Reader photos: keas

January 20, 2012 • 6:54 am

Perhaps inspired by the post I did last week on the keas of New Zealand, reader Derek contributes his own photos of keas:

I enclose a couple of photos of a kea taken near the entrance to the Homer Tunnel. The tunnel is on the road to Milford Sound and is single lane, so we were waiting for our turn to travel to Milford. This bird was clearly very accustomed to humans, and fearless around them – I expect handouts were a feature of his diet.

14 thoughts on “Reader photos: keas

  1. I’m not sure about nutritional value, but keas are known for their fondness of ripping apart the rubber fixtures on cars with their ‘pickax’ beaks. The post about ‘kea’ insurance is appropriate.

  2. A couple more:

    The little guys let us walk right up to them. I got frame-filling photos with an 85mm lens.

    Arthur’s Pass National Park, near the top of Avalanche Peak. This was in January (high summer).

    1. And:


      85mm lens on Kodachrome 64 35mm.

      And, if no one has mentioned it, their name is onomatopoeic: Their calls sounds just like a raucus shout of “kea!” (“kee-ah”)

      1. I did, at length, at the bottom of the other thread, and not “kee-ah” but “care” without an R-sound, because most New Zealand birds (unsurprsingly) say their own Māori names like a native speaker.

  3. I’ve seen keas there, I suspect they hang around that spot knowing there will be a queue of cars from which they can extort biscuits.

    They are inquisitive and playful birds, fascinated by shiny objects or anything they can unscrew or break off. I have heard of one letting car tyres down, apparently intigued by the blast of air it got out of the valve when poked with its beak. Reminiscent of the skating corvid of last week, I have also read of keas sliding down the sloping iron roofs of huts, apparently for amusement. I do recall, quite a while ago, seeing keas in Auckland Zoo log-rolling – they were rolling a log, maybe 3″ across and a foot long, backwards and forwards across the floor. It was probably too heavy for any one kea to shift, but they were operating as a gang of three or four.

    There’s an example here (if wordpress doesn’t mangle the html) of auckland zoo’s efforts to keep its keas entertained:

  4. I’ve worked with a parrot rescue group. I have a scar from when a Pionus ripped my finger to the bone when she had her first nail trim in four years.

    Keas seem to combine the destructive power of parrots with the craftiness of crows and ravens. That’s how they figured out how to kill sheep.

    I’ve seen pigeons eating fried chicken. I’ve seen finches swarming a ham sandwich. I’ve seen grackles strip the meat from a hamburger in 30 seconds. I’ve seen blue jays fly off with an annual cicada the size of their heads buzzing at full buzz. Birds are dinosaurs: We should be happy that most of them are too small to harm us.

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