One-of-a-kind Parrot

The kakapo, Strigops habroptilus, also known as the owl parrot, is the Guardian’s “Mystery Bird” this week. “This stunning but rare species is so unusual that it is the only member of its genus and some ornithologists argue that it should even be placed into its own family, separate from all its other family members. What makes is this bird so unusual? There are many things that make the kakapo unusual, such as this is the world’s only flightless parrot species, and it is the only parrot to form leks where males gather together to court females (similar to prairie chickens). Besides its unique (among parrots) behaviours, this bird also has unique morphological characters: because it is flightless, it has small wings, reduced wing muscles, and a diminished keel on the sternum. The individual pictured above is Sinbad, who was hatched in 1998. His father is the recently deceased Richard Henry, who was one of the oldest kakapo known (probably around 8 years old).”

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