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Red-crowned parakeet  - Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae novaezelandiae | by Steve Attwood
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Red-crowned parakeet - Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae novaezelandiae

The Red-Crowned Parakeet, commonly known by its Maori name Kakariki, is a long tailed bright green parrot with a red crown, forehead and band of red which extends from the bill through the eye and beyond, crimson rump patches and violet blue on wing coverts and some outer flight feathers.

Kakariki have a rapid, direct flight, usually above the canopy and often accompanied by a rapid loud chatter: "ki-ki-ki-ki-ki". When feeding they are either silent or babble.

Kakariki are very rare in the North Island, although this wasn't always the case. They were common in the 1880's but with the introduction of feral cats, stoats, and ship rats they became rare. They are even more rare in the South Island, but are widespread on Stewart Island and many predator-free island reserves.

Kakariki eat a wide variety of plant seeds (particularly flax), fruit, berries, buds, shoots and flowers, as well as nectar and small invertebrates. They often feed on the ground rather than in the canopy, making them susceptible to mammalian predators.

Red-crowned parakeets make their nests in holes in branches and trunks, ground burrows or densely matted vegetation.

The three species of Kākāriki or New Zealand parakeets are the most common species of parakeet in the genus Cyanoramphus, family Psittacidae. The birds' Māori name, which is the most commonly used, means "small parrot"[1]. The three species on mainland New Zealand are the Yellow-crowned Parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps, the Red-crowned Parakeet or Red-fronted Parakeet, C. novaezelandiae, and the critically endangered Malherbe's Parakeet (or Orange-fronted Parakeet[2] ) C. malherbi.

All above subspecies are native to New Zealand, and have become endangered as a result of habitat destruction following European settlement and nest predation by introduced species of mammal. Scarce on the mainland, kākāriki have survived well on outlying islands, and also through breeding in captivity since they make good pets. A licence from the New Zealand Department of Conservation is now required to breed them in captivity.

Once an important feature of the native forest around Wellington the birds became locally extinct because of forest clearance and predation from intorduced pests. They have since been returned to the Wellington mainland at Zealandia, a predator-proofed snactuary, where this photo was taken.

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Taken on January 16, 2011