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Kakapo: A Chirp of Parrot and Owl

Pruthvi Guduru

The centaur is a hybrid of man and horse. The Ammit is a hybrid of hippopotamus, crocodile, and lion. The Kakapo Bird is a hybrid of parrot and owl. The Hatuibwari is a hybrid of human, bat, and serpent. Out of all of the creatures listed, only one of them actually exists, the Kakapo Bird. While the Kakapo Bird does not breathe fire or have massive horns that spurt out from its small head, the bird is still a magnificent creature which unfortunately, as of 1894, is endangered.

The Kakapo Bird, or Strigops habroptilus, is a herbivorous bird that is native to New Zealand, Australia. The Kakapo eats seeds, fruits, pollen, and obviously, plants. The Bird is nocturnal, yet flightless, which means that the bird is vulnerable to predators, such as: cats, rats, stoats, and humans. However, just because the Kakapo is flightless, the Kakapo does have tactics for survival, as Kakapos have powerful legs that are able to climb to the top of the tallest trees in order to outrun predators. Another tactic is that whenever a Kakapo feels threatened, it usually freezes up and stops moving. As of now, there are a reported 252 Kakapo Birds, both adult and adolescent, that are alive in the world. Despite being critically endangered, Kakapos have an average life expectancy of about 50 to 90 years, which is much longer than many birds around the world.

In order to know more about the Kakapo, we must gain knowledge about New Zealand, home of the Maori Tribe. New Zealand is an island country in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. The island is about 1,600 kilometers long and about 450 kilometers wide. New Zemaland is mostly filled with mountains, lakes, and nutrient-deficient soil. New Zealand is also a part of the Ring of Fire, which is a seismic belt in the Pacific Ocean that has recurring earthquakes and volcanic activity. New Zealand is split into two islands, the North and South Islands. The South Island usually receives more precipitation than the North Island and is also larger, whereas the North Island is more subtropical. The North Island has landmarks such as: Bay of Islands, Pohutu Geyser, Mount Taranaki, and the Hobbiton movie set from Lord of the Rings. The South Island has sights such as: the Southern Alps, Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Wakatipu, and Aoraki, the largest mountain in New Zealand. The areas near mountain ranges are almost always cold and snowy.

Now, back to the Kakapo. Whenever analyzing and conducting research on a living organism, it is also important to know the physiology and anatomy of the living organism and its many parts. Kakapo Birds usually weigh about 13 pounds and are usually 25 inches long. The noticeable parts of the bird are its green and brown feathers, whiskers, long and round tail, big beak, and forward-facing eyes. Like most nocturnal birds, Kakapos have large eyes and pupils that expand when it comes in contact with low light levels. As a result of not having a lot of predators, the Kakapo has small wings that render the bird flightless, however the bird will use its wings to safely glide to the ground, like a parachute. The bird will also use its wings to maintain balance when walking or running. In order to properly walk or run, the bird has strong feet and legs that help hold its weight. Another part of the Kakapo lifestyle is reproduction. Between December and March, male Kakapos will leave their native homes and establish mating areas, or leks, in hilly areas with little vegetation. Once a male kakapo and a female kakapo notice each other, the courtship ritual will begin. The male kakapo will inflate his chest outward, bob his head up and down, make a very loud sound that can be heard from half a mile, and then do a little dance. After the mating process, the male will leave the lek, and the female kakapo will build the nest and carry and secure the eggs. The mother will then lay a few eggs, and then leave the nest. After 30 days, the chicks will hatch and will have to fend for themselves. If the chicks manage to survive, they will leave the nest after 3 to 4 months and start growing their feathers, and the circle of life continues.

As mentioned earlier, the Kakapo is endangered, however, there are restoration effects that are being used to save these precious creatures. In 1995, the Department of Conservation created the Kakapo Recovery Programme, as a result of about 51 Kakapos being alive at the time. Other programs were ones that transported some of the Kakapos to 5 sanctuary islands that have no predators on it, allowing the slowly-growing Kakapo population to increase. At the University of Glasgow, there are developments toward creating a dietary supplement that will increase egg production. Overall, the Kakapo is a fascinating creature, or rather one of the most fascinating creatures in the world, that must not be lost to time.



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