Nestor meridionalis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Nestor meridionalis
Species Authority: (Gmelin, 1788)
Common Name/s:
English Kaka, New Zealand Kaka
Spanish Kaka

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2be+3be+4be ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Reviewer/s: Butchart, S.
Contributor/s: Greene, T., Hitchmough, R. & Moorhouse, R.
Facilitator/s: Benstead, P., Harding, M., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., Taylor, J.
This species is classified as Endangered because its small population is estimated to be declining very rapidly, owing to the effects of introduced competitors and predators.

2012 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Nestor meridionalis is endemic to New Zealand. The North Island subspecies septentrionalis survives in large forest tracts from Coromandel to Wairarapa, and is moderately common only in the forests of Pureora and Whirinaki and some offshore islands (Heather and Robertson 1997, Greene and Fraser 1998, T. Greene in litt. 1999). The South Island subspecies meridionalis is mostly found west of the Southern Alps, Fiordland and south-western Southland, Stewart Island and several offshore islands, and is in low numbers in all areas. The population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 birds (Heather and Robertson 1997), and new information indicates that the species has almost disappeared from the mainland except for a few intensely managed sites, and those valleys that remain free of possums. Three generations ago over 90% of the population would have been on the mainland, whereas now less than 50% is found there (R. Moorhouse per R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005). Mortality is highest in nesting females, so relatively large numbers of males can remain highly visible for a long time after the population reaches a very poor condition functionally (R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005).

New Zealand
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to be in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals in total, equating to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species inhabits large areas of low to mid-altitude forest. Its diet is diverse, consisting of fruit, seeds, nectar, sap, invertebrates (Beggs and Wilson 1991, Moorhouse 1997), and also "honeydew" in South Island Nothofagus beech forests (Beggs and Wilson 1991). It appears to depend on infrequently available, superabundant food crops in order to breed (Moorhouse 1997, Wilson et al. 1998). It nests in natural cavities in old or dying trees and usually lays four eggs (T. Greene in litt. 1999), with the chicks taking over seven months to become fully independent (Heather and Robertson 1997).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Historically, forest clearance and hunting decimated habitat and numbers (Heather and Robertson 1997, Moorhouse 1997, Greene and Fraser 1998, Wilson et al. 1998). Stoats Mustela erminea kill adults, in particular females incubating eggs, probably causing the highly skewed sex ratio on the mainland (Greene and Fraser 1998, Wilson et al. 1998, T. Greene in litt 1999, Ledgard 2010). Brush-tailed possums Trichosurus vulpecula rob nests (T. Greene in litt. 1999), being responsible for the failure of six out of 13 nests in Whirinaki during a single breeding season (Greene et al. 2004), and compete for high-energy foods (especially native mistletoe) required for successful breeding (Heather and Robertson 1997, Wilson et al. 1998, Ledgard 2010). Black rats Rattus rattus are also implicated (Moorhouse 1997). Sites with predator control have a nest failure incidence of 16%, compared to 84% in sites without predator control (Moorhouse et al. 2003). Introduced wasps Vespula spp. compete for honeydew, and may be contributing to declines in Nothofagus forests (Beggs and Wilson 1991, Moorhouse 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Predator/pest control is carried out in several large areas and around known nest-sites (T. Greene in litt 1999). Kaka have been released into the pest free Maungatautiri sanctuary in the Waikato. Intensive nest protection will be occurring within a small area of Waitutu forest in Southland during the 2007/2008 breeding season. It is hoped that a more extensive integrated pest control regime will be initiated within Waitutu in the next year or two. Supplementary foods were trialled where wasps are a major problem, but did not increase productivity (Wilson et al. 1998). Radio-tracking is used to identify adult and juvenile movements and survival, habitat requirements and important food sources. An on-going ex situ breeding programme has resulted in the release of 31 individuals to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pukaha Mt Bruce Forest, and breeding has subsequently been recorded in at Pukaha with the population there increasing steadily (ARAZPA 2004), but it is unlikely to be sustainable. A "stoat-proof" nest box has been developed, but adult mortality remains high (Greene et al. 2004). In 2010, the Department of Conservation began poisoning possums across 25 ha in the Waitutu Forest, which has proved effective in eliminating 99.5%, with the birds unaffected (Ledgard 2010, Anon. 2011). Results from 2008 show that predator control has a positive influence on the incidence of successful fledging (Ledgard 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Develop and implement effective methods for estimating population sizes in this species. Research its diet and habitat use in relation to breeding frequency. Develop and implement long-term, sustainable and cost-effective methods of protecting, augmenting and reintroducing populations of the species.

Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Nestor meridionalis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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