Photo courtesy of Sirocco the Kakapo’s Facebook page.

New Zealand’s kakapo is probably the best parrot. It has the face and personality of Walter Matthau. It likes to sit in a hole and make loud noises. It regularly tries to get it on with human heads. What’s not to like? NOTHING, so we’re really glad it’s managing to struggle back from the brink of extinction.

The kakapo above, Sirocco, is not just randomly taking his sexual frustrations out on noted British zoologists. He’s become accustomed to humping heads by decades of conservationists trying to collect kakapo sperm using specially designed hats. (Well, not lots of decades … Sirocco is 25 years old, although kakapos can live to be 90. And supposedly they don’t use the sperm-hats anymore, so maybe Sirocco is just particularly perverse.)

When not trying to impregnate dudes in the ear, kakapos mate by digging a shallow bowl in the dirt, then sitting in it and “booming.”

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These peculiar and occasionally misdirected mating habits have not done the species any favors — in 1990, there were only 50 left. (To be fair, we can mostly — as usual — blame humans and invasive species for that, plus the fact that the kakapo is the fattest, unwieldiest bird since the similarly unfortunate dodo.) Now, though, there are 126 of the birds at the two existing sanctuaries. Rangers are starting up another sanctuary this year.

The birds are still critically endangered, but the outlook has gotten significantly sunnier, thanks to a lot of very hands-on (and probably heads-on) conservation efforts.

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