast. On islands without predators, kДЃkДЃ are prolific breeders вЂ“ after possums were eradicated from Kapiti Island in 1986, kДЃkДЃ numbers approximately doubled to around 1,000 by 2001.
KДЃkДЃ eat nectar, fruit, berries, seeds, sap, insects and grubs. Enthusiastic feeders, they often leave a trail of debris as they tear out long strips of bark in search of insects and sap. Like honeyeaters, they use their spoon-tipped, bristle-edged tongues to lap up honeydew or nectar from flax and rДЃtДЃ flowers. Often hanging upside down to feed, they become increasingly comical and acrobatic as they get drunk on nectar.
Energy-rich foods are important in bringing the kДЃkДЃ into breeding condition. One reason that breeding has declined, especially in the South Island, is that pests such as wasps and possums compete for honeydew and nectar.
Starting in September (spring), the kДЃkДЃ lays an average of four white eggs in a hollow tree or branch. The chicks take over two months to fledge and another five months to become totally independent. Nesting in tree hollows, they are vulnerable to predators.
New ZealandвЂ™s native parrots вЂ“ the kea, kДЃkДЃ and kДЃkДЃpЕЌ вЂ“ may have evolved separately from other parrots after New Zealand separated from the Gondwana supercontinent, around 85 million years ago. KДЃkДЃ and kea belong to an endemic subfamily, Nestorinae.