The kākā is a large parrot. Flocks of boisterous kākā gather in the early morning and late evening to socialise - their antics and raucous voices were well known to Maori. Kākā are acknowledged as one of the most musical of all parrots with a variety of melodic whistles and warbles along with the more typical parrot-like screeches. Their diet includes berries of all kinds, seeds, the nectar of kōwhai, rātā, flax and beech honeydew. They also like grubs and are often seen digging invertebrates from rotten logs. Kākā play an important role in the forest by pollinating flowers. They require large tracts of forest to survive and habitat loss from forest clearance for agriculture and logging has had a devastating effect.
Also, having evolved in the absence of mammalian predators, kākā have many characteristics that make them easy prey. Predators such as stoats, rats and possums eat chicks and eggs. Browsing by introduced pests such as possums, deer and pigs has reduced the abundance of food. Introduced wasps compete with kākā for honeydew which is an essential part of their diet, especially if they are to breed.
The Department of Conservation has a national programme to co-ordinate Kaka recovery and captive bred birds are beginning to be released into the wild.