The cunning birds have been moving traffic cones in the middle of the road to slow down motorists so they can scrounge for scraps.
Traffic authorities released a video this week to show how the New Zealand parrots called Keas have been deploying the cones on highways.
The short clip posted on YouTube by the New Zealand Transport Agency reveals how adept the birds are at moving bright red cones almost twice their size into the middle of the road.
Explaining the footage, the NZ Transport Agency said one of its teams had been left puzzled in recent weeks to find cones turning up in odd places and only discovered what was happening when they inspected CCTV.
The agency said: “The endearing but mischievous kea have been taking matters into their own talons in an effort – it is thought – to get drivers to slow down or stop and then to feed them.
“The team are going to trial some heavier road cones to try and discourage this new kea behaviour.
“People are encouraged not to feed these endangered birds or encourage their activity near traffic for their own good.”
Kea are a highly specialised species of parrot found only in New Zealand. They are among the most intelligent of all birds and have adapted to life in harsh mountain terrain over millions of years but are now running into problems by using their brainpower to exploit a love-hate relationship with mankind.
The organisation said: “Kea are unusual in that they actively seek out and interact with people and their property.”
The Kea Conservation Trust adds: “This ‘neophilia’ – love of new things – has brought people into conflict with kea to an extent which is unprecedented with other endemic avian species.”
Kea are known to attack sheep, using their powerful beaks to bite through thick woolly fleeces to feed on the animals’ fatty layers. Bounties placed on the parrots by the authorities have seen more than 150,000 of the birds slaughtered.
Damaging property, particularly car windscreen wipers and rubber fittings, has also become one of their most destructive habits.
Even the long arm of the law does stop the birds from vandalism. A video posted on YouTube shows two kea doing their best to destroy a police car.