Well-known as highly intelligent and curious birds, kea are quick to explore their environment, which may be an important behavioural trait in the harsh climate of New Zealand's high country (6). The breeding season runs from July to January, and clutches of two to four eggs are laid in nests protected amongst the boulders (7). Males feed their mate whilst she incubates the eggs (2), which may take up to four weeks (3). Family groups remain together until the chicks reach sexual maturity; a time when males generally disperse from their natal area (3).
Kea have a varied and adaptable diet, reflecting the changeable conditions of their habitat. In summer, seeds, flowers and insects are taken and mountain flax is particularly popular (6). Kea are also known to take Huttons shearwater chicks (Puffinus huttoni) from their nests (9). In the winter however, when times are hard, these parrots may feed on animal carcasses, particularly those of sheep which are farmed in the hill country, and may even attack live sheep (6).