duckster wrote in post #19222610
Cool looking bird. Thanks for the information about the species too.
Thank you for commenting!
They gained some notoriety when sheep farmers let their flocks enter the remote high country, the domain of the Kea. The birds discovered that they could sit on the sheep's back and bite down into them, exposing their fatty layers and even their liver. Sheep died or were injured. Of course the farmers blamed the Keas and put a bounty on them, resulting in the killing of hundreds of thousands of them. The government put a stop to that about 40 years ago and their population is returning slowly. The behaviour is believed to be because their natural prey: the Moa, a huge bird, like an Emu, but much larger and heavier, was exterminated by humans. Basically we killed off their natural prey and offered them an alternative.
These days they love to hang around hiking huts and ski areas, as they offer rich pickings from discarded food or are offered some by humans keen to get closer. They are very picky eaters though, going for high energy foods. I have seen them empty an insecurely covered trash bin, throwing out the stuff they don't want until they get to their preferred items.
This is a photo of a Kea pursuing a ranger, intent of pecking his shoe laces. As we were talking the poor ranger had to keep moving around to discourage the Kea, but it pursued him with dogged determination. It is an unwise hiker who leaves a pack or boots out in the open - the packs will be unzipped or untied, or snipped open, and laces shredded - it's very challenging to walk in boots without laces! Having learned from others' misfortune, I always keep a spare pair with me now.