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Scientifically: Nestor notabilis. The world's only mountain-dwelling parrot, endemic to New Zealand. The name is pronounced "kee-yah", and mimics the bird's distinctive cry.

Keas are very intelligent and very curious. This makes them highly entertaining, or highly annoying, depending on your perspective, and especially on the cost of the possession of yours that they are currently destroying. For example, a favourite kea past-time at ski-fields is to strip the rubber lining from around the windows of your car. Boots left outside tramping huts at altitude will often be found in the morning in a number of pieces. Keas have beaks like titanium tin-openers.

Most New Zealanders know a kea story or two. Some of the stories may even be true. One of the best ones tells of a couple of trampers who were holed up in a hut one very cold night out in the Southern Alps. Even if apocryphal, the story conveys the remarkable resourcefulness of the kea...

The trampers were awakened in the wee small hours by a continuous scraping noise. Stepping outside to investigate, they found that a kea was amusing itself by using the sloping corrugated tin roof of the hut as a fun-fare slide. They tried to scare it away by shouting at it, but the kea just ignored them. Going back into the hut, they tried banging on the roof of the hut from the inside with a broom handle every time the kea slid down the roof. This worked temporarily. The scraping would cease while the kea hung upside-down from the edge of the roof with its claws to look in the window to see what was causing the noise; when it couldn't see anything of interest (they had put the broom down), it returned to the game. Finally, after many rounds of banging and hanging, the kea gave up and flew away. Or so the trampers thought. An hour or so later, the scraping began anew. They once again tried the banging technique, and were somewhat disturbed to find that the scraping continued unabated. Looking out the window, they saw a kea hanging from the roof-edge -- while the scraping continued on the roof. The kea had brought along an accomplice so he could find out what was causing the banging.

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