A CURIOUS BIRD.
' ▼ ■ 1 There is now in the London “ Zoo ” a very remarkable bird, the Nestor | notabilis, or Mountain Kea, of New J Zealand. It is a parrot of strong frame and powerful bill and claws, which were 1 used like those of all parrots, for obtaining a vegetable diet, until the colonists 5 introduced sheep and pigs. As soon as this was done the Kea seems' to have *. abandoned vegetable food, and i taken entirely to flesh-eating. Heg atJ . tacks sick or dying or disabled sh£fep, and with his powerful cutting beak - opens a passage through.the back,, and 3 eats the intestines. Even healthy ani- ’ mals are sometimes, assailed - by' the j Nestor notabilis, and there .are sheep- . runs in New Zealand where considerf able losses have been incurred through these strangely degenerated birds. The 5 specimen in the Zoological Gardens gave as much trouble to capture as an r eagle, tearing the clothes of the shepherd, who knocked it down while 1 pouncing on a iamb, and lacerated his . hands. 'The Kea scorns cooked meat, biscuits," fruit, or seeds, and likes raw
mutton better than any food. He will tear the skin and flesh from a sheep’s head after the furious fashion of a vulture, leaving nothing but the bare skull. JJe at one time holds the morsels in his lifted claw, after the style of parrots, and at another grips them under his feet while rending with his beak like a hawk. This is a very curious example of change of habit, for there is every reason to believe that before sheep and pigs were introduced into New Zealand the Kea was as firugiverous in its means as most, if not all, other parrots. He will now eat
pork and beef as well as mutton, and bas become, in fact, utterly and hopelessly carnivorous. It is to be feared, after this example, that temptation is often fatal to birds and beasts as well as man. Had it not been for Captain Cook and the English sheep flocks, the Nestor notabilis would have lived and died innocent of crime ; but now its bloodstained carcase is suspended outside many a sheepfold near Otago. _
Permanent link to this item
A CURIOUS BIRD., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 509, 15 December 1881
A CURIOUS BIRD. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 509, 15 December 1881
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.