Birds: Kea

A large and friendly parrot, this Kea flew up to the observation post just north of Te Anau, New Zealand, as we drove to Queenstown.  We were driving east after a fabulous kayaking trip in Milford Sound and were still marveling to each other about the great waterfalls, surf and birds we had spotted.

kea 1

The Kea posed for us on the railing.  He was probably used to receiving hand outs, but we did not oblige him.  His large upper mandible is quite a large hook and is probably the reason he can dismantle car window rubber linings, windshield wipers and trampers’s backpacks.


Instead, we took pictures and did not let him on our car hood. He was has bright orange feathers on the underside of his wings, which makes him look magnificent in flight.


Kea New Zealand, by Peter Jean Caley

I understand that the bird’s name, Kea, comes from the loud Keeee-aaaah call he makes, but we did not  hear it’s call at the rest stop where we got our best look.  Kathleen said that she heard the call while she and her NZ mates were tramping on some of the great treks in the snow covered mountains.  The friendly birds flew up to them and followed them for many kilometers, before flying off.

Our daughter, Eleanor, who was an assistant on the hiking and counseling of the Sierra Institute in California, had a student on the Institute’s trip who adopted the nickname KEA in honor of this friendly Antipodean fowl.

kea 2

Kathleen Hooper and the Kea at close range

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