Kiwi Bird (National Bird of New Zealand)

kiwi bird | kiwi bird facts

Kiwi is a significant national icon and equally cherished bird, by all the people of New Zealand. Kiwi is a symbol of the oneness of New Zealand wildlife and the natural heritage of the country. The bird itself has a treasure to Maori, who have a cultural, historical, and spiritual connection with kiwi.

What does a kiwi look like?

Kiwis are short flightless birds with longs and beak. They look like they are covered with fur, but they have thin hair-like feathers. Emu, ostrich, cassowary, and rhea are considered to be their closest relatives. The muscular legs of kiwi can make up around a third of its total body weight. Kiwis are the only birds who have nostrils on the top of their beaks. Most of the birds have noses close to their face. They have small eyes, and on each of their foot, they have four toes that allow these flightless birds to pad silently in the forest. Regardless of their size, kiwi can surpass a human which is quite suspicious.

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Where can you find kiwi?

Kiwi bird location is only in New Zealand, where they prefer to live in forests, grasslands, and scrublands. They rest in burrows, hollow logs, or under dense vegetation. 

How many species of kiwis are there?

Following are the five types of kiwi birds

  • Southern brown kiwi
  • Great spotted kiwi
  • Northern brown kiwi
  • Little spotted kiwi
  • Okarito brown kiwi

What is the size of the kiwi?

The five species of kiwi, the largest in the northern brown kiwi, can grow up to 20 to 25 inches and weigh from 3.2 to 11 pounds. At the same time, the smallest kiwi species is the little spotted kiwi that grows up to 14 to 18 inches and weighs around 4.3 pounds. 

However, kiwi bird wings are tiny, which is around 1 inch. Each side has a small claw on the tip, though the nails are of known use.

What does kiwi eat?

Kiwis are omnivorous, and their diet includes worms, bugs, berries, seeds, and grubs. They find their food with the help of their excellent sense of smell. 

Kiwi bird reproduction: (kiwi bird egg)

Sometimes kiwis mate for life, though, the female often finds a male she likes better and leaves her current spouse. Kiwis are known to have one of the most significant egg-to-body weight ratios. An egg is about 15 percent of the female’s body weight. However, it can be up to 20 percent of her body weight comparable to 120 pounds of women giving birth to 24 pounds of baby. The female kiwi lay one to two eggs at a time. 

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Their eggs have antibacterial and antifungal properties to prevent bacteria and fungi common in the moist regions of New Zealand. Until the eggs hatch, the male will sit in the pair on the eggs. The gestation period in a female kiwi is between 75 to 85 days.

Dissimilar to other birds, chicks kick their eggs open and are covered in feathers as soon they hatch. They look like their parents. After some days, the chick will leave the burrow and hang out with their father for almost 20 days. However, 95 percent of the kiwi’s chick does not make it up to their adulthood.

Kiwi Bird Facts:

  • Kiwis have the lowest body temperature of any bird; their body temperature goes to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • These birds got their name from the sounds of their calls. They communicate with each other by making ‘kee-wee, kee-wee’ sounds.
  • Kiwi is thought to be the most ancient bird emerging over 30 million years ago.
  • The Maori language word kiwi is usually accepted to be ‘of imitative origin’ from the cell.
  • This tradition also believes that kiwis were under the protection of Tane Mahuta, the god of the forest.
  • The kiwi is classified as ratite along with emu, ostrich, rhea, and cassowary.
  • The kiwi as a symbol first came in the late 19th century in New Zealand regimental badges. 
  • After it featured in the badges of the South Canterbury Battalion in 1886 and the Hastings Rifle Volunteers in 1887. 
  • Soon after the kiwi bird appeared in many military badges and kiwi shoe polish was sold widely in the UK and USA, the symbol became popular. 
  • A small Chinese gooseberry, which was native to South Asia, was introduced in 1908 in New Zealand. 
  • In 1960, the growers began to call it kiwifruit to give it a more trade appeal. 

Kiwi bird behavior: (About Kiwi Bird)

Generally, kiwis are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and remain active at night. Throughout the night, they spend their time scouring for food. When they are not searching for food, they protect their territory. Kiwi will leave behind highly odorous droppings to mark their territory. The only other kiwi allowed in its region is its spouse, youth, and adult children. If the kiwis reach out in each other’s area, they will fight. 

How long do kiwi birds live?

In the wild, kiwi’s lifespan is around 20 to 30 years while in captivity, they can survive up to 40 years.

Are kiwi birds endangered?

Under the IUCN, the southern brown kiwi and the dark-spotted kiwi are listed as vulnerable. Whereas the northern brown kiwi and the Okarito kiwi are classified as endangered. Although the population of north kiwi is stable and the community of Okarito kiwi is increasing. 

However, according to the New Zealand Department of conservation, the country is losing around 2 percent of unmanaged kiwi every year. There are about 68,000 total kiwis in New Zealand.

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