Link #82: The Kakapo Is a Parrot That Can’t Fly!

 

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Link #82: The Kakapo Is a Parrot That Can’t Fly!

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kakapo by jidanchaomian cc2.0

Weight loss is a major concern in the modern world. Those of us who are a little overweight are always looking for effective methods for losing weight. In our last post, we explained how people can lose weight by smelling green apples or bananas every time they feel hungry.

Obesity, however, isn’t only a human problem, regardless of how much you’ve heard this. Animals can also get fat. Take the Kakapo. Did you know that Kakapo is possibly the only bird species in the world that is actually fat? In fact, the Kakapo is so fat that it has forgotten to fly! Do you want to know more? Read on.

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The Kakapo Is Very Fat for Its Size!

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A kakapo named sirocco. Image credit: Department of Conservation cc2.0

Kakapos are the fattest parrots in the world. This is a unique characteristic because birds, by nature, don’t get fat. Kakapos’ weight is usually seriously disproportional to their size.

Typical Kakapos can be as tall as about 24 inches which is 2 feet. However, they grow to be as heavy as 5 kg. The reason why Kakapos grow fat is that they have the ability to store energy in their bodies in the form of fat.

Most of us associate excessive weight with being unhealthy. However, for Kakapos, the only side effect of being fat is the loss of their ability to fly. Being fat doesn’t even affect the life span of a Kakapo.

On an average, a Kakapo will live for anything between 45 and 60 years. However, biologically speaking, Kakapos can live up to 90 years. This makes them the longest living birds on the planet.


Kakapos Are the Only Flightless Parrots in the World

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Kakapo’s feet. Photo: Chris Birmingham, Department of Conservation cc2.0

Kakapos have evolved to have the capability of storing energy in their bodies in the form of fat. This is probably the main reason why Kakapos are the only flightless parrots in the world. At some stage during their evolution, Kakapos’ wings shrank to become short.

This can also be seen as a reason why they can’t fly. In fact, the main purpose of Kakapos’ wings is balance. While these birds are quite fat and can’t fly, this doesn’t mean that they can’t travel.

They are ground dwelling birds that have extremely stout legs. Kakapos can use their legs to not only travel long distances but also climb tall trees. Sometimes, when startled, a Kakapo will jump out of a tree and use its short wings as a type of parachute to glide down to earth.


Kakapos Are Endangered Birds

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Population size changes for the kakapo. Image credit: KimvdLinde cc3.0

Kakapos are considered to be critically endangered. This means that they are close to becoming extinct. There are mainly two reasons why Kakapos are endangered. The first is the arrival of man in their pastures. When Maori and other settlers came to Kakapos’ ranges they destroyed their habitat by clearing the region out.

Along with this, human settlers also brought predators like cats, stoats and rats with them. Since the Kakapos didn’t have any defence against these kinds of predators, they quickly succumbed to them and became endangered.




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Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakapo
http://beautyofbirds.com/kakapo.html
http://www.bagheera.com/inthewild/van_anim_kakapo.htm
http://www.wired.com/2014/03/creature-feature-10-fun-facts-kakapo/

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