Kakapow! Rare world's fattest parrot has record breeding season

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The world's fattest parrot, the critically endangered kakapo, has enjoyed a record breaking breeding season. New Zealand scientists said that climate change is possibly aiding the species' unique mating spree.

Less than 50 years after the flightless nocturnal bird was thought to have been extinct, at least 75 chicks are expected to survive this year. Scientists state that the last of 249 eggs laid as part of a breeding programme will hatch tomorrow.

This will significantly boost the population which has grown to 147 adults since a small number of the plump green, yellow and black birds was discovered in 1970.

The kakapo is an "unusual" parrot as the females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when New Zealand's native rimu trees are full of fruit.

The rimu trees have produced a bumper crop this year. One theory was that climate change and temperature fluctuations could be behind the berry bonanza. The surviving kakapo whose name means "night parrot" in Maori are kept on four predator-free islands off the New Zealand coast.

At the start of the breeding season, the males which weigh about four kilograms, put themselves on display while the females choose a partner. They mate and then end the relationship, shutting the male out of the incubation and rearing processes.

New Zealand's kakapo recovery programme is so tightly monitored that although they remain in the wild, each one has a radio transmitter attached to its body and there are monitoring systems embedded in their nests. It is claimed that kakapo is probably one of the most intensively managed species in the world. (AIR NEWS)

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