New Zealand Kea

New Zealand kea near Arthur's Pass, cheeky alpine parrot

Kea are the world's only alpine dwelling parrot, and endemic to the South Island of New Zealand. They are famous for their intelligence, with some studies finding they have similar intelligence and problem-solving skills of a four-year-old child. Being so intelligent, they are also famously curious, and destructive as they investigate anything of interest with their strong beaks. Kea are frequently referred to as cheeky, chaotic, mischievous and naughty. Sadly, the kea is endangered, mostly due to a rocky history with humans. Many thousands of the birds were killed during the 20th century, due to the belief that they attacked sheep. It is thought that less than 5,000 bird remain in the wild, and many of those are drawn to areas populated by humans, which increases the risks they face. The kea is a beautiful bird, with olive green plumage, blue feathers on their wings and bright orange feathers underneath, visible when in flight. 

Photographing kea is a joyful experience, as they seek to delight with their behaviour. But they also seldom sit still for a photo, and as such photographers are kept on their toes. This juvenile bird had been hopping frantically from rock to rock, as well as landing on the roofs of nearby cars to test the strength of their roof racks. He paused momentarily which allowed me to capture this photo. 

Through my calendar sales each year, I have sponsored three kea: Jack, Trillian and Whizz (who I also named). 

You can learn more about kea here