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Kea Bird in New Zealand 2024-2025

Curious kea parrots develop ​taste for everything new to diversify their regular diet of plants and berries. It does not matter that they already have wings, they would still sip from your can of Red Bull

Best time: July–January

Kea Bird
Kea Bird
Kea Bird
Kea Bird

Endemic to New Zealand extremely intelligent Kea parrots strike with their boldness, curiosity and playfulness. Although their regular diet consists of plants and berries, they also enjoy insects and larvae, and not only. These birds are keen on trying something new: they would eat your hamburger and wash it down with beer or a can of Red Bull. If you let them to your dinner table, they will pick​ from each plate and sip from every cup and after the meal, ​all the dishes will surely be kicked over.

The entertainments are not over at this point: after the dinner, it is time to play with car antennas and taste the rubber on car's windows. Keas are notorious for stealing windscreen wipers. Do not expect to scare off a kea parrot, these birds are surprisingly daring. In spite of their hooliganism, they seem to have knightly manners as they warn about their attacks with the harsh "keeaa​" cries. If you want to get well on with kea parrots, you are advised to observe them during their breeding season which lasts between July and January, as then they must be preoccupied with their chicks.

You may find keas' nests among boulders in the forests marked with high altitudes in the alpine environment. A popular watching site is at the Arthur's Path. To get there you can go on a Christchurch tour by TranzAlpine train or Guided Walk.

The dark-green and brown plumage with small red patches mostly underneath the wings is not particularly outstanding, but you will quickly recognise the parrot by its highly social behaviour​. By the way, kea parrots are not particularly numerous. Their wild​ population counts from 1,000 to 5,000 birds.

Practical info

When can you observe kea parrots in their natural habitat in New Zealand?

Kea parrots can be observed in their natural habitat in New Zealand during their breeding season from July to January. This is the best time to see the birds as they are busy with caring for their chicks, making them easier to observe. It is also possible to witness their playful and daring behavior at this time as they are more active during breeding season. Show more

Which national park is a recommended location to see kea parrots in New Zealand?

Arthur's Pass National Park is one of the best locations in New Zealand to observe kea parrots. The park is situated in the Southern Alps, which is the natural habitat of kea parrots, providing ample opportunities to observe them in the wild. Visitors can conveniently access the area via TranzAlpine train and guided tours. Show more

What unique abilities do kea parrots possess?

Kea parrots possess remarkable cognitive abilities, comparable to primates. They are adept at problem-solving, using tools to access food, and have a curious and social nature which enables them to interact with humans. Kea parrots also have the ability to understand and respond to human expressions and emotions. These abilities make them one of the most intelligent bird species. Show more

Apart from plants and berries, what other items make up the diet of kea parrots?

Kea parrots are opportunistic feeders and not limited to plants and berries. Insects, beetle larvae, and carrion are also part of their diet, making it versatile. Kea parrots are also known for their love for human food items such as sandwiches, hamburgers, and energy drinks due to their interactions with humans. Show more

How do kea parrots behave around humans?

Kea parrots have a social, playful, and curious character that makes them interact with humans. They are known for their cheeky antics such as stealing food items or damaging cars. Their warning system, which includes a harsh 'keeaa' cry, makes them endearing to humans. People are advised to observe the birds during breeding seasons when they are occupied with their chicks and are less aggressive towards humans. Show more

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