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Kiwi Birds

Updated on October 14, 2014

An Introduction to Kiwi Birds

The Kiwi bird is unique to New Zealand and is a national symbol of the country. Kiwi gifts are a common find when travelling through the country. However, seeing a live kiwi is much more rare than the many stuffed or porcelain ones found in stores. These shy birds are rarely seen in the wild and any visitors who come across one should consider themselves extremely lucky!

Kiwis are nocturnal, though it is thought that this is partly because of their habitats being invaded by predators. In sheltered areas such as zoos and sanctuaries, they will come out in the daylight. This is also your best bet for seeing a live kiwi.

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The Kiwi Bird's Appearance

What does it look like?

The kiwi bird is unique from any other bird on the planet. It has a long, narrow beak that is the length of one third of its body. It uses this remarkable feature to dig through the ground for worms. It is also the only bird to have nostrils at the end of it's beak. It is almost entirely blind, so these nostrils come in very handy for sniffing out food. Kiwi birds have very thick, brown feathers and no tail.

It's possible they look so strange to us because they haven't adapted very much over the last 8 million years. Because New Zealand is so isolated and they have no natural predators, the kiwi bird hasn't needed to evolve.

Kiwi Gifts - Some unique presents

Are you looking for the perfect gift for the kiwi bird lover in your life? Try one of these! You'll certainly find more variety if you go to New Zealand itself (kiwi bird gifts are in literally every store), but this the next best thing if you don't want to fly thousands of miles.

Personalized Case for Galaxy S3 Siii - KIWI BIRD - Engraved for Free
Personalized Case for Galaxy S3 Siii - KIWI BIRD - Engraved for Free

This bright case will protect and decorate your phone. No one else will have one!

TY Beanie Buddy - BEAK the Kiwi Bird
TY Beanie Buddy - BEAK the Kiwi Bird

TY comes through again with an adorable kiwi beanie.


Some Kiwi Bird Facts

A little about them

It used to be thought that the kiwi bird was most closely related to the extinct Moa of New Zealand. However, recent DNA tests have found their closest relatives are in fact the Australian Emu and Cassowary. The theory is that the kiwi's ancestors migrated sometime long after the Moa arrived in New Zealand. All of these birds are ratites, which means they are flightless. Kiwis likely evolved to be a flightless bird because they have no natural predators in New Zealand. The only indigenous mammals of the islands are bats; all other mammals are introduced by humans.

While their flightlessness was not a problem in the past, they are now in danger because of humans and intorduced predators. Dogs and other animals will hunt this small bird which has no way to protect itself. The kiwi bird must also face habitat encroachment and the ever present danger of cars. While there are an increasing number of protected areas, the unique bird is still in danger and needs our continued protection.

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Saving the Kiwi - Our responsibility

Check out this fascinating video about saving the endangered kiwi.

Species of Kiwi

Quite the range

Of the five species of kiwi, one is critically endangered, one is endangered, and two are vulnerable. This is largely because of introduced predators, though deforestation has also played a role.

The largest type of kiwi is the Great Spotted Kiwi, which is found in the south island. They can weight 7.3 pounds (3.3 kg) and can grow as tall as 45 cm (18 in). On the other end of the spectrum is the Little Spotted Kiwi. At only 25 cm (9.8 in) and 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg), it has become extinct on the mainland due to introduced predators. However, it still lives on some of the small islands of New Zealand and attempts at establishing new colonies have so far been successful. Other species include the Okarito Kiwi, the Southern Brown Kiwi, and the Northern Island Brown Kiwi.

Photo by Miss_Rogue used under Creative Commons License.

More Kiwi Gifts - Even more cool options

If you're still looking for the perfect kiwi bird present, try one of these!

Silver Pendant Kiwi Bird 13x16mm
Silver Pendant Kiwi Bird 13x16mm

This gem could make a great necklace for any kiwi lover.

CleverEve Bird Themed 14K Yellow Gold Hummingbird Pendant 2.7 Grams
CleverEve Bird Themed 14K Yellow Gold Hummingbird Pendant 2.7 Grams

Another option for a necklace or even a bracelet.


Have you seen a Kiwi? - Share your experience

Let us know if you've had the opportunity to see this unique and special bird.

Have you ever seen a Kiwi bird?

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Meet the Kiwi - Such a cutie

Want to see a kiwi in action? Watch this cute video of a kiwi searching the ground for bugs.

Kiwi Books - More reading

Want to know more about the kiwi? Check out some of these books.

Leave a Comment! - Tell me what you think

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    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      What a shame they are so endangered. B

    • SianaL profile image

      SianaL 4 years ago

      I adore Kiwis!

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      One of the best places to see Kiwi's is in Otorohanga - they have an amazing sanctuary there, right in the town.