The kea was described by ornithologist, John Gould, in 1856 and is named after its loud, in-flight “keee-aa” call.

The kea was described by ornithologist, John Gould, in 1856.

The genus Nestor contains four species: the New Zealand kaka (Nestor meridionalis), the kea (Nestor notabilis), the extinct Norfolk kaka (Nestor productus), and the extinct Chatham kaka (Nestor chathamensis). All four are thought to stem from a proto-kākā, dwelling in the forests of New Zealand five million years ago. Their closest relative is the flightless kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), though their only competitor is the closely related kaka. The kaka is a lowland species, and is smaller and darker than the kea with crimson underparts. Together, they form the parrot superfamily Strigopoidea, an ancient group that split off from all other Psittacidae before their radiation.

The kea’s specific epithet, the Latin term notabilis, means noteworthy.

The common name kea is from Māori, an onomatopoeic representation of their loud, in-flight call, keee-aa. The word kea is both singular and plural.

Image | © leli, Some Rights Reserved, Pixabay
Sources | (BirdLife International, 2017; De Kloet & De Kloet, 2005; Diamond & Bond, 1999; Gould, 1856; Juniper & Parr, 1998; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2020; Williams, 2001; Wright, et al., 2008)

Learn More About the Kea


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