'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Kakapo

Before I leave New Zealand parrots, I'd like to mention our wonderful Kakapo (kar-kar-poor).
Kakapo is a very large parrot, and before humans came to NZ, may have been the most abundant bird in the New Zealand bush.
Its unusual mating call is a deep, distinctive sub-sonic boom that can travel several kilometres. Kakapo is flightless, very rare (there are fewer than 150 left), nocturnal, intelligent, inquisitive and friendly. They are forest-dwelling, with moss-green plumage and have a strong sweet, musky scent - an attribute that in earlier times made them especially easy to track down for food. And also sadly, irresistible to dogs.

In early days, Kakapo were so abundant that bushmen said you could put the pot on and wait for one to walk into the camp. They were so plentiful they were killed by the hundreds and used as dog tucker.

It may be the world's oldest living bird.

Image from Stuff.co.nz

Now, a special programme has slowly increased Kakapo from the low number of 50, back in the 1960's, to about 150 now. They are probably still considered on the brink of extinction. Here are a little group being hand-reared.

What could be cuter than Kakapo chicks?

However, one good thing, as this clip from a BBC film shows, Kakapo males seems still very determined to increase Kakapo numbers. Albeit, in misguided directions.

(Warning: This following clip is rated R 16.)

You can find out the latest Kakapo news on the website of: The Kakapo Recovery Programme


  1. I don't wish to be rude but is that what's meant by "giving head"? It sounds as if the Kakapo Recovery Programme has an uphill battle to fight if they are to keep this splendid bird off the tragic list of extinctions.

  2. They're sweet :) Haven't been able to look at the clip yet. Just in case you're interested, one of my favourite other bloggers from the UK is currently in NZ - I don't suppose her pics will be novel to you, but you never know - http://sarzmountainrun.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. They are adorable - if a little randy!

  4. Please stop giving us pronunciation assistance in phonetic Enzed-ese, Kate! I'm pretty sure Kakapo is not pronounced in such a way that the hearer thinks "automobile-automobile-not-rich" which is what Americans hear with kar-kar-poor. We do pronounce the letter R unless we are from Boston, Massachusetts, in which case we say pok the kah in Hovvid Yod (park the car in Harvard Yard), but the rest of us think we talk funny.

    How you could do it in anything other than Enzed-ese, though, is a mystery.

  5. YP. Yes you do.

    Emily - I think you will laugh during the clip, if you do watch it. I'll check out your blogger friend when I have a mo. Thanks. always nice to meet new blogs :-)

    DBM - they ARE, aren't they! Well, this one is!

    Robert - 'automobile-automobile-not-rich' is pretty much right...

  6. That was a good programme. There is something irritating about the fact that desirable things tend to become extinct and undesirable things (thinking rattlesnakes at this moment) blossom.

  7. The clip is superb. I watched it first hand when it was on the telly box in the corner of the room. Those silly birds!! I've seen some amazing stuff about them on some David Attenborough thing as well..... don't they walk up mountains to sound their "boom" across the valley for mating purposes? With such short legs and low numbers, it would be easy to see why they might therefore be endangered..... you couldn't get through that many mountains in an evening!!

  8. But we would say kaRRRR-kaRRRR-pooh-eRRRRR, with lots of emphases on the RRRR. As in pirate talk: ARRRRGGHHH!

    I fear I am not making myself clear. To get what I mean, you would probably have to watch a Coen brothers' movie, maybe Fargo until your ears hurt.

  9. That's superb! I love the line at the end, "D'you want to have a go?"

  10. Geeb - It often seems that's the way of it. I wonder if things increase in desirability the closer they are to extinction...

    Foxy - I seem to recall the story doing the 'rounds about three years ago. Perhaps they's when it first went to air.
    I didn't know about them walking up mountains to boom. But it makes sense. I thought they made a depression in the ground: turns out we are both right - the 'lek' is often constructed with a back or tree behind to make a (ha ha) 'Boom box' that will reflect the courting call long distances.

    Robert... I've watched 'Brother where Art Thou?' It was hillarious, but there were no CarCarPoors in it. Joking aside, I think I get what you mean. You're saying I'm underestimating how much 'R' some Americans would put on my translations... I'll just have to revisit the States and remind myself. Or watch sitcom re-runs. (I do watch 'Mad Men'. WIll that do?)

    EB - I missed that last line! Hahahahahaha!

  11. They're cute! I love their green... just cute!

  12. RebelKween - they look more like a fluffy toy than a bird, don't they?