The Vicious Predatory Parrots Of New Zealand

” ‘Ello, Polly! I’ve got a nice cuttlefish for you when you wake up, Polly Parrot!” —Monty Python’s Flying Circus

In A Nutshell

Parrots are known for being brightly colored, often cheerful, fruit and nut eaters. However, there are always exceptions in the natural world, and few are more foreign to human imagination than the idea of a predatory parrot. New Zealand’s Keas rip meat off a range of species, while deceptively cute Antipodes Island parakeets like to dismember seabirds.

The Whole Bushel

Parrots form a fascinating order of terrestrial birds inhabiting almost every tropical location worldwide, and a few temperate zones as well. Usually, parrots feed on natural forest foods, or the stereotypical cracker offered by a human companion.

For two species, however, vegetarian fare just won’t cut it. In the Antipodes Islands off New Zealand, beautiful, bright green Antipodes parakeets live on the ground, harboring a dark secret. Nesting storm petrels, tiny relatives of the albatross lay their eggs in burrows. The parakeet enters these burrows and uses its razor-sharp, fiercely hooked beak to crack open and dismember seabirds with truly raptorial ferocity. Carrion is also eaten, vulture fashion.

On New Zealand’s South Island, the somewhat hawk-like kea soars in the cold mountains and has been known to tear pieces out of still-living sheep. It is known that diseased or sickly sheep are only very rare victims of the gruesome tactics of this amazing and endangered parrot that ekes out a living in the mountains.

These two death parrots are remarkable and well-adapted birds and deserve the same level of protection given to other parrots worldwide, especially since the kea became endangered. Ironically, occasional attacks on sheep may stem from human extermination of their natural prey, such as the flightless goose.

Show Me The Proof

Antipodes Islands—Birds
Grey-backed storm petrel—Threats and conservation
Story: Birds of open country

  • Phil_42

    A remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue…

  • Hillyard

    Interesting, I’d read this somewhere else but still a good Nut.

    • Bored

      Thanks for sharing you reading habits.

      • Only those with no imagination are capable of being bored.

  • pepper

    Lol, the keas are not usually that bad, the only reputation they have in newzealand is that are proned to ripping off the rubber from around your windscreen or your car aerial, or anything really at all they can get off, so in other words make sure you’ve got insurance if you are heading up to the ski fields! They are actually cute and clever little birds.

  • Profworm

    I’m guessing they must be relatives of the kaka, in some way. When I first saw the picture I thought that’s what it was.

  • Bored

    “These two death parrots” doesn’t make any sense. Try “These two death-parrots” instead.

  • Bored

    People use nets over their cars in some NZ ski fields to protect them from Kea-related vandalism. It’s an odd sight.

  • Alskiz

    The correct term is ‘kea’ not ‘keas’. It’s like sheep, you don’t add an extra ‘s’.

  • rhijulbec

    Interesting, thank you. The responders who see these birds are interesting as well. They steal rubber? lol

  • Timone

    Screw crackers, Polly wants some meat!

  • Goffer

    Expected. Ok nice Gofor another without these parrots can make sense I think.