Belonging to the order
Apterygiformes-Ratitae, the kiwi bird can be found
only in New Zealand. Although largely a bird of the
native forests of New Zealand, kiwis are also found
in native grasslands and scrubs. Because of the fact
that the kiwi is a secretive, semi-nocturnal bird,
not many New Zealanders have spotted the country’s
national bird in its natural habitat.
The sole survivor of its ancient bird order, the
kiwi has outlived the currently extinct moa.
Approximately as big as a domestic chicken, the
flightless kiwi bird has bristly, coarse, feathers
that resemble hair. Males are smaller than females.
Kiwis mature to approximately the size of a regular chicken
and are between 3 and 9 lbs. in weight. They are tailless
and have small 2-inch wings which are useless for all
purposes which are practical. Even though its appearance is
awkward, a kiwi can in fact outrun a human and have
endeavored to survive due to their preparedness and their
3-toed, sharp feet, which make it possible for them to kick
and lacerate a foe.
The long thin bill of the kiwi has nostrils at its
lower end. With the use of its flexible bill and
superior sense of smell, the kiwi feats worms,
grubs, and insects as well as leaves, seeds, and
There are 5 species of New Zealand kiwi and
3 of these are closely linked: Little Spotted Kiwi,
Brown Kiwi, and Great Spotted Kiwi.
The main nesting season is from the latter part of
winter to early summer. Nests are made under the
roots of trees, in hollow logs, in natural burrows
or holes dug mostly by the male. The majority of
clutches have one or a couple of eggs. Eggs are
colored greenish white or ivory and are quite
Proportionately, kiwi eggs are larger in relation to the
average size of the mother kiwi when compared with the eggs
of other bird species. A kiwi egg can weigh as much as
one-quarter as that of its mother.
After the laying of the first egg, the kiwi male becomes
responsible for incubation and the maintenance of the nest.
Normally, incubation takes about 11 weeks but in the event
that the female comes back to lay one more egg, the male has
to remain on the clutch for an even longer time.
Occasionally leaving the nest, the weight of the male may
decrease by as much as one third.
Before the arrival to New Zealand of the Maori, the
kiwi had no natural enemies. Even though the Maori
cherished the feathers of the kiwi for manufacturing
cloaks, the number of kiwis which were killed by the
Maori was most likely insignificant.
It was during the last part of previous century that
several thousands of kiwis were trapped by colonial
Europeans for museums, zoos, and personal
collections. Imported animals which ate kiwi, bush
clearing, traps for opossums, and motor vehicles
have all caused to the decline in the population of
Nevertheless, the kiwi has done significantly when compared
with other flightless birds such as the Takahe and Kakapo.
This bird’s survival is assured as long as appropriate
habitat is made available, and the ones that are striving
are left undisturbed.