03 September 2008

The Kea Story

Once upon a time Sherry and Eric (Sheric) were driving on the Milford Road- the only land-route to the spectacular Milford Sound. The terrain was so stunning that they stopped at a scenic look-out point to get a few pictures and really absorb the beautiful environment. They happened to be the only ones at this particular spot.

Except for the kea.

"Look! It's a bird just perched on the ledge there," Sherry pointed.

"I think it's a parrot, "said Eric. "Oh, look, it's coming closer to us."

Before the car had even come to a halt, the bird waddled over.

Eric and Sherry hesitated for a moment and watched the bird from inside the car. Eric was amused at what a "friendly" bird it was, and Sherry was concerned by this overt "friendliness." After a moment, the happy couple lost sight of the bird and assumed it had lost interest in them.

Not so!

While the couple was looking out the driver's side windows, where they had last seen the bird, it perched on the passenger's side mirror staring intently (and probably maliciously) at Sherry.

Now, this is no small bird, mind you. It stood about 10 inches tall, with a long curved beak, and particularly long talons. Sherry was so startled by the bird that she let out a heart-felt scream of terror. After a few seconds she realized she needed to take a photo, but by the time the camera turned on, the bird had hopped down.

Eric then got out of the car. And filmed the bird as it followed him around. He hadn't had so much fun with a bird since his pet duck, Lewey. After a fair amount of hesitation Sherry got out of the car and took photos of the scenery, Eric and the bird. She was careful to keep her distance.

Unfortunately, the bird was not having as much fun with Eric as Eric was having with him. By this time Sheric had looked in their Fjordlands brochure to learn that this bird was a kea, an alpine parrot known for being particularly cheeky and bold.

As Eric and Sherry took in the extraordinary views the curious kea hopped on the car and began gnawing on the windshield wiper with his beak. Although the bird was (obviously) toothless, Sheric was (were?) worried about the damage the bird would do to the car. In an effort to distract the bird, Eric did the unthinkable-

He tossed half a cookie to the pavement to lure the bird away from the car. From then on the bird was particularly interested in following Eric around, and he didn't lose interest at all.
Even as Sheric loaded back into the car to continue the journey to Milford Sound the bird was still curious. By this time another couple had arrived at the look-out spot, but the little kea was completely addicted to Eric and his liberal distribution of oatmeal cookies. (To be fair Eric only tossed the bird half a cookie, but the bird was definitely hooked).

Seated in the car Eric realized he left the keys in the hatchback. As he grabbed the door handle to hop out and grab the keys, what did he behold but the kea perched on his mirror! Much squealing ensued, from both members of the party, primarily because Eric's window was open about two inches and the kea was working hard to figure out how to stick his beak in the window. They knew they needed to make a speedy getaway.

In a moment mixed with both utter terror and sheer genius Sherry forgot that she had her own set of keys in her coat pocket, so she opened her door and tossed a cookie as far as she could throw. It gave Eric just enough time to jump out of the car, dash to the back, retrieve the keys, start the engine and leave the kea in their dust.

The very next look-out point was rather small, and it had no keas, so Sheric stopped. There they saw a rather large sign displayed all about the kea- how curious they are, how intelligent they are, how friendly they are, and how humans are not supposed to feed them. Especially not their "high energy" and "junk foods."



Dusty and Amy said...

This is SO funny!!

Kristy said...

Yeah, I definitely giggled through this one. Animals are so funny and you are so funny.

Alice said...

You see what happens when you are too good the birds? I wonder how my dogs and cats would react to these birds being they are always bring these toys to me dead!

Karina Morales said...

I'm sure there was some fine print that said it's ok to feed them if it's in efforts to save yourself from them :)

John said...

You two are probably the kind of people who would try to pet the bears in Yellostone

Alicia K said...

Ha ha. These birds are known for ripping things off cars. Drop something shiny on the ground like car keys, and you'll be lucky to get them back. When i was skiing once i had one take off with my glove that i only just took off. i love keas