Saturday, August 20, 2016

Feathered Hoodlums

This story, in its entirety, appeared on New Zealand's Stuff website.

Kea [parrot] ruffles residents' feathers in Marlborough
By Paula Hulburt
August 18 2016

A kea has been spotted in Onamalutu Valley, west of Blenheim

Residents in rural Marlborough are on the lookout for a feathered hoodlum vandalising property.

A rogue kea has been spotted in the Onamalutu Valley, about 25 kilometres west of Blenheim, leaving bicycle seats and spa pool covers in its wake.

The Department of Conservation has warned residents to keep an eye out for the troublesome bird.

Letters have gone out to homeowners asking them to actively discourage the cheeky parrots by squirting them with water from a hose.

DOC biosecurity supervisor Mike Avis said the birds had not been seen in the valley for a number of years.

"They are hoons and hoodlums and shouldn't be encouraged," he said. "They are usually found in the Richmond ranges so are a bit off their patch."

It was unconfirmed whether it was one or two birds wreaking havoc in the Onamalutu as reports differed and they had not been seen together.

"Tempting as it may be to feed them and keep them around it is not the best thing for them," Avis said. "They get bored and are clever birds who like to find out about their environments. They are inquisitive and that's how they get into trouble and how they've learnt to survive in areas where other parrots can't.

"They get up on the roofs of older style homes and eat the lead piping and it kills them."

DOC sent out the letters last week as a precaution and worked in conjunction with the Kea Conservation Trust to ensure people knew what to do.

The kea was the only truly alpine parrot in the world, and gained early notoriety among settler farmers for attacks on sheep. Their antics were a source of amusement to many but they also had a reputation for causing chaos.

Kea were unusual in that they actively sought out and interacted with people and their property.

Avis said the parrots loved to go exploring.

"They definitely have their foibles and people either love them or don't want them around."

Anyone who sees a kea should contact DOC to report the sighting and to get advice on 03 572 9100.

Without a doubt this has to be the finest piece of unintentionally sarcastic news writing this year:

DOC biosecurity supervisor Mike Avis said the birds had not been seen in the valley for a number of years. "They are hoons and hoodlums and shouldn't be encouraged," he said. "They are usually found in the Richmond ranges so are a bit off their patch."

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