Could You Save the Endangered Kakapo?

kakapo, flightless parrot, parrot face, critically endangered species

Kakapo  Photo by Kimberley Collins on Flickr

Given this is a website about saxophones, the title of this article might seem a bit obscure at first glance. However, make no mistake about it, the kakapo is in big trouble, and wildlife conservationists are doing everything in their power to try to save them—including some out of the box thinking that involves playing them romantic, saxy music to get busy by.

Ah huh, I kid you not. Meridian Energy of New Zealand—one of NZ’s largest alternative energy companies— was actively recruiting a saxophonist who “[would] professionally record a piece of music for the cause, [and receive] a $1,000 NZD voucher.”  In order to be considered for the gig, the player had to provide an audition video.

According to the job posting Meridian put on its site:

We’re aware that the effect of saxophones on kakapo might not yet be scientifically proven, but with only 147 birds left, we reckon it’s worth a punt.2

Now if this seems tempting to you, I’m sorry to inform you that the job has already been filled.

According to Meridian Energy’s website:

Congratulations to Piers Dashfield of Wellington, the successful applicant for our saxophonist job. We found Piers’ audition had just the right amount of saxiness to help us get kakapo in the mood.

There are only 147 of the birds left, but together with DOC, innovations like Smart Eggs, and Piers’ saxy skills we hope to have a few more kakapo chicks this breeding season.

We’d like to thank everybody for the overwhelming amount of applications. We didn’t know there were so many talented saxophonists out there!

We’ll be heading to the studio with Piers over the coming days to record our saxy song. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about Smart Eggs or the Kakapo Recovery Programme, click below.

Now I love birds. I also have a fair amount of experience with parrots, and even have one that has chosen me has his person. So I was most curious what this kakapo was, since it’s not a species of parrot that I can recall ever hearing about.

kakapo, flightless parrot, hand-fed parrot, critically endangered species

Kakapo being hand-fed  Photo by Kimberley Collins on Flickr

So it seems the kakapo is a large, flightless parrot that lives in the forests of New Zealand. Thanks to human intrusions, and the introduction of predators (cats, rats, and other animals we people attract) their population has been decimated to the point that they are now critically endangered.

There are now only 147 birds remaining, and all are named and have radio collars. The entire population of kakapo have been relocated to an island where they are monitored by conservationists. 3,4

kakapo, flightless parrot, parrot face, hand-fed parrot, critically endangered species

Kakapo being hand-fed  Photo by Kimberley Collins on Flickr

In order to try to build the species’ numbers up again, all kinds of innovative ideas are being tried. Everything from smart eggs, to well, yes, sexy saxophone music to help get them In The Mood. 

I hope Piers Dashfield lays down some really sexy, saxy tracks that help this critically endangered parrot feel romantic enough to want to create more of its own kind. Despite everything we humans have done to stack the odds against them, combined with the birds’ naturally infrequent mating season, Dashfield’s sax tracks might just be the thing to turn the kakapo into a love bird. Because if there’s one thing we know, parrots seem to love music….


Wanted: saxophonist to help get endangered bird… ahem, ‘in the mood’, Source: 14 January 2019, Classic FM

2 ibid

Kakapo wiki page

 New Zealand Birds Online4

© 2019, Helen. All rights reserved.


Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.

One Comment:

  1. 147 is good news, in 2012 there were only 124 kakapo`s.
    Here is a sound bite of the birds call, they have fast tonguing techniques.

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