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GALLERIES > BIRDS > PSITTACIFORMES > PSITTACIDAE > NORFOLK ISLAND KAKA [Nestor productus]


Norfolk Island Kaka Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Norfolk Island K?k? (Nestor productus) is an extinct species of large parrot, belonging to the parrot family Nestoridae. The birds were about 38 cm long, with mostly olive-brown upperparts, (reddish-)orange cheeks and throat, straw-coloured breast, thighs, rump and lower abdomen dark orange and a prominent beak. It inhabited the rocks and treetops of Norfolk Island and adjacent Phillip Island. It was a relative of the K?k? from New Zealand.

Norfolk Island K?k?

Discovery

It was first described by the naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg following the discovery of Norfolk Island by James Cook on 10 October 1774. Unfortunately, the description was only published in 1844. Around 1790, John Hunter depicted a bird on a Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare). The bird was formally described by John Gould in 1836, from a specimen at the Zoological Society of London. Originally, the individuals from Norfolk Island and Philip Island were considered two separate species, Nestor norfolcensis (described by von Pelzeln in 1860) and Nestor productus, respectively, but direct comparison of specimens of both island showed that they were the same species.

Extinction

The Polynesians who lived at the Island for some time before the arrival of the Europeans hunted the K?k? for food, but it was only a small component of their diet. It was hunted for food and trapped as a pet from the arrival of the first settlers in 1788 onwards. The species' population suffered heavily after a penal colony was maintained from 1788 to 1814, and again from 1825 to 1854, and tasked with preparding the island for settlement. The species became extinct in the wild in the early nineteenth century. It was not recorded by Ensign Abel D. W. Best on either Norfolk or Phillip Island in his 1838/1839 diary entires. As Best hunted and collected specimens as a pastime, including the Norfolk Island Parakeet (which he called "Lories", being similar in shape), it is hard to accept that he would not have documented this much more attractive quarry, had the K?k? still been present. The last bird in captivity died in London in 1851.

Drawing from specimen in the British Museum.

Skins

At least seven specimens survive in Melbourne, New York, Washington, Tring (2 skins?), Amsterdam (1 skin) and Leiden (2 skins). Forshaw has measurements of seven skins, one male, one female and 5 unsexed. In the older literature, several other musea are listed as having skins, including Birmingham (1 skin, purchased around 1899) and the Derby Museum, Liverpool (2 skins, one from Norfolk Island and one from Philip Island)

Naturalis in Leiden has 2 skins; one male (RMNH 110.061) and one female (RMNH 110.068). Both individuals originate from Philip Island. The male skin was acquired in 1863 long after the species' assumed disappearance, but it is unknown how it came to Leiden. It is more likely, given Phillip Island was already overrun with feral pigs, rabbits, goats and chicken in late 1838, that the 1863 specimen was purchased from another collection. The single unsexed individual from Philip Island at the Zo÷logisch Museum Amsterdam (ZMA 3164) has been obtained before 1860, and originate probably from the same batch as the two specimens at Naturalis in Leiden. An old list of the specimens of birds present in the British Museum of Natural History list two individuals, both from Philip Island. One of the two specimens came from Mr. Bell's collection.





                                     



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