World's Smartest Bird on Brink of Extinction in New Zealand


The cheeky kea, a type of parrot native to New Zealand, is under “severe stress,” according to conservationists.

The bird was determined to be the smartest in the world by the Institute of Cognitive Biology in Vienna, even concluding that its intelligence rivals some primates. In the 1990’s, 15,000 of the birds soared above New Zealand’s South Island, but today only an estimated 1,000 remain.

The birds are well-known across the country for their mischievous ways, thus their cheeky name.

“It’s the flocks of teenage boys that are generally the real trouble makers, flying around, sliding down people’s roofs, throwing stones at windows and making a nuisance of themselves,” said Tamsin Orr-Walker, chairwoman of the Kea Conservation Trust.

Conservationists blame a few things for their decline, but a common poison used to kill opossums, 1080, and lead poisoning from the birds eating nail heads seem to be the top culprits.  Up until 1971, they were the target of an extermination campaign by farmers because the birds tend to attack livestock.

“People are really starting to appreciate their great personalities, and how smart they are and like humans,” said Orr-Walter. “But we’re still hearing of dead birds, stapled to signs or found in plastic bags by the side of the road, so there’s still a long way to go.”

Via: Epoch Times
Photo Credit: jsmjr on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

6 thoughts on “World's Smartest Bird on Brink of Extinction in New Zealand”

  1. The kea’s elongated bill is perfect for biting, tearing, and lifting a variety of prey and objects, even prying ruber parts from cars, a behaviour that has gien it a reputation as a vandal.

  2. The Cheeky Kea is so cute, of course I have always had and love parrots. I would love to have one to take care of and play with. If they are so intelligent, I can just imagine how fun they are. I love the colors too.

  3. This article is misquoted and somewhat out of context (as is the parent article from which it was taken).
    The statement “In the 1990’s, 15,000 of the birds soared above New Zealand’s South Island, but today only an estimated 1,000 remain.” is inaccurate. There were localised studies of kea at Nelson Lakes and Arthurs Pass in the 1990’s which if extrapolated over the entire range would indicate a higher population (ie up to 15,000) than the generally used estimate of 1,000-5,000 kea. However, we are not saying that the population has dropped from 15,000 down to 1,000-5,000 but that the population in Nelson Lakes appeared lower than previously sighted in the 1990’s. We still do not know what the wild population numbers of kea stands at and our present concern is with the fact that there appears to be fewer kea in the study areas 10 years on (although we will need several years of data before we can definitively be assured of this).
    Also I would like to make clear that kea are a highly investigative species, hence their potential for making a ‘nuisance’ of themselves around human habitation – however this is certainly not intentional on their part and they are very much enjoyed by a large number of people in the south island for their playful and mischievous nature.
    If anyone would like to find out more about kea they can visit our website at
    Tamsin Orr-Walker
    Kea Conservation Trust Chair

  4. Re. your recent news item, a senseless NZ government-approved poisoning campaign is decimating our native birds. People who have lived in close proximity or who have worked or hunted in the bush have been telling the authorities this for years. Now they are finding out the true impact of this indiscriminate Class A poison on our native species for themselves, however still nothing is done to stop the widespread aerial broadcast of 1080 poison over our bush, forests and farmland.
    Note the following, taken from a recent news report, the arrogance remains and 1080 drops WILL continue.
    No doubt until these beautiful birds are EXTINCT!

    Re. Department of Conservation report on Kea Deaths, “DOC senior adviser Herb Christophers said the report was a draft only and more work had to be done before the effects of 1080 on kea were established. Though DOC would review its 1080 activities near kea habitats, aerial drops would continue. The poison is used to control possums, rats and stoats.”

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