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Nestor notabilis

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Kea description

The Kea (Nestor notabilis) It is a bird of the family Strigopidae of 48 cm.. length and an average weight of 922 g..

Its head is olive brown color; narrow feathers of the crown with a few finely marbled black stripes; ear-coverts and lores more uniform dark brown; feathers of the neck slightly yellowish, with stripes and edges of brownish black color . Mantle and uppertail-coverts Green bronze with black stripes and Crescent-shaped rims; back and rump orange-red, with stripes and Tips blackish.

Flight feathers, primaries and greater coverts, drenched strongly with blue turquoise in them vane outer (more green in high schools); vane internal primaries, excluding the color lemon yellow. Wing feathers and axillary reddish color; underparts of the flight feather brown, with yellow bars in the vane internal primaries, excluding the orange color in the vane the secondary internal internal.

Their underparts feathers Brown olive light, with a ridge of dark brown. Upper, the tail, bathed in a bluish green tone, with bars in the vane internal orange yellow color and a blackish subterminal band with Tips lighter; undertail, the tail, olive-yellow color, with a dark subterminal band; the tips of the stripes of the tail feathers extend slightly beyond the network.

The bill brown-black color; cere dark brown; irises dark brown; legs blackish gray.

The males they are larger and have upper jaws longer than females (an average of 12 to 14% more).

The young birds they have the rump greener, yellow the Ceres, with rings perioftalmicos yellow, a pale base in the lower jaw, and legs pale yellow.

The nude parties yellow are lost after two years after three in the male and female.

  • Sound of the Kea.

Habitat of the “Kea”:

The Kea (Nestor notabilis) they live at an altitude between 600-2400 m.

They are commonly found near tourist attractions. But, its main habitat is in the tree line between 950 and 1.400 m.

They mark a certain preference for deep canyons whose walls are covered in forests of beeches (Nothofagus cliffortioides). At higher altitudes, that is it can be observed in subalpine Shrublands. The species It is considered as monotype.

It is a bird family and curious. He likes to live close to the houses and feel the human presence. His mischievous demeanor and keen intelligence earned him the title of “clown of the mountains“.

It's a joy for tourists, that compensates for, in part, the wrong bad reputation that had in the past.

During the period of nesting, the pair is the basic social unit, but for the rest of the year, It is a species very gregarious they live in family groups, feeding in flocks of 30-40 birds, often in landfill sites.

The males are polygamous, each can have a harem of some 4 females. Dominant males are not necessarily the oldest.

Establishing a hierarchy is tricky. Adults often dominate subadults but it can also happen that a young dominates an adult.

The Kea established territories that are resizable. These can be overlaid on the periphery, but the nucleus or the central part situated, near the nest, It has an inviolable space that is defended with aggression.

During the nesting season, breeding birds are sedentary, and never will they move away to more than one kilometre from the nest. On the other hand, the non-breeding birds are very mobile, and some have been seen more of 60 km of where they were ringed.

Reproduction of the “Kea”:

The strong conjugal bonds and fidelity to the nesting site are the two basic rules of the Kea, that is manifested by the fact that the nest often takes several years to be completed. But, unpaired males can visit the nests and try to mesh with females.

The breeding season extends July-January. The female lays 2 to 4 white eggs in a burrow or cavity covered with some sticks, leaves and MOSS. The site is often found at the base of a cornice, but they also use stone blocks placed above the tree line.

The eggs are deposited a few days apart and only the female incubates for a period that varies between 21 and 28 days. In the meantime, the male stands guard nearby and is responsible for feeding his partner. Initially, bring enough food to also supply the calf, but after a few weeks, the female leaves the nest, in order to help you in your task.

The chicks, covered with a white marker, they leave the nest after 13 to 14 weeks. They continue to be fed by the parents during 1 month to 6 weeks. In January and February, immediately after the nesting season, the Kea they tend to congregate in large flocks which can contain 50 or more individuals.

Feeding of the “Kea”:

During the summer, the Kea they can be active even during the night. In winter they are reduced to more modest altitudes below the elevation of snow. Some groups choose to stay in the mountains near ski resorts.

The Kea feed of carrion, in particular sheep. Contrary to its reputation, they never attack healthy sheep. have a diet mainly vegetarian and they fed both in trees and on the ground. Your menu includes leaves, outbreaks, estate, seeds, berries, flowers, nectar and insects. In summer they also eat beetles, worms, lobsters and land snails.

The dominant males they are known to find its food in campsites and parking areas.


Size of the area of distribution (reproduction / resident): 63.300 km2

endemic to the South Island of New Zealand (Although vagrants have been recorded in the North Island, for example, in the Tararua mountains), finding, mainly, between 950 m and 1.400 m above sea level in forests and subalpine scrub.

Its distribution extends from the South West of Southland (for example Wilmot Pass), to the North by the Fiordland National Park (for example, about Te Anau, Homer Tunnel), Westland district and The Southern Alps (for example, Westland National Park, Fox and glaciers Franz Josef, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park), Arthur Pass National Park and Graigieburn Forest Park. Nelson Lakes National Park and Big Bush State Forest, the Seaward Kaikoura Range (for example, the Mount Manakau), the region of Marlborough, the Richmond range, finally reaching the Highlands around Mount Cobb, at its Northwest end.



• Current Red List of UICN: Vulnerable

• Population trend: Decreasing

The populations of the Kea they appear as stable and they can range between 1000 and 5000 specimens.

The concentration of birds around tourist spots leaves a false impression, giving the impression of being a fairly ordinary parakeet.

Due to the false reputation he had for attacking sheep, This bird was hunted by farmers and thousands of birds were exterminated between 1860 and 1970.

Since 1988, the Kea is fully protected, What does not prevent, sometimes, their capture and sale as a pet.

The parrot “Kea” in captivity:

Very rare in captivity.

As indicated sources, a captive male for Kea was still alive after 47 years in the Antwerp Zoo. It showed signs of old age. Other Kea in the bristol zoo, of at least, 43 years of age showed no signs of aging.

In captivity, These birds can be raised from the 4 years of age

Alternative names:

Kea (English).
Kéa, Nestor kéa (French).
Kea (German).
Papagaio-da-nova-zelândia (Portuguese).
Kea (español).

Kuhl, Heinrich
John Gould

Scientific classification of the Kea:

Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Strigopidae
Genus: Nestor
Scientific name: Nestor notabilis
Citation: Gould, 1856
Protonimo: Nestor notabilis

Images “Kea”:

Videos "Kea"

Kea [Nestor Notabilis]



– Parrots of the World – Forshaw Joseph M
– Parrots A Guide to the Parrots of the World – Tony Juniper & Mike Parr
– Birdlife


(1) – An adult Kea in Fiordland, New Zealand by Mark Whatmough – Wikipedia
(2) – Kea at Twycross Zoo, England. Close up of head and neck By Paul Reynolds from UK (IMG_7147_080227_40DUploaded by snowmanradio) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(3) – A Kea at Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand By Rosino (scary keaUploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
(4) – Male Kea (Nestor notabilis) on road to Milford Sound, New Zealand By User:Velela [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(5) – Nestor notabilis By Aidan Wojtas from Wellington, New Zealand (Running KeaUploaded by snowmanradio) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sounds: nick talbot (Xeno-canto)

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