Strigops habroptilus, commonly called the kakapo (meaning ‘parrot of the night’ in Maori), is the star of our 2009 series of annual coins featuring rare and endangered native animals.
Flightless and nocturnal, the Kakapo looks more like an owl than a parrot, with its whiskered, wide-eyed face and fluffy, soft feathers that provide perfect camouflage in New Zealand’s native forests. It is also utterly captivating, with a waddling gait, a natural curiosity and comic antics that may explain why early settlers sometimes kept Kakapo as pets.
Unfortunately though, this bird smells – so strongly and distinctively that it betrays its whereabouts to birds, dogs, cats and other predators from great distances. So it’s been hunted and killed ever since predators were introduced to New Zealand; with limited defences against introduced predators, the Kakapo is a true survivor and one worth saving.
The story of the Kakapo makes fascinating reading – so make sure you order the coins, as they come with information covering details such as the Kakapo's feeding and mating habits and the recovery programme that’s helping to keep the species alive.
In the meantime, take a look at these beautiful collectables. Crafted to the finest detail, they are a reminder of nature’s ability to combine strength with fragility in an animal that, despite surviving millions of years, now needs help to survive every day.