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How Parrots in New Zealand Literally Stop the Traffic

Workers in New Zealand were completely baffled recently when traffic cones kept moving on a busy road. The cones were being placed in the middle of the road and so were obstructing the traffic. This seemed to be a rather annoying prank on the part of local youths. But CCTV footage revealed that it was actually a group of kea birds which were relocating the cones.

What are Keas?

Keas are a species of parrot which are native to New Zealand. They live in the Alpine regions of South Island and are the only parrot in the world to live in this climate. They are renowned for their exceptional intelligence which they use to source their food. In tests, these birds have demonstrated that they can solve complex puzzles to access treats and they have been observed working in teams to accomplish tasks. Keas are endangered and so are a fully protected species.

So a group of Keas were dragging traffic cones into the middle of the road, but why?

Clever Plot to Gain a Meal

The CCTV footage suggests that the birds were using the cones as obstructions to force cars to stop. The birds were clearly hoping that the cars’ occupants would then feed them! The birds appeared to be listening for approaching vehicles and then moving the cones into the road. The road is at the heart of a busy tourist route used by travellers to make trips to the Milford Sound. The birds had clearly worked out that stationary tourists means food.

Tunnel Vision

The footage was taken at one end of a one-way tunnel, where the flow of traffic alternates between either end. Cars stops for a few minutes at a time as the traffic alternates. The observant birds found a way to make it stop for longer and were even using the tunnel as cover!

Heavier traffic cones are now being considered to foil the birds in case their actions result in an accident. Shame!

It is always amazing to discover just how intelligent parrots can be. This episode demonstrates that these birds can, indeed, solve complex puzzles and that they can work together to achieve their goals. They are certainly capable of confusing mere humans!


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