Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to share some unique facts about a very unique bird, the world’s only flightless parrot: the kakapo!
1. Kakapos may be the world’s only flightless parrot, but they have no trouble getting where they want to go. They have strong legs for walking and climbing, and their normal gait is that of a jog. They also can jump down from trees and use their wings as a parachute to slow their fall.
2. Kakapos weigh about four pounds as an adult, which is more than twice the average weight of any other parrot. They are also almost twice the length from beak to the tail of other large parrots.
3. It has been said that kakapos look as much like owls as they do like other parrots. In fact, their scientific name (Strigops habroptila) actually means “owl-like”. Their common name, though, is Maori for “night parrot”, because they are nocturnal.
4. Male kakapos do not pursue females they are interested in. They choose one spot, dig a shallow bowl in the ground, and then fluff up their feathers and make unique mating calls. They hope that females will be interested and approach them, rather than the other way around.
5. Kakapos are some of the longest-lived birds around. Even in the wild, many kakapos are known to live to over 90 years old.
6. Because their only native predators are other birds who hunt from the air by eyesight, kakapos freeze when they are in danger, or when they are just frightened.
7. Kakapos are known for their strong smell — but not in a bad way! Kakapos’ scent is often described as both musty and sweet, sometimes similar to honey.
8. Kakapo mothers raise the chicks all on their own. The chicks don’t rely on their nest for safety by the time they reach three months old, but their mother continues to bring them food until they are half a year old.
9. The population of kakapos in the wild is very small (just about 150 birds) but they are steadily making a comeback thanks to the hard work of conservationists. All wild kakapos have unique names. Older birds have English names and younger birds have Maori names.
10. The diet of a kakapo consists of fruits, nuts, and seeds. Their very favorite food is the fruit of the Rumi tree. Conservationists have actually noticed that when the Rumi fruit is in abundance, the kakapos mate more. They are hoping to use this to grow their wild population.
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