“The Boss” and Edwin – a tale of two kea in Mt Aspiring National Park

above: "The Boss" of three kea resident near Aspiring Hut in the West Matukituki valley, Mt Aspiring National Park Mar 2017 ~  photo southern light
above: “The Boss” of three kea resident near Aspiring Hut in the West Matukituki valley, Mt Aspiring National Park Mar 2017 ~  photo southern light

A few weeks ago I was involved in the capture and subsequent banding of a young kea. Probably a male, but that is not a certainty with any youngster.

At the time while recording the banding with a camera, I was struck on how he took being held in his stride, and when relaxed started looking about the hut we were in, sizing it up with what seemed like a daunting intelligence.

The plastic band was coloured green and printed on this bling was the character “E” in white. So on the books he became “white E on green”. Since then he’s become quite my friend so I’ve named him Edwin. Time and again ‘tho he’s tried as one of a party of three, to enter the hut once more, perhaps feigning friendship to do so!

He showed his true colours for my camera on a rainy Sat. recently when three experienced trampers called by on their way out of the valley…

Edwin again
Edwin somewhat precociously approaches a tramper, and at this point he’s like a kid in a candy store challenged by many choices that engage his curiosity
Kea boss edwin 3
The game continues as the tramper moves off the deck
Edwin again 2
It’s game on – he knows all about hands (that held him gently and firmly), but these ones are different, and he’s not afraid to do a “beak” test on the consistency and texture
Kea boss edwin 2
Since the owner of the hand is well aware Edwin could draw blood, to Edwin’s satisfaction a wet boot and assisting lace is offered
Edwin again follows
As the trampers depart, perhaps fearful of their boot’s being eaten, Edwin decides to follow
Kea boss edwin 4
But Edwin returned! I think he knew his value as a “bad hair day” model! Either way he is an endearing character

So that’s an insight into Edwin’s personality, but what of the squadron of like minded kea he is a player in?

As it turns out the other two birds ignore him until his (superior) intelligence manifesting as curiosity finds him poking his nose into anything new.

Suddenly the others sit up and take notice and if the subject of his attention is deemed worthy, a much older kea brushes Edwin aside and takes ownership of the situation. Edwin is smart enough to back off from the aged and experienced beak of the bird I now call “the boss”. Anyway he (Edwin) has a greater purpose, and is soon off to the next phenomena demanding his attention.