New Zealand's Chubby Rare Parrot Is Making A Breeding Comeback This Year
This year's kakapo breeding season has produced an unusually large number of the strange birds, boosting their numbers significantly.
The kakapo, is a nocturnal flightless parrot native to New Zealand, is listed as critically endangered, with just 147 known to be alive.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation has been making vast efforts to keep the species from going extinct, and this year managed to produce an estimated 50 new kakapo chicks.
That record-breaking number includes a three-chick nest, which is so far unprecedented in the conservation program.
Scientists have been working tirelessly to boost population numbers of the parrots.
The birds are monitored, receive regular health checks, safeguarded from predators, fed with supplementary meals before breeding season, and their chicks are hand-reared by conservationists until they are four-months-old.
The researchers even give the kakapo mothers dummy eggs that make noises imitating a chick, so that the mother is fully prepared to raise her offspring with care when they return the older babies to their nest.
Kakapo were common throughout New Zealand before the arrival of humans, but population numbers dropped dramatically as a result of hunting, introduced predators, and land clearance.
By the mid 1900s, the kakapo looked set to become extinct.
However, the recent intensive conservation efforts undertaken by the New Zealand government have seen some promising results -- 100 percent of the hand-reared birds introduced back into the wild survive until at least one year old.
The kakapo is well-recognised as an anomaly in the bird world, not only because it is the heaviest parrot species on the planet (males weigh in at 2.2 kilograms) but because of its extremely strange behaviours.
It the only parrot in the world that participates in 'lek breeding' -- where the male puts on mating displays at fixed locations and waits for females to come to it.
In fact, it was their breeding tendencies that arguably made kakapos world-famous in 2009 when the BBC aired a program hosted by Stephen Fry called 'Last Chance to See', which showed a male kakapo attempting to breed with a cameraman's head.
The segment was published with the title "Shagged by a rare parrot".