The main one was that the kakapo is the only parrot to practice the lek system. The lek system is a practice wherein males put on competing displays for the females. Since the kakapo doesn't have the ability to fly or to fight, and is a better waddler than a walker, the only thing it has to display is its home and its voice. The male clips paths to his mating site, scoops out a nice bowl in the earth, preferably near a rock face on a cliff that will let the sound carry, and 'booms.' The booming is a deep repetitive throb with just a hint of musical overtone. It carries for miles. It sounds like it's coming from everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Nowadays, when kakapo are concentrated in relatively large numbers on relatively small islands, it's not so much of a problem. In, for example, the majority of Fjordland, a region so mountainous and rough that sections of it are unexplored, it's a bit more frustrating to not know where whoever you want to mate with is calling from. Females were known to show up to empty mating sites and wait for days for males who were busily occupied booming somewhere else.

The males don't do themselves any favors, either. Understandably frustrated that females take the space of a college education off between breeding seasons, the males are known to breed with anything that catches their attention. This includes things like other birds, bits of the scenery, and a human's head. There are multiple video segments that show the male birds attempting to mate with the people filming them. Usually, due to the mulcher claws, the clips are accompanied by words like, "Ow! Ow! Ow!" Not all creatures, especially some of the new mammals in New Zealand, appreciate this kind of treatment. These kinds of encounters probably ended disastrously. (To be fair, this also might be why more males survived in the wild. Using the claws to try to mate with a cat is still better than just freezing up and hoping the cat loses interest.)


In the end, it looks like the kakapo's odd are actually improving. Their numbers have just about tripled, after a research program that put the females on careful diets resulted in twenty-four surviving chicks, with a majority of them being female. Slowly, they're even beginning to repopulate islands, once all the mammals and other non-native species have been cleared out. Still, the kakapo is one of the species that is now going to need constant human intervention to survive. Some researchers actually report having to help the chicks out of the eggs by using tweezers to remove the more stubborn bits of shell. Under any kind of ecological pressure, the round little ground parrot simply can't make it on its own.

Top Image: Wiki Commons

Second Image: Wiki Commons

Via ABC, Kakapo Recovery, and Last Chance to See.