Culture

Feathered Friday: If You've Never Met a Kakariki, You Should

poukai2

You might be thinking that HAS to be Stephen Green’s bird. But no, this is my fairly new kakariki who simply has a fondness for exploring bar recipes (chewing bar recipes, etc.).

Shortly before Christmas, my lineolated parakeet Iggy passed away. If I brought another parrot into the house, I wanted one that was fairly quiet, not a biter, and not laden with the weighty emotional needs of some birds.

Jackpot!

The kakariki, meaning “small parrot” in Maori, is a grass parakeet from New Zealand, where it is now endangered in the wild. Keeping and breeding the birds there requires a special permit. In the U.S. they’re not all that common. I could see this lively, fun, sweet bird catching on as a popular pet, though.

poukai3

Poukai — which means giant man-eating bird in Maori — is a red-front cinnamon kakariki who hatched on Sept. 29. I brought her home a few days before Christmas, and by now she shares ownership of the house with the puppacita. She’s even jumped on my chihuahua’s back to go for a ride, which the puppa didn’t really appreciate. At least she was wearing a sweatshirt to shield her from talons.

Kakarikis need a large cage because they have so much energy to burn. Poukai has a medium-sized cage with a play gym next to it, and the front and terrace doors are almost always open. She’s basically earned these free-cage rights because from the very start she’s had amazing self-discipline about going to bed each night and jumping in the cage so I can close that door before opening the nearby patio door. Her wings are clipped, which is good because they’re fast little things. She has a swift ground game, taking advantage of her springy legs and climbing whatever she chooses with her beak. They’re about 10.5 inches to 11.5 inches in length and eat seed mix and pellets in cockatiel size. Her food cups — those great white crocks they sell at Pier One for a buck — are on the floor of a rather deep cage bottom because they scratch through food like chickens. She uses her left foot to hold raisins and lettuce and the like while she gnaws at leisure.

And I was warned that they’re little flying garbage disposals. Not only does she follow me to the kitchen for a piece of produce in the morning, but if I get the opportunity to sit down for a meal she’s pretty bold about trying to grab some. We had a pretty epic tug-o-war with a long strand of coleslaw the other day. Yep, all the things Poukai’s not supposed to eat, she thinks she can sample. Including dragging a piece of yucca out of a Peruvian takeout container.

poukai4

Kakarikis have just a couple of sounds. Their short little talking sound resembles the tiny meow of a Maine Coon. This takes on a concerned tone when she doesn’t want to step up on my hand, doesn’t want me to put her down, doesn’t want to take a bath — so that’s the pout sound. And the only other sound, which I don’t hear to often, is a laughing cackle. That’s the loudest sound these parrots make, sometimes emitted when she’s watching outside birds through the window.

Poukai is extremely playful and loves to jump on my head. If I’m walking around and she wants to come along, she hops onto my ankle and climbs up my clothes to my shoulder. Considering I’ve only had her since it’s been thermal long johns weather, let’s see how well her climb works in summer (ouch).

poukai1