The Kea (Nestor notabilis)
Nestor notabilis, or kea (pronounced [kiː.ə]; Māori: [kɛ.a] in singular and plural), is a highly gregarious, olive-green medium sized (45-50 cm, 700-1000 g weight) parrot endemic to New Zealand. The “clowns of the mountains” live exclusively on the South Island. They are one of the few Psittaciformes (parrots) in the world to mainly inhabit alpine regions, and the only one to do so in winter conditions. Several factors make the kea an ideal species for cognition and behaviour research. High neophilia, most likely due to the low predation during their evolutionary history allow them to approach novel objects/setups with an immediate curiosity. A long juvenile phase and high life expectancy (up to 40 years) allow for higher cognitive flexibility and increased social learning, while their extractive foraging ecology makes them highly explorative. Lastly, the constant changing of group composition led to an increased capacity for tolerant social interactions, e.g. extensive play behaviour.