Utah’s Tracy Aviary creating love stories for endangered kea, who like to choose life partners

Feb 14, 2024, 9:18 PM | Updated: Feb 15, 2024, 9:54 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Workers at the Tracy Aviary are adding a new skill to their resumes: matchmaker.

The aviary is protecting an endangered species by cultivating bird-pairing relationships with a facility for lovebirds. The rare birds are a species found only in New Zealand, called the kea. They are part of the world’s only alpine parrots and are one of the most intelligent birds in the world.

Like many of the humans strolling through the aviary on Valentine’s Day, the green-feathered creatures seek life-long companions, which is why the Tracy Aviary is helping them find love.

“Kea tend to bond for life,” said Allie Abel, agriculture manager at the aviary. And the aviary is one of the only places set up to help the birds find a suitable match.

“We have a bunch of young kea come here to Tracy Aviary, (they) grow up together and kind of build their relationships from a young age, decide who they want to pair with.”

But the birds have a reputation.

“They get into everything, so they’ll pull roofing nails out of roofs,” Abel said.

“They’re naughty birds,” aviary visitor Connor Beazley said. “They like to rip off your windshield wipers.”

“Keas are very special to Connor because his mom is from New Zealand,” visitor Aidan Dean said. Wednesday was the first time they learned that Keas, like humans, long for a life partner.

“I hope they fall in love,” Beazley said.

One of the birds currently in the Utah exhibit is the product of the program.

“We sent Arthur and Ikaroa over to the Sedgwick Zoo in Wichita, Kansas,” Abel said. “And there they successfully bred and raised Tahi, who is this young fella.”

Even though the kea are known to ruffle some feathers, the charismatic, clever birds like to choose who they’ll match with.

“When you just put one and one together, it’s less successful,” Abel said. And only so many zoos have the space and ability to house a flock that allows the choosing process to happen.

“We matched on Tinder first … so this is kind of like Tinder for birds,” Dean said.

“I think it’s amazing that they’ve got the good facility here to do it, and hopefully we’ll make some true matches,” visitor Rudy Albachten said.

Kea require a lot of attention, time and enrichment toys.

“They have a similar intelligence level to 5-to-7-year-old human children,” Abel said.

Along with keeping the intelligent birds happy and healthy, aviary keepers watch for signs of a love match. They hope that keeps the chicks coming.

“They might preen through each other’s feathers,” Dean said.  “They’ve got a little ‘Love Island’ going on.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

You’ve likely noticed a growing number of businesses that have gone completely cashless. When it ...

Matt Gephardt

Businesses are passing their credit card fees onto customers, what can you do?

You’ve likely noticed a growing number of businesses that have gone completely cashless. When it comes time to pay, it’ll involve a tap, swipe or maybe a click on an app. It's a phenomenon that is contributing to the price we pay for goods and services.

53 minutes ago

Juan Diego Catholic High Principal Galey Colosimo speaks to the Utah High School Activities Associa...

Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

Big changes proposed for Utah high school sports involving local, international students

Some massive changes could be coming to high school sports in Utah.

1 hour ago

$20 bills...

Larry D. Curtis

Ring customers getting millions sent after suit by FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is sending millions of dollars to people who had an account with Ring, a home security camera company, through PayPal.

2 hours ago

A yellow plastic police line, blocking off a scene, and showing a blurred police car in the backgro...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Cause of Parowan teacher’s death ‘undetermined’

A recently completed report by the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office could not come up with a conclusive manner of death for a Parowan teacher who died in December.

3 hours ago

a destroyed home...

Lindsay Aerts

Only chimney remains after Utah house containing old dynamite, detonated in Holladay

A chimney and the smell of smoke was all that remained of a home in Holladay Wednesday after a significant amount of old dynamite was discovered inside.

4 hours ago

The Bear River pictured on April 24, 2024. On the topic of the Bear River's resources for water in ...

Mike Anderson and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

‘Sacrifices’ will need to be made from Bear River water supply to help Great Salt Lake

With the Bear River serving so many different purposes in the state of Utah, agricultural producers are trying to make sure their uses for the river aren't forgotten as lawmakers discuss the preservation of the Great Salt Lake.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Utah’s Tracy Aviary creating love stories for endangered kea, who like to choose life partners