Last updates


Legal issues

New Zealand Kaka
Nestor meridionalis

Psittaciforme Order – Nestoridae Family

Length: 45 cm
Weight: 550 gr

The Kaka is a plump parrot, classified as vulnerable species, endemic to New Zealand.

Adult male has brown and red plumage, becoming bronze according to the light.

Upperparts are mostly brown on back, wings and short tail. Upper back is rusty-red, as rump and upper tail coverts.

Underparts include brown throat and breast. Belly, vent and under tail coverts are red-orange. Under tail feathers are brown, finely barred orange and with large brownish terminal band. Under wing is brown with mottled orange and whitish primary coverts, and brownish flight feathers.

Entire body presents scaled effect plumage, due to contrasting edges in feathers. 

The Kaka feeds on fruits, shoots, insects and their larvae caught under the bark, various kinds of nectar from flowers, sap from trees, and seeds from the Kauri tree.    

The Kaka is classified as vulnerable species. It is threatened by habitat loss due to forest clearance for agriculture.
This species suffers heavy predation by introduced mustelids such as stoats, which enter nesting cavities, take the eggs and even kill the incubating female.

Fr: Nestor superbe
All :  Kaka
Esp : Kaka
Ital : Kaka
Nd : Kaka
Russe :  Кака

Photographs by Patrick Ingremeau

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 4 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334229

PARROTS OF THE WORLD – An Identification Guide – by Joseph M. Forshaw – Princeton University Press – ISBN 0691092516

KNOW YOUR NEW ZEALAND BIRDS by Lynnette Moon - New Holland Publishers – ISBN: 1869660897

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

New Zealand birds and birding (Narena Olliver)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)


Home page

Page Psittaciforme Order

Summary Cards


On the head, the Kaka has whitish forehead, crown and nape, slightly edged buffy-brown. Face is brown, with pinkish and orange flecks, and orange patch on ear coverts. Chin is buffy-white with brownish edges, giving scaled effect too.
Strong, hooked bill is grey, with long upper mandible. Eyes are dark brown, with grey eye-ring. Legs and feet are grey.

Female is similar to the male, with browner face and shorter, less curved bill.
Juvenile resembles adults and it has paler eye-ring.

We can find two subspecies:
Nestor meridionalis meridionalis from South and Stewart Islands and offshore islands. 
Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis, duller in plumage, from North and offshore islands.   

The Kaka utters shrill, grating calls. But when jumping and tumbling through the branches and trees, it can utter melodious whistles and trills contrasting to the harsh cries given in flight.

The Kaka frequents mainly the depths of forests with mature trees. It also can be found feeding in orchards and gardens.

The Kaka lives in New Zealand, from 450 to 1000 metres of elevation. It can perform altitudinal movements according to the season.

The Kaka feeds on fruits, shoots and insects. It grips the fruit with its toes, and brings the food to its bill. In order to catch insects and larvae, it rips the bark with its strong bill for reaching hidden invertebrates and grubs in dead wood. The Kaka has brush-tipped tongue, and it uses it for sipping some honey-dew from beech-trees. It also takes nectar from flowers, and sap from some trees. Seeds from Kauri’s cones are also eaten.

The Kakas forage in pairs or in small groups, and are often seen in tree-tops or flying above the canopy. They feed in the morning and in late afternoon, and they rest in trees at midday.

Before to go to their roost, they perform noisy aerobatics, and can also call at night during the summer.

The Kaka may perform some displays with raised wings, in order to expose its colourful under wings. This behaviour can be used as intimidation against rivals, or only to communicate between them within a group.

The Kaka has strong flight, performed with flapping wing beats. This bird is able to cross several kilometres from forested islands to the continent.

Breeding season occurs between September and March.
The Kaka nests in deep cavities in large mature trees, at about three to six metres above the ground. Interior is lined with soft wood dust. 

Female lays 3 to 4 eggs on the dry lining. Incubation lasts about 24 days, mainly by female. Male collects food for her, calling softly for feeding her out of the nest, by regurgitated plant matter. Female adopts the characteristic posture of “begging food” by crouching and quivering wings.
Chicks are fed by parents, mainly by the male, and remain at nest for about 9 to 10 weeks. They depend of parents for food during 4 to 5 months.
This species has very low reproductive rate.