Cheeky parrot plucks visitor's passport
02 Jun 2009
A cheeky New Zealand parrot has flown off with a British visitor’s passport after plucking it from the courier bag of a tourist bus in the South Island.
The audacious theft took place while the bus was stopped at The Chasm, on the way to Milford Sound in Fiordland.
The cheeky kea swooped down and snatched the Scottish man’s passport from a coloured courier bag, then flew off into the bush.
The kea is a rare breed of New Zealand alpine parrot and is known for its intelligence and curiosity.
The bus driver had been checking a compartment beneath the bus, when the bird saw an opportunity and made off with the goods.
The unidentified Scotsman said "I did take it with humour but obviously there is one side of me still raging."
With the passport unlikely to be returned, the victim will have to apply for a replacement from the British High Commission in Wellington - a process that could take as long as six weeks and cost up to NZ$400.
Background: New Zealand kea
The kea, one of few alpine parrot species in the world, is found in forested and mountainous regions of the South Island of New Zealand.
The parrot has an omnivorous diet consisting mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar and insects. Once killed for bounty beacause they preyed on livestock, especially sheep, the kea has received full protection since 1986.
Kea are legendary for their intelligence and curiosity, both vital to their survival in a harsh mountain environment. They can solve logical puzzles, such as pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get to food, and will work cooperatively to achieve an objective.
Native kea are attracted by the prospect of food scraps. Naturally curious, they frequently peck at and carry away unguarded objects and items of clothing, or pry apart rubber parts of cars - to the entertainment and annoyance of human observers.
Kea are social and live in groups of up to 13. Isolated individuals do badly in captivity but respond well to mirror images.
The kea is one of seven parrot species endemic to New Zealand. The other mainland species include kaka, kakapo three species of kakariki, and red, orange and yellow-crowned parakeet.
Bird conservation in New Zealand
Iconic New Zealand birds
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