Beautiful Feathers!

Patricia Latas
May 14, 2014 share
Artists for Conservation

The kakapo is such a unique parrot. There are so many attributes that distinguish this species from all others. The lovely plumage is the first thing to be noticed.


The Kakapo is covered in soft, fluffy overcoat of mossy/ferny/foliagy green feathers. The underneath is a thick and dense layer of exquisite down. The plumage emits a lovely wafting musky scent. Each kakapo has unique coloration, but there are two general color phases: an emerald green and an olive green. The overall plumage blends so perfectly that a kakapo on the side of a trail is completely invisible.


Individual feathers are some of the most beautiful in the avian world. They are semi-transparent, but in the right light, stunningly jewel like tones of green, topaz, chocolate and white. Every part of the bird has a particular color patter. The primares and tail feathers are intercately patterned and gender-specific. The makle has a patch of red feathers in his "arm-pit" that also reflects UV light.


The cryptic coloration that gives them an" invisibility cloak" was probably evolved to protect from aerial pedators. Before humans arrived in New Zealand, the only mammals present were bats. All the other warm-blooded fauna were avians. The primary predators were large eagles and hawks and owls, and possibly weka and weka-like birds. Kakapo were peobably on everyone's menu. So they evolved into large, quiet, nocturnal and cryptic parrots. Their first instinct is to hold very still, then run and climb if pressured.


Their feathers are infinitely fascinating and beautiful. I would sketch them all if I had the time, and never be bored.



Letting go. or catching?




Colorful primary and tail feathers





contour feathers from ventrum





contour feathers from dorsum




Left side primary




Right side primary





Tail feather broken about half-way





Pin feathers coming in on a young chick




Codfish Island, Southland, New Zealand
New Zealand
| Print friendly Email to a friend | Add a Comment   | Subscribe: Subscribe to email notifications Subscribe to RSS feed
© Copyright 2020 Artists for Conservation Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. "Artists for Conservation", "AFC" and the butterfly logo are registered trademarks of Artists for Conservation Foundation, Inc. AFC International Foundation is a registered charity in Canada (860891761 RR 0001).