Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carnivorous Parrots

Today I will discuss two birds that are carnivores that you wouldn't expect: the Kea and the Shrikes.

The Kea is a parrot. It lives in New Zealand and is about 20 inches in length, so a pretty large parrot. It is now uncommon because farmers used to kill it because it preyed on livestock, particularly sheep.
Yes, it's a PARROT that can hunt SHEEP.
It's also a neophile, meaning it loves novelty. It is apparently a nuisance to non-tourists, as it will steal items or pull rubber off of cars. They have even been known to steal passports.

Shrikes are a sparrow-like bird that eats meat. They have been known to take down prey as large as ermines. Imagine a sparrow killing a weasel AND THEN EATING IT. Then you'd have a shrike.
Because their beaks are not suited to tearing apart flesh, they instead use thorn bushes as a place to butcher, puncturing their caught prey on the thorns and tearing the meat off. Their larder, as it is called, can be quite full, especially if it's near the breeding season when the males are trying to show off to the females.

The Kea, courtesy of Wikipedia

Anyway, I hope my nerdiness didn't weird you guys out too much. If you want to hear more about carnivorous birds' habits, here is a link to the soothing iconic voice of David Attenborough, possibly the coolest guy in existence right now.


  1. No offense to our family, but I'm not sure being weirded out by nerdiness is possible...
    Also, I want a meat larder!

  2. The Keas are obviously descended from test subjects of the top secret KGB project "AgentParrot". Look at the signs. They target the main driving force in the New Zealand economy: sheep. Then, they take out the transportation systems. The fact that they're already stealing passports shows that they're planning to impersonate tourists and native New Zealanders in order to escape the country and report back to their defunct experimental station.

    Also, the idea of a thorn bush strung with meaty ribbons of shrike prey is pretty cool, because it's a great example of birdy ingenuity. But I have to admit it'd be a pretty creepy thing to run into a thornbush mysteriously covered with with impaled lizards and insects in the middle of the African wilderness.

  3. Shrikes aren't just in Africa, they're in America too, though they can't find as many thorns so they use barb wire.