Shy, Nocturnal, Endangered: All About the Kiwi Bird
The New Zealand Exclusive, the Kiwi!
It's more than the symbol of New Zealand, it's the smallest ratite known! What's a ratite? It's a group of flightless birds that are for the most part extinct. The five species of kiwis known are Great Spotted Kiwi (or Roroa), Little Spotted Kiwi, Okarito Brown Kiwi (or Rowi), Tokoeka, North Island Brown Kiwi.
Picture courtesy of National Geographic.
What are Kiwis Like?
Mating habits, diet and appearance of the kiwi
These shy, nocturnal and often secretive forest creatures range from 9-17 inches in height, depending upon the variety. Kiwis do not rely on their eyesight as much as they do their highly developed sense of smell, which makes them very alert. This helps them search out food in the form of insects, grubs, and worms with their long bill, which is equipped with nostrils (a unique feature in birds). They also don't have to see their prey to catch it.
Kiwis Mate for Life
Above: Great Spotted Kiwi, South Island, NZ Photographic Print
They usually remain monogamous and pick a pair to mate with their entire 20-year or so life. Kiwis mate in the winter months of June through March (remember, winter down under is opposite of the Northern Hemisphere!). Burrowing in tree trunks and secluded forest areas, kiwis will nest for their average of one egg per season. Kiwi eggs typically are around 25% of the weight of the larger female. After an eleven week incubation period, during which the male incubates, the small kiwi chick is born. After surviving off the yolk for a number of days, the kiwi will venture out of the nest along with the father to search out food for the first time. The kiwi's long, sharp, 3-toed feet allow it protection against predators.
Where are their wings?
Kiwis don't look like they have wings, but they do. For this reason, the wing has receded under the bristly feathers that resemble hair. They are closed related to the emu, another flightless New Zealand bird. They also belong to the same family of birds in which you'll find ostriches, casowaries, and rheas.
They're a bit elusive...
Kiwis can be a difficult animal to photograph. They're shy and like their privacy, so photographs aren't all that abundant of this animal. They're declining population makes it even more difficult!
If you're not from New Zealand...
...you may not know that New Zealand residents often refer to themselves as "kiwis."
- Make a Donation to Help Save the Kiwi
Every penny of your donation will go directly to helping Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi initiatives to help stop the decline of kiwi.
- Kiwis at U.S. Zoos
Several zoos in the United States have kiwi birds on display. Find out which ones on this informative web page!
- All of the Lenses by Kiwisoutback!
From topics ranging from endangered species to search engines, you'll find plenty to keep you reading!
- There are less than 70,000 kiwi remaining in New Zealand
Only by raising awareness of the need to control and eradicate predators and by highlighting the threat to kiwi and their possible loss from the mainland can we carry on protecting this bird.
- Kiwi Cam
See the baby kiwi while it's still a baby!
Kiwi YouTube Videos
Are they Endangered?
Yes, all kiwis are endangered and in decline. The Okarito Brown Kiwi is critically endangered with an estimated 250 birds left, while the North Island Brown Kiwi's conservation status is endangered. All other kiwis are in the "threatened" status of endangered, largely in part to introduced predators to the New Zealand area such as dogs, and of course, humans, through loss of habitat and automobiles. How can you help? Visit the Save the Kiwi website to make a donation to help these rare birds!
A Kiwi Poll... - Take our poll on this endangered New Zealand bird!
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© 2008 Kiwisoutback