Kakapo ate & ate, grew & grew. Their soft feathers ripened into a sweet smell, until they became the largest parrot on earth. Flying was over! Wings were now to break their fall as they leapt, or for balance as they landed and ran. So now, walking on stout legs, they made tracks to feeding grounds and bowls.
They were parrots of the night. Sitting inside a bowl of earth, inflated into a feather balloon, the male sent out a love-call. Booming down and across the valleys. Oooom! Oooom! Oooom!
If a female arrived, he began to dance. Spreading out his wings like a moth, he waved them slowly. Clicking his beak, he swayed from one foot to another. Approaching her forwards, approaching her backwards.
Playing, delighting, inviting. A more fun pet than a cat or a dog (so it was said!)
It’s a big job raising kakapo chicks (100+ days). So as get enough food, she only lays her eggs when the podocarp trees or the tussocks are heavy with fruit. She has to do it all on her own – he isn’t any help. He’s too worn out – from that all-night booming!
Because kakapo lived long lives (maybe 100+ years) there were always plenty around. Once when you shook a tree in the daytime, sleepy kakapo rained down on the ground! That was when their only hunter was hokioi, the giant eagle.
But by 1995 they were called the living dead. Only 51 birds were left. And by 1999, they were all gone from the mainland. Now they only survive, where humans have put them, on 2 predator free islands: Codfish & Anchor.
Our scientists have fought for every last one. Every nest, every egg, every nestling. Guarding them day and night.
All because now they are hunted by cat, stoat and ferret. Their eggs are even small enough to be easily opened by kiore.
It’s strange, but big kakapo (male 2.5kg, female 2kg) don’t know how to fight back – unless (of course) it is the males fighting each other! Their camouflage colours don’t hide them, and their sound and strong scent gave them away.
Kakapo lived here for millions of years. One day – we dream – they will return to the mainland. That they will be safe here, once more, to eat & eat, grow & grow.
In the game, Cloak of Protection, kakapo is one of the birds you need to make a cloak of forest feathers. But – watch out – hokioi, kiore, ferret, cat and stoat stalk them.