You may see some wonderful interaction and behavioral displays between individual kea – whether it be chicks begging for food, preening, play fighting or aggressive displays – it’s all fascinating to watch. At this time of year, adult females who are breeding will be sitting on the nest inside a cavity in the forest, keeping her eggs or chicks warm. The males will be bringing food to the females and the first chicks will be starting to grow more confident, develop their adult feathers through their fluffy down and even start venturing outside the nest cavity from time to time. In December or January, chicks will be fledging and heading up to treeline to learn the skills it needs to survive into adulthood – how to fly, forage and feed. When chicks fledge, they will often be heavier than the adults, especially their mums!
Kea have a large number of unique calls too, from quiet, meek meow-like sounds to loud raucous “keeeaaaa” calls while soaring overhead. Many people have emailed photos in to us showing some wonderful kea interactions so we thought it’d be neat to keep encouraging folks to observe kea behaviour, take photos and videos and observe some of the more unique behaviours taking place at this time of the year.
This photo was taken by Melissa Brussovs who visited Arthur’s Pass in October 2017. Melissa spotted Tuhura, a fledgling from early 2017, yelling at Eva – likely to be his mother. Tuhura and Eva are often spotted together. Tuhura sometimes runs about after her, begging or sits in a submissive squat with his wings spread wide as if he has a broken wing. Don’t be alarmed if you see a kea looking like it has a broken wing – it’s all part of the act! Do, however, be vigilant if the kea looks like it is actually sick or injured – it is more common than you think. We are looking for several sick kea who are showing signs of lead poisoning, and one who is thought to have a broken leg (see Valerie’s profile).