The kākāpō is a native bird species in New Zealand and the world’s largest and heaviest parrot, growing to around 60 centimeters high and weighing up to 4 kilograms. These magnificent birds sport bright green plumage and possess almost clownlike feet. The bird's most distinctive feature is its face, which has large, expressive eyes and distinctive facial disc feathers resembling those of an owl, this is why they're also known as the "owl parrot".
Unlike most parrots, which are diurnal (active during the day), kākāpō are primarily nocturnal. They have adapted to a life of darkness, using their excellent vision and acute hearing to navigate their forest habitat at night. Kākāpō are known for their distinctive booming calls, which they use to communicate and establish their territories during the breeding season.
They have one of the longest lifespans among bird species, with individuals often living up to 60 years or more. This extended lifespan is attributed to their slow reproductive rate and the absence of natural predators in their native habitat, which allows them to focus on survival rather than rapid reproduction.
Kākāpō is one of the world's rarest birds and is critically endangered. At its lowest point in the 1990s, the Kakapo population dwindled to only 51 individuals. Now, the kākāpō is only found within conservation efforts and on Codfish Island. Codfish Island is a predator-free sanctuary that lies to the west of Stewart Island. Whilst they are no longer found on the mainland, there are hopes to reintroduce them eventually and thanks to intensive conservation efforts, including predator control, habitat restoration, and a dedicated breeding program, the population has slowly increased to around 200 birds as of 2021.
Read more on the kākāpō here.