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What Is a Kea Parrot?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2014
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The kea parrot is a type of parrot native to New Zealand. These parrots usually reach an adult length of about 19 inches (48 cm). The kea parrot's feathers are usually olive-green in color, though the underside of its wings will typically be bright red or orange. The bird's lower back may also be bright red or orange, and its tail is typically blue. The kea parrot normally has a long, hooked beak, though the female specimen's beak will usually be shorter than the male's.

These birds generally build their nests in rocky outcrops, between the months of July and January. The female kea parrot typically lines her nest with lichens and moss, and deposits three or four eggs therein. She will usually sit on the eggs for about 29 days. The male will usually begin to help feed the young when they reach the age of about four weeks. The young kea parrots normally leave the nest at about 13 weeks of age.

Female kea parrots may reach reproductive maturity at about three years of age. Males will usually be old enough to mate at four or five years of age. During a single nesting season, the average male kea parrot will take as many as four mates.

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Kea parrots typically subsist on a diet of berries, leaf buds, fruit, flowers, and insects. They may also eat dead animals, especially the fatty parts, and have been known to attack live sheep in order to eat the fatty deposits found near their kidneys. Seeds, roots, and nectar will also form a part of the average kea parrot's diet. These birds can usually hunt for food in the cracks between rocks, using their long, sharp beaks. They have also been seen to raid garbage containers by prying the lids off with their beaks.

This species is known for its attention-seeking, mischievous,and fearless qualities. They will often try to attract the attention of people, and have been seen entering buildings and attacking cars. Kea parrots are also known for their tendency to destroy human property.

These birds usually live on the ground, at altitudes ranging from 900 to 6,000 feet (300 to 2,000 meters). They will usually move to higher altitudes during the summer, where they will feed on berries and fruits. These birds are considered very resistant to low temperatures, however, and some will remain at higher altitudes all year long.

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