The Kea Parrot

If you are day sleeper or night “owl”, this bird may be the perfect companion for you as they are semi-nocturnal. In captivity they are known to be most active during dark or stormy weather in addition to nighttime hours. The entertaining Kea is a parrot that is loved by most and disliked by some.

These lovely birds have entertaining habits, though they have known to be destructive as a result of their inquisitive and playful natures. They require many chew toys and puzzle toys to keep them out of mischief, they are curious and can be destructive if not properly supervised and occupied. They are hardy little fellows hailing from the New Zealand Alps. While drafts are still a bane as with any other caged bird, lower temperatures do not faze them in the least.

They grow to about 19 inches in length and are chattery noisy but; not raucous. The cry of the Kea, as generally heard in the early morning, has been aptly compared to the mewing of a cat; but it likewise utters a whistle, a chuckle, and a suppressed scream.

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The Kea does not walk like other parrots, it hops and usually in a sideways fashion to the delight of their admirers. Their adult plumage is acquired at about 18 months of age, and females can be distinguished from males by their beaks, which are often less sharply curved and shorter than those of males. The beaks are brownish gray.

The Kea’s plumage is an olive green shade, and each feather has a black edging. Over the yellowish green colored crown and nape, the feathers have dark striping. The cage should about 3 feet high, 2 feet across, and 18 inches deep. So that they have lots of room to move about in. Usually an earth or sand covered floor is appropriate. Plenty of hiding places should be provided. A supply of fresh branches should also be present for chewing. In captivity, a Kea’s diet can usually be made up of fruits and vegetables with carbohydrate and protein supplements.

Keas are known for their ready acceptance of most foods. Often maize and brown rice can be cooked and offered as a meal. Soaked pigeon feed, peanuts, hemp, and sunflower seeds have also been offered with good results. Vegetables, a large portion of the diet, can be offered in the form of carrots, potatoes, cabbages, greens, and beets. A variety of fruits are accepted: oranges, berries, and passion fruits to name a few.

In the wild, they are omnivorous and relish lamb and mutton. Offering them cooked pieces of meat of all types will provide them with needed protein. While they dine on fresh meat in the wild, it should be cooked for caged birds to prevent parasites and any infection. (Jan Santor)