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Books about the Kea

This page lists books that are totally or partially about the Kea. The books are listed in order of publication date with the most recent at the top.

For general books about Parrots see:


Nestor notabilis


The Kea

Natasha Fijn

Photographs: Rod Morris

Raupo Publishing


"Kea contains everything you could ever want to know about keas and includes information on: breeding, habitat, kea conservation, the history of keas, and scientific classification. Natasha Fijin is the only full-time researcher on kea in New Zealand."

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Kea: Bird Of Paradox: The Evolution And Behaviour Of A New Zealand Parrot

Judy Diamond and Alan Bond

University of California Press


"The kea, a crow-sized parrot that lives in the rugged mountains of New Zealand, is considered by some a playful comic and by others a vicious killer. Its true character is a mystery that biologists have debated for more than a century. Judy Diamond and Alan Bond have written a comprehensive account of the kea's contradictory nature, and their conclusions cast new light on the origins of behavioral flexibility and the problem of species survival in human environments everywhere. New Zealand's geological remoteness has made the country home to a bizarre assemblage of plants and animals that are wholly unlike anything found elsewhere. Keas are native only to the South Island, breeding high in the rigorous, unforgiving environment of the Southern Alps. Bold, curious, and ingeniously destructive, keas have a complex social system that includes extensive play behavior. Like coyotes, crows, and humans, keas are 'open-program' animals with an unusual ability to learn and to create new solutions to whatever problems they encounter. Diamond and Bond present the kea's story from historical and contemporary perspectives and include observations from their years of field work. A comparison of the kea's behavior and ecology with that of its closest relative, the kaka of New Zealand's lowland rain forests, yields insights into the origins of the kea's extraordinary adaptability. The authors conclude that the kea's high level of sociality is a key factor in the flexible lifestyle that probably evolved in response to the alpine habitat's unreliable food resources and has allowed the bird to survive the extermination of much of its original ecosystem."

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The Book Of The Kea

Philip Temple



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The Kea: A New Zealand problem, including a full description of this very interesting bird, its habitat and ways, together with a discussion of the theories advanced to explain its sheep-killing propensities

George R. Marriner

Marriner Bros & Co


"To write a book about a bird may seem to some a needless task. That depends more on the bird than on the writer. The New Zealand mountain parrot we call the Kea presents a topic of importance from many points of view. For half a century the has been accused of being a sheep-killer. That accusation, persistently and vehemently made, has drawn the attention of the scientific and non-scientific alike. For a parrot of but average proportions to develop a furious carnivoi'ous propensity is zoologically remarkable enough. When this alleged habit is held to be the cause of heavy losses to the sheep-farming industry of a country it demands study also on other than zoological grounds. Naturally enough, much has been written and said already. For fifty years the Kea has been a veritable Ishmael, and has been treated on the principle : give a bird a bad name and shoot him. Not all that has been told of him, however, is true. Much has been wildest conjecture ; part is but colourably accurate ; all, until lately, was more or less uncertain. There seemed to be room for a careful and detailed examination of the subject. Such an examination is here attempted."

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Last updated September 2011