A Conversation for Kea

the kea

Post 1

lena

I've just seen a feature about the keas a few days ago. They really are very intelligent, aren't they. In this feature they showed film material showing some keas killing a sheep. Do you know about that?
Lena


keas and sheep

Post 2

tokoeka

Yes, I do... Unfortunately, the kea's intelligence has led it to discover that a very easy way of getting good food in the winter is to attack sheep -- they land on the back of the sheep and quite literally "dig in" with their beak. The sheep can't do a damn thing about it. Obviously not very nice for the sheep, and the farmers whose sheep were attacked were furious, and began shooting keas whenever they could. For a long time, the farmers were claiming that keas were doing this, but they had no proof that it WAS keas, so a lot of people refused to believe it, and were consequently very angry at the farmers for shooting keas. However, as you've seen, there is now proof that indeed some keas use sheep as their equivalent of 'fast food'.

So the farmers in those areas now regard keas as the enemy, which is unfortunate, since the birds are only taking advantage of what is, from their perspective, just another food source.

If you're interested in keas, I can recommend a couple of books to you. Both are by NZ writer Philip Temple, and are actually novels about keas, from the perspective of keas. I've actually only read the first, but it was excellent so I'm guessing the sequel is as good. "Beak of the Moon" and the sequel "Dark of the Moon".


keas and sheep

Post 3

lena

Hi Tokoeka !

I think you're right. It's not a good idea to kill the keas. They really just use another food source. And it was mankind who claimed more and more of the keas' habitat. So now they have to live in the mountains and if they don't want to starve in the winter time they have to take what they can get. I think mostly this will be things man brings in their areas - like the dumping grounds and of course the sheep.
So maybe people shouldn't shoot the keas but try to give them back more areas of their former habitat. What do you think ?

Lena


keas and sheep

Post 4

tokoeka

Well yes, the problem is that farmers have encroached onto the keas' habitat, so of course the keas will take advantage of the sheep as a food source. Though bear in mind that it's not that the keas have really been "forced to live in the mountains" -- I think they always did live there, the kea is the world's only "mountain parrot". It's more that people have just started to use some of that land for farming. Keas (like rats, squirrels, etc) are very able to adapt their behaviour to take advantage of new conditions, and that's exactly what they're doing when they attack sheep. If the farmers don't want their sheep attacked, then it's not really fair to kill the keas -- they just have to move their sheep to lower ground!


keas and sheep

Post 5

lena

Hi Tokoeka !

You're right with the "mountain parrot" - I've just forgotten it.Oh, and I think your idea that the farmers should move their sheep to a lower ground is a really good one. But...well, I doubt that they will do so. Or what do you think ?

Lena


keas and sheep

Post 6

tokoeka

No, I doubt they will -- unless the kea problem gets really bad. I don't know how bad it is, whether the attacks are regular or just occasional. Maybe I will have to find out a bit more about this when I go home... as an H2G2 researcher I ought to try to keep myself informed...


keas and sheep

Post 7

lena

Hi Tokoeka !

Well, I also don't know how big the kea-problem really is.
But it would be great if you could find out more about that - and you're right: It is you duty as an h2g2 researcher to do so.

And just one little question which I wanted to ask you before but didn't do because I read your homepage (mystery and so on)...But know I will do it: Are you from New Zealand ? It must be a great country. When I was going to school, I thought about spending a year there. But at last I didn't.

Lena


keas and sheep

Post 8

tokoeka

Yes, I am from New Zealand. (There now, you've forced me to abandon my cover! Well, it was bound to happen when I started writing about keas I suppose...) And I'm going back there next week, for the first time in a couple of years.


keas and sheep

Post 9

lena

Hi Tokoeka !

Well, actually it wasn't that you wrote about keas..It was your username. It sounds a bit like a maori word. And probably I'm totally wrong about that.
Do you go back there forever (or nearly) or only for holiday ? (If I'm too curious...just tell me !)

Lena


keas and sheep

Post 10

tokoeka

OK, I give in.... this conversation will be a lot easier via email than on here. Plus, in one day from now I will no longer be logging on to h2g2, until I get back in late August. I am going home to NZ for a holiday for 2 months. So, if you like, email me at [email protected] -- and I will answer any questions you want to ask!


keas and sheep

Post 11

lena

OK. I'll do that.

Lena


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