The Kea; The worlds only snow-inhabiting parrots, they live in the alpine environments of the south island of New Zealand, and they are thought to be the Smartest parrots in the world, so smart that they are put up there with Chimpanzees and Dolphins.

Scientists have set up many puzzles which have determined that Keas are one of the best problem solvers, even when completely wild. Demonstrating group coordination, where one of them would hold open a lever while the other gets the food out, then they share!

Watch this David Attenborough documentary, “Kea - The Smartest Parrot” skip to 6 minutes in if you just want to watch them dismantle puzzles set up by researchers.

They are so smart that they actually get bored with their daily lives of gathering food and making babies, and so they play games, which residents surrounding Mt. Cook despise as it usually involves taking apart cars, TV aerials, and other things that are usually expensive to replace. 


The Scavenger of the South

Keas (nestor notabilis) are an endangered parrot species native to the southern alpine regions of New Zealand. Named by the Maori people for its distinctive kea cry, the parrots are predominantly green and black, with striking orange and yellow underwings. They’re a highly adaptive species and are considered to be one of the most intelligent bird species in the world, with the equivalent intelligence of a three-year-old child. Their lineage is thought to have diverged from other parrots approximately 80 million years ago when Zealandia split from Gondwanaland, and to scout out food to survive in their harsh alpine environment, keas developed a highly inquisitive nature—which today often makes them nuisances to nearby humans, because the parrots are also mischievous and opportunistic, and never turn down the chance to supplement their mostly-vegetarian diet with human food. They eat nearly anything, so no item of food is safe in their territory—keas are smart and daring enough to pluck it clean out of your hands. Their nature caused conflict with humans throughout the twentieth century: a bounty was introduced, and it’s thought that over 150,000 keas were culled, leaving only 1000–5000 in the wild today. They’re listed as an endangered species, also threatened by introduced pests, logging, scavenging harmful foods, and farmers who still illegally kill them to protect livestock.

(Image Credit: 1, 2)


The Keais a large species of parrot. found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. About 48 cm (19 in) long, it is mostly olive-green with a brilliant orange under its wings and has a large, narrow, curved, grey-brown upper beak. The Kea is the world’s only alpine parrot. 

The Kea nests in burrows or crevices among the roots of trees. Kea are known for their intelligence and curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment. Kea can solve logical puzzles, such as pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get to food, and will work together to achieve a certain objective.

The Kea’s notorious urge to explore and manipulate makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called “the clown of the mountains”,it will investigate backpacks, boots, or even cars, often causing damage or flying off with smaller items.

People commonly encounter wild Kea at South Island ski areas. The Kea are attracted by the prospect of food scraps. Their curiosity leads them to peck and carry away unguarded items of clothing or to pry apart rubber parts of cars — to the entertainment and annoyance of human observers. They are often described as “cheeky”. A Kea has even been reported to have made off with a Scottish man’s passport while he was visiting Fiordland National Park.