New Zealand Kaka parrot

New Zealand Kaka

Nestor meridionalis Scientific name definitions

  • EN Endangered
  • Names (14)
  • Subspecies (2)


45 cm; average 550 g. Forehead to nape whitish, lightly edged buff; face brown with broad pinkish flecks that become yellow on ear-coverts; colors of head shade to olive-grey on the nape and dull rust-red, lightly scaled black, on the upper mantle, latter color extending onto the lower neck, flanks, belly, undertail-coverts, rump, and upper tail-coverts; throat and breast, lower mantle, upper back, and wings scaled brownish grey. Female has the shorter and less curved bill. Immature similar to adult with pale eye-ring. Race septentrionalis  duller, darker and smaller.

Systematics History

Editor’s Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.Probably closest to †N. productus, formerly of Norfolk I and nearby Phillip I (became extinct in mid-19th century). Two subspecies recognized.



Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis Scientific name definitions

N. m. septentrionalis


North I and some offshore islands.


Nestor meridionalis meridionalis Scientific name definitions

N. m. meridionalis+1


South I, Stewart I and larger offshore islands.


Editor’s Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the ‘Subspecies’ article above. In the future we will develop a range-wide distribution article.


Remaining  areas of lowland and mid-altitude native forest.


Birds are partly nomadic, sometimes appearing in areas from which they have been absent for some time. In winter birds appear to wander into more open country.

Diet and Foraging

Fruits, including Podocarpus ferrugineusBeilschmiedia tarairi, berries, seeds (notably of Agathis australis), flowers  , buds, nectar and invertebrates. Sap of Pseudopanax colensoiGriselinia littoralisNothofagus solandriMetrosideros umbellata and, on Stewart I, Dacrydium cupressinum important in winter, along with winter-flowering puriri (Vitex lucens) and kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile).

Birds reintroduced in Wellington City take sap also from trees in parks, particularly exotic conifers as Cupressus macrocarpaChamaecyparis lawsoniana and Cryptomeria japonica

Honeydew from the scale insect Ultracoelostoma assimile is critically important in Nothofagus forest in summer and autumn, while larvae of the longhorn beetle Ochrocydus huttoni are protein-rich but expensive in energy to obtain. Recorded feeding in kiwifruit orchard, Sept, and on flax flowers, Jan.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

The commonest call, typically given in flight, is a very harsh grating  “krraah” or “ka-rah”  repeated at intervals. When perched, similar harsh calls are mixed with a variety of loud, musical yodelling whistles.


Sept–Mar. Nest  in large hollow  in limb or trunk, also in hollow base of cabbage tree; on Kapiti commonly below 3 m, and the preferred trees being Melicytus ramiflorus and Dysoxylum spectabile. Clutch 1–8 (usually 3–5); eggs   white, slightly oval, surface tending to be slightly rough, 41·5 mm × 31·5 mm on average (n = 12); incubation c. 3 weeks, only by female; hatching success varies from 39–66% between sites, but also between breeding seasons at each site, in part due to the level of control of introduced predatory mammals; nestlings   are covered in white down at hatching and develop a dense covering of grey down when 11–20 days old; nestling period c. 70 days; proportion of eggs that produce fledglings varies from 19–53% between sites, depending on level of control of predatory mammals. Young dependent on food provision by parents for 4–5 months. 

Conservation Status

ENDANGERED. CITES II. Previously listed as Vulnerable. The species has suffered chronic decline owing to habitat clearance, and mainland populations face further declines owing to predation by introduced stoats and rats, competition for honeydew from introduced wasps and possums (which appears to have a disastrous impact on breeding performance), and continuing habitat clearance. Its numbers remain high only on offshore islands  such as Little Barrier, Codfish and Kapiti.


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