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12 surprising flightless birds

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 2, 2017, 11:34 a.m.
The kakapo is a flightless parrot species that has been the center of an extraordinary conservation effort.

Photo: Mnolf/Wikipedia

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Kakapo

The kakapo is a parrot species from New Zealand that stands out in several ways. First and foremost, it is the world's only flightless parrot. It is also nocturnal, which is a unique trait among parrot species. It is the heaviest parrot species in the world, which makes sense considering it doesn't have to stay light to be able to take flight.

But what really makes this bird stand out is its amazing conservation story. Gathered by the thousands for museums and collections around the world, and facing new predators including stoats, cats and rats introduced as humans arrived to the islands it calls home, this species was nearly wiped off the planet. But a handful of dedicated people have worked tirelessly over the last century to create a breeding program to save the remaining parrots and boost their numbers.

Today there are only around 126 individual birds alive on the planet, but with them there is still hope that this unique and charismatic species can survive.