Reader Mike Hannah, a professor of paleontology and evolution at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, sent me a link to this short (3½ minute) film about a man named Corey and his dog Ajax, who’s been trained to sniff out underground kea nests (he wears a muzzle). It’s all in the cause of conservation, for, as I wrote here, there are only between 1000 and 5000 of these magnificent birds left in the wild, and the number is dropping. Corey and Ajax weigh and monitor the birds, though I guess then can’t save them from predators (probably stoats or brush-tailed possums).
Watch this on the big screen by clicking the “vimeo” icon in the lower right after you start the video.
I’m not a huge fan of d*gs, but I also recognize that they are wonderful companions for many people and, unlike cats, can actually help people do things (I love the contraband-sniffing beagles in airports).
The kea (Nestor notabilis) is the world’s only alpine parrot, and, as far as I know, the world’s only semi-carnivorous parrot (they are known to land on the backs of sheep, rip them open, and eat the meat beneath the wool). Here is one I saw in the “wild” (a car park near Arthur’s Pass) on my trip to New Zealand. It was a great find for me, since I spent an entire day before a kindly bus driver helped me locate this one (see post here for the story and more photos).
Nomming an apple in the car park (I didn’t give it to the bird). Note that it’s banded.