Kea

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The Kea (pronounced /ˈkeɪ.ə/; Māori: [kɛ.a]) (Nestor notabilis) is a large species of parrot (family Strigopidae) found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. Measuring around 48 cm (19 in) in length, it is mostly olive-green and has a large narrow curved grey-brown upper beak. The Kea is one of the few alpine parrots in the world. Its omnivorous diet includes carrion[2] but consists mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar, and insects. Now uncommon, the Kea was once killed for bounty as it preyed on livestock, especially sheep. It only received full protection in 1986.[3]

The Kea nests in burrows or crevices among the roots of trees. Kea are known for their intelligence and curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment. Kea can solve logical puzzles, such as pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get to food, and will work together to achieve a certain objective.[4]

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Taxonomy and naming

The Kea was described by ornithologist John Gould in 1856.[5] Its specific epithet, the Latin term notabilis, means "noteworthy".[6] The common name is from Māori, probably representing the screech of the bird.[7] The term Kea is both singular and plural.

The genus Nestor contains four species: the New Zealand Kaka (Nestor meridionalis), the Kea (N. notabilis), and the extinct Norfolk Island Kākā (N. productus) and Chatham Island Kākā (N. sp.). All four are thought to stem from a "proto-Kākā", dwelling in the forests of New Zealand five million years ago.[8][9] Their closest relative is the Kākāpō (Strigops habroptila).[8][9][10][11] Together, they form the parrot family Strigopidae, an ancient group that split off from all other Psittacidae before their radiation.[8][9][11][12]

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