A good year for one of the world's heaviest parrots

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Photo credit: Getty


The last remaining kakapos, heavyset flightless parrots that only live in remote parts of New Zealand, got busy this year.

A total of 37 kakapo chicks have survived so far in 2016, signaling the most successful breeding season since conservation efforts began for the critically endangered species more than 20 years ago.

That baby boom is a much-needed boost for the 123 adult birds remaining.

"The future of New Zealand's own giant flightless parrot is looking much brighter," New Zealand Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said in a statement.

Centuries ago, kakapos were plentiful across New Zealand, but the introduction of predators such as ferrets and weasels led to their decline. By the 1900s, the green-feathered birds were thought be to extinct, but in 1970 about 40 kakapos were found on Stewart Island, just off the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island.

RELATED: 10 Unique Animals That Will Disappear With the Forests

Beginning in 1995, kakapos were transported to three predator-free islands, where the birds are monitored. The last egg hatched April 8, and all the hatchlings will be checked and weighed regularly until they fledge from the nests at about 10 weeks old.

They won't be added to the official kakapo count until six months after their birth, said Barry.

This year marked the first time successful hatches took place on all three islands, as kakapos are notoriously picky breeders, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation. They only reproduce every two to four years, depending on the availability of fruit from trees—their primary food source.

Deidre Vercoe, the conservation department's kakapo operations manager, told The Guardian that improvements in remote-sensing data and monitoring equipment that allows for a more "hands-off" approach to kakapo management could be part of the reason for the successful breeding season.

"This is a turning point for us," she said. "These kinds of technological advances are enabling us to look after more kakapo in a non-invasive way, and as the population grows, these tools will be crucial."

Take the Pledge: Save Tigers, Apes, Sharks, and Other Endangered Wildlife

Check out some of the animals on the list of endangered species:

27 PHOTOS
Endangered species
See Gallery
A good year for one of the world's heaviest parrots
Baby pygmy hippopotamus 'Lani' walks on a path on May 17, 2014 at the Basel Zoo. Lani is one around 135 pygmy hippopotamuses in the European Endangered Species Program. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini via Getty Images)
A young pileated gibbon hangs with its mother in their enclosure at the zoo in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. (AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri)
Two sand cats born on April 15, 2008 are pictured on April, 25, 2008 at the Amneville's zoo, eastern France. Sand cats are one of the smallest of the wild cats, ranging from Sahara in North Africa to the arid regions of Iran and Pakistan in West and South Asia. (Photo by Johanna Leguerre via AFP/Getty Images)
Rochale, a 41-year old Sumatran Orangutan holds her newborn baby at the Ramat Gan Safari park near Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
This Mountain Pygmy Possum is part of a breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary, 10 March 2007. (Photo by Andrew De La Rue/The AGE/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
Three black footed ferrets huddle in a temporary housing unit as animal keepers at the National Zoo's conservation center in Front Royal, Va., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. This shipment marked an important moment in the recovery of a species once declared extinct. Researchers rediscovered the black-footed ferret in 1981 and collected the last 24 in Wyoming to try to save them. Now 1,000 are again living in the wild. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Koola, an 18-year-old western lowland gorilla holds her newborn infant in her enclosure at Brookfield Zoo on November 6, 2013 in Brookfield, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Amur leopard Xembalo looks through the bars of its enclosure at the zoo in Leipzig, Germany, on April 3, 2013. (AP Photo/dpa, Hendrik Schmidt)
In this Feb. 21, 2014 photo, Biologist Armando Tovar Garza from Mexico's National Autonomous University holds a young axolotl in his hand at an experimental canal run by the university in the Xochimilco network of lakes and canals in Mexico City. Investigators have begun a search in hopes of finding what may be the last free-roaming axolotl. Not one axolotl was found during last year's effort at finding them in the wild in Xochimilco, their only natural habitat. The axolotl is known as the "water monster" and the "Mexican walking fish." (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
A critically endangered female Greater Bamboo Lemur, one of only 19 in animal collections throughout the world, looks around her enclosure after arriving from France at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park near Ashford, Kent. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Archive)
Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington on her first birthday, on Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A handout photo dated March 21, 2013 shows a short-eared elephant shrew swinging on his new swing in the Wilhelmina in Stuttgart, Germany. Short-eared elephant shrews grow only 22 to 24 cm long; half of the length is made up by the tail. They live in Africa and can reach a speed of up to 20 km/h. (Photo by Susanne Kern/DPA)
Owabi, a two-week-old monkey cub of the Cercopithecus roloway family, one of the 25 most endangered primate species in the world, is pictured with its mother, Nyaga, on August 2, 2012 at the zoo in Mulhouse, eastern France. (Photo by Sebstien Bozon via AFP/Getty Images)
A female Sumatran rhino named Ratu, right, is seen with her newly-born calf at Way Kambas National Park in Lampung, Indonesia, Monday, June 25, 2012. Ratu, a highly endangered Sumatran rhinoceros, gave birth to the calf Saturday in western Indonesia, a forestry official said. It is only the fifth known birth in captivity for the species in 123 years. (AP Photo)
An employee poses with an Egyptian tortoise during a photo call for Whipsnade Zoo's annual stocktake in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, north of London, on January 7, 2014. (Photo by Carl Court via AFP/Getty Images)
A zoo keeper holds a baby Philippine crocodile during the annual weigh-in to record animals vital statistics at ZSL London Zoo in London on August 21, 2014. (Photo by Carl Court via AFP/Getty Images)
The "Indian" or "Java" rhinoceros is listed as a critically endangered of extinction, this rare animal has only one horn which marks the main difference with the African type. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cuban Greater Funnel-eared Bat. 

(Photo by Alex Borisenko/Biodiversity Institute of Ontario via Flickr)

Visitors take pictures of an angel shark as it passes above them during the public opening of The Manila Ocean Park, the country's first oceanarium on March 1, 2008, in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)
In this Sept. 27, 2011 file photo, a gopher frog is seen at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. A conservation group says the federal government hasn't done enough to save the endangered dusky gopher frog because it has yet to write up a rescue plan. The Center for Biological Diversity's legal notice of plans to sue comes about three months after a property rights group filed such a notice claiming the Interior Department has gone too far in protecting the frogs, which spawn in ponds so shallow they dry up in the summer. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
A female Northern Bald Ibis, also referred to as Waldrapp, warms her nest while two fellows protect her at the zoo in St. Peter-Ording, Germany, on May 5, 2008. (Photo by Carsten Rehder/DPA) 
Undated photo of spoon-billed sandpiper chick. (Photo by John O'Sullivan/PA Archive)
A critically endangered small tooth sawfish roams its new home at Oceanworld in Sydney on August 18, 2011. Measuring over 1.5 metres in length, sawfish have adapted to live in both salt and fresh water, while their long saw-like rostrum (nose) has evolved to expertly forage for food under the sandy ocean floor. (Photo by Torsten Blackwood via AFP/Getty Images)

A giant soft-shell turtle which is considered a sacred symbol of Vietnamese independence is guided into a cage for a health check by handlers at Hoan Kiem lake in the heart of Hanoi. Thousands of onlookers cheered in central Hanoi on April 3, 2011 when rescuers captured for treatment the ailing and ancient giant turtle. Legend has it that the turtle is the guardian of a magical sword once used in the 15th century to drive out Chinese invaders. Concern has mounted in recent months over the health of the animal likely to be over 100 years old and one of the last of a critically endangered species -- it is one of only four Rafetus swinhoei turtles known to exist in the world. (Photo by Vietnam News Agency via AFP/Getty Images)

Madagascar Pochard

(Photo by darwin_initiative via Flickr)

The black rhino baby, that has not been named yet, stands in its enclosure in the zoo in Magdeburg, eastern Germany, Thursday April 2, 2015. The little male rhino was born on on March 25, 2015. (AP Photo/dpa,Jens Wolf)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Related stories on TakePart:
8 of the World's Most Unusual Forests
Ancient Forests Are Keeping Wildlife Cool as the World Warms
New Zealand's New Marine Reserve Is Twice as Big as the Country Itself

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners