New Zealand kaka, aka kākā, (Nestor meridionalis)


The New Zealand kaka, also known as kākā, (Nestor meridionalis) is a New Zealand parrot endemic to the native forests of New Zealand.

Medium sized parrot, measuring 45 cm (18 in) in length and weighing from 390 to 560 g (14 to 20 oz), with an average of 452 g (0.996 lb). It is closely related to the Kea, but has darker plumage and is more arboreal. The forehead and crown are greyish-white and the nape is greyish-brown. The neck and abdomen are more reddish, while the wings are more brownish. Both sub-species have a strongly patterned brown/green/grey plumage with orange and scarlet flashes under the wings; color variants which show red to yellow coloration especially on the breast are sometimes found.

This group of parrots is unusual, retaining more primitive features lost in most other parrots, because it split off from the rest around 100 million years ago.

The calls include a harsh ka-aa and a whistling u-wiia.

They live in lowland and mid-altitude native forest. Its strongholds are currently the offshore reserves of Kapiti Island, Codfish Island and Little Barrier Island. It is breeding rapidly in the mainland island sanctuary at Zealandia (Karori Wildlife Sanctuary), with over 300 birds banded since their reintroduction in 2002.

They are mainly arboreal and occupy mid to high canopy. Often seen flying across valleys or calling from the top of emergent trees. They are very gregarious and move in large flocks often containing Kea where present.

They eat fruits, berries, seeds, flowers, buds, nectar, sap, plants and invertebrates. It uses its strong beak to shred the cones of the kauri tree to obtain the seeds. It has a brush tongue with which it feeds on nectar, and it uses its strong beak to dig out the grubs of the huhu beetle and to remove bark to feed on sap.

They make their nests in hollow trees, laying clutches of 2 to 4 eggs in late winter. Both parents assist in feeding the chicks. In a good fruiting year pairs can double clutch often utilizing the same nest hole for the second clutch. It is unusual for a pair to raise more than three chicks in a clutch.


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New Zealand kaka, aka kākā, (Nestor meridionalis)

Preening New Zealand kaka, aka kākā, (Nestor meridionalis)


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