|Kaka Fact Sheet
Name: Nestor meridionalis – Kaka
They have a strong bill that can open the tough cone of the Kauri to obtain seeds. They also use their bill as a ‘third leg’ to assist them when climbing trees to reach food.
They make extensive use of their feet to hold food and to hand from branches to reach fruit and flowers.
They have brush tongue to take nectar from flowers.
What does it eat?
Predator or prey
They are preyed upon by introduced species such as stoats, rats and possums. They will eat both eggs and chicks of the Kaka. Nesting females are vulnerable to stoat attacks resulting in more males than females.
The Kaka competes for food with species such as the possum which eat endemic mistletoe and rata. These are some of the main food sources for the Kaka. Introduced wasps compete for honeydew (excreted by a scale insect) from beech trees. This is an important energy source for Kaka.
Eggs take 3 weeks to incubate with nestlings remaining in the nest for two months. Young birds leave the nest before they can fly which leaves them vulnerable to predators
Is it a Pollinator?
The forest-dwelling Kaka and the high country Kea are thought to be closely related. It is thought that their common ancestor (called the protokaka) came to NZ with the break-up of Gondwana. At this time there was one land mass and the birds spread throughout NZ. During the ice age birds inhabiting what was then the North Island land mass continued to evolve as forest dwellers and became the Kaka. Around 5 million years ago, early in the Pliocene, the Southern Alps began to develop. The colder climate caused the forests to retreat. Here the protokaka evolved into an alpine dwelling bird, the Kea. As the ice retreated and the South Island again became forested the Kaka migrated into these forests. Where the Kaka and Kea came together in the South Island they were sufficiently different to remain full species.