Kakapo Is The Only Parrot That Can’t Fly
Kakapo parrots are native to Newzealand which are one of the rarest birds that are also unable to fly. Today there are only 147 of them alive in the wild, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation in August 2018. 14 Kakapos were first discovered between 1974 to 1976 in Fiordland which were all males. This had raised the possibility that these species would become extinct. It is thought before humans had arrived, Kakapos were alive in millions at one time. They lived in a variety of habitats such as tussock lands, coastal areas, and scrublands, also inhabited a variety of forests.
Though these birds are unable to fly, they are excellent tree climbers. They can climb the tallest of trees and are seen to “parachute” down by spreading their wings, gracefully landing to the ground. Kakapos are nocturnal animals and thus have developed very strong legs as they can walk several kilometers and climb 300 meters (1000 ft) up hills and back down again. They are herbivores but feed mainly on plants, seeds, pollen, fruits, the sapwood of trees, and are particularly fond of eating the fruit of the rimu tree. Occasionally they eat insects and other invertebrates.
They also have a very unique sweet smell which is very much like honey. This scent lures in the hungry predators. Which also is a great disadvantage to their numbers. The first factor in the decline of these beautiful birds was the arrival of humans about a thousand years ago. People in Maori from Polynesia hunted them for food, their skin, and feathers which were woven into luxurious capes. They also used their dried heads as earrings. With their strong scent, flightlessness and their habits of freezing in danger were easy targets for the hunters. The kakapos had become instinct in many parts of the country before Europeans arrived.
In the 1880s, the European settlers cleared huge amounts of land for farming and grazing, further decreasing the numbers of Kakapos. They had also brought predatorial animals with them such as cats, dogs, and rats which killed the birds. Like the Maori, European explorers with their dogs would also feed on Kakapos. It wasn’t until 1845 Europeans knew about these endangered species when George Gray of the Brittish Museum described them from their skin.