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Nestorinae: Nestor Parrots aka Kaka aka New Zealand Kaka

A pair of Kakas being affectionate

South Island Kākā on Stewart Island/Rakiura, showing red breast feathers The Kākā, Nestor meridionalis, is a parrot native to the forests of New Zealand.

It lives in the lowland and mid-altitude forest. Its strongholds are currently the offshore reserves of Kapiti Island, Codfish Island and Hauturu/Little Barrier Island.

There are two subspecies:

  • the North Island Kākā, Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis, and
  • the South Island Kākā, N. m. meridionalis.

The name Kākā comes from the Māori language but the name kaka is also the general Polynesian word for a parrot.

North Island Kaka

Kaka holding its food with its foot


The Kākā is a medium sized parrot, around 45 cm in length and weighing about 550 g, and is closely related to the Kea, but has darker plumage and is more arboreal.

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.

Diet / Feeding:

The Kākā feeds on fruits, berries, seeds, flowers, buds, nectar and invertebrates (i.e., insects). It has a brush tongue with which it feeds on nectar, and it uses its strong beak to dig out the grubs of the longhorn beetle.


The Kākā is considered vulnerable (CITES II). It has greatly declined, in part from habitat loss, in part because of introduced wasps and possums, which compete with the Kākā for honeydew, which is excreted by scale insects.Research has shown that this honeydew is very important for breeding birds, especially those breeding in southern beech forests.The difficult nature of controlling the wasps makes the Kākā's future very uncertain. A closely related species, Nestor productus, the Norfolk Island Kākā, became extinct in 1851.

Copyright: Wikipedia. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from ... Additional information and photos added by Avianweb.

Kaka by Duncan Wright


Scientific: Nestor meridionalis meridionalis ... English: Kaka ... Dutch: Kaka ... German: Kaka ... French: Kaka, Nestor Méridional, Nestor bruntre du Sud


Greenish-brown; forehead, crown and nape greyish-white, sometimes feathers tipped dull green; neck and abdomen brownish-red, hind-neck more crimson and with yellow and dark-brown margins; breast olive-brown; ear-coverts orange-yellow; rump, upper and under tail-coverts red edged with dark-brown; under wing-coverts and undersides of flight feathers crimson; tail brown with pale tips; iris dark-brown; feet dark grey; bill brownish-grey.

Female has shorter and less curved bill.

Immatures as adult, but with yellowish base to the lower beak.

Length: 46 cm (18 ins) (wing 265 mm - 305 mm or 10.4 - 12.3 ins)


South and Stewart Island, larger offshore islands ... CITES II - Endangered


Northern Kaka / Northern Nestor:

Species: Scientific: Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis ... English: Northern Kaka, Northern Nestor ... Dutch: Noordelijke Kaka ... German: Nördlicher Kaka ... French: Nestor bruntre de Nord

Description: Plumage variable; forehead, crown and nape brownish-grey to brown; lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird's head), cheeks and ear-coverts are yellow to orange, sometimes with reddish tinge; throat and upper breast greyish-brown to orange-yellow; lower breast yellow or orange-yellow; abdomen, thighs and under tail-coverts vary from dark orange to dull red; marked with greyish-brown; sometimes greenish-yellow band runs across greyish-brown hindneck; back dark ash-brown; wings brown with dull green tinge to coverts; rump and upper tail-coverts dark orange to dull red, each feather tipped greyish-brown; under tail-coverts dull yellow; tail brown; inner webs of outer tail-feathers marked yellow to orange; iris dark brown; feet olive-brown; long curved bill brownish-grey.

Immatures as adults, but with olive-brown breast.

Length: 38 cm (15 ins)

CITES II - Endangered ... Distribution: Norfolk and Philip Islands

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