Kea parrots are naturally bold and curious, which can get them into all kinds of mischief. Such was the case recently, when the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Milford Alliance were scratching their heads when they kept finding their road cones in odd places.
That is until they checked the surveillance footage and the answer became clear. Looking over the cameras at each end of the one-way Homer Tunnel (the entrance to Milford Sound) they could see kea moving the road cones deliberately into traffic.
“The endearing but mischievous kea have been taking matters into their own talons in an effort (it is thought) to get drivers to slow down or stop and then to feed them,” said the government agency.
“We think the keas listen for the cars in the tunnel and move the road cones between the streams of traffic,” says Milford Alliance Manager Kevin Thompson.
Watch the surveillance video of the naughty keas in action.
There recent roadside mischief lead to the Alliance team cautioning drivers to not feed the birds or to encourage their activity near traffic.
They also tried a few solutions to stop the road cones from being knocked over. When heavier road cones didn’t quite do the trick, they resorted to building a roadside jungle gym for the birds to play on.
The “kea gym” has objects, contraptions, and puzzles to distract the birds from the road. The gym has ladders, flotation devices, swings, and climbing frames, and the whole thing gets rearranged regularly to hold the birds’ interest.
The alpine birds are native to New Zealand and are considered an endangered species after their numbers were seriously depleted by farmers in the 1970s who considered the intelligent birds to be pests.
Keas are cheeky, intelligent and hilarious and will try anything once. Their experimentation leads to all kinds of incredible problem-solving feats and naughty interactions with people and other animals.
Now conservation efforts are underway to preserve the bird.
Just how smart are Kea birds? Watch this clip from the BBC of a kea trying to figure out how to move heavy logs so that he can open up the wheelie bins. Keep in mind this is a wild bird and has not been shown or taught what to do. His puzzle-solving skills are seriously impressive.
Keas also frequent ski resorts in search of food, as this other clip reveals. They’ll try anything once!
Share what these fascinating birds can do with your friends and family.