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Nestor productus - Norfolk Island Kaka (RMNH 110.061)
RMNH 110.061
Nestor productus - Norfolk Island Kaka (RMNH 110.068)
RMNH 110.068

Psittacidae (Parrots)

Norfolk Island Kaka Nestor productus (Gould, 1836)

  • RMNH 110.061: adult, male. Phillip Island. Acquired in: 1863.
  • RMNH 110.068: adult, female. Phillip Island, Norfolk Island. Obtained through: G.A. Frank.

Eaten by convicts and locals
The last Norfolk Island Kaka is said to have died in a cage in London in 1851. This would have been the last specimen of this parrot that had been caught on Norfolk, an island 800 km north-west of New Zealand. However, there are indications that the species survived on some of the small islands near Norfolk, such as Philip Island. Here the parrots were hunted by convicts and locals - presumably for their meat - and they vanished during the second half of the 19th century.

The Norfolk Island Kaka is a close relative of the New Zealand Kaka, Nestor meridionalis. Very little is known about its behaviour, but assuming that it resembled that of the Kaka in New Zealand, the birds must have been very shy. However, there are written accounts that the birds from Norfolk were very tame instead which would have led to their demise. If so, the shy behaviour of Kaka’s from New Zealand might be an adaptation to human presence. Nowadays Kaka’s avoid populated areas and occur in the forests of New Zealand and neighbouring islands, such as Kapiti and Stewart Island. To save the New Zealand species, conservation of forest reserves is the first and foremost requirement.

Museum specimens
Less than 20 skins of the Norfolk Island Kaka have been preserved in museums, among which are the collections in Melbourne, New York, Washington, Tring, Amsterdam and Leiden. The two specimens in Leiden originate from Philip Island. A female was purchased from the dealer G.A. Frank. The provenance of the male, dated 1863, is unknown. Assuming that the date is correct, it would confirm that the Norfolk Island Kaka survived on Philip Island several years after it had vanished from Norfolk itself.


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