The Kakapo


With less than 50 birds known to exist in the wild, the kakapo is one of New Zealand's rarest endemic birds. Also called the Owl Parrot because of its facial disc of owl-like whiskers, it is the largest of all parrots by weight.

The Kakapo mates using what is known as the lek-mating system. This involves elaborate and intriguing courtship behaviour where the male will excavate shallow depressions or 'bowls' linked by tracks. From here, the pair perform a variety of displays and emit a booming call.

Nocturnal, ground-nesting and totally flightless, the kakapo is an extremely vulnerable bird. It is shy and secretive and with mottled moss-green plumage, it relies on its natural camouflage for protection. However, when needed, the kakapo can run with surprising speed.
Many pressures that have forced the kakapo to near-extinction with introduced predatory mammals such as stoats, rats and feral cats causing the greatest decline in kakapo numbers. Their long-term future relies on relocation to suitable islands where predators are absent.

Information sheet accompanying the 1986 New Zealand Proof Set - New Zealand Treasury, 1986.

The Kakapo is featured on the following New Zealand coin:

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