This large parrot was named Kakapo by the Maori of New Zealand. European colonists called it "owl parrot". The species was once widespread in New Zealand's beech forests and nearby grasslands.
Hunting has long affected population levels: practically flightless, Kakapos were easy prey for the Polynesians of 800 years ago. Much of the bird's habitat was destroyed by European settlement in the 1800s. Introduced species also took a toll: predators such as the stoat directly reduced Kakapo populations, and deer damaged the bird's remaining habitat.
By the early 1970s, there were about 218 birds left. The species continued to decline. Kakapo management and breeding programmes were established. The remaining birds were moved offshore to island sanctuaries. By 1995 the population was down to 51 birds, but by 2003, this number had grown to 86.
Generally, Kakapos are about 63 cm (25 in.) long. Males are larger than females.