|The brown kiwi is a strange looking creature that
at first glance barely resembles a bird. It has no visible wings. Instead,
it has short, thick legs and coarse feathers that look like fur. The brown
kiwi is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated and unusual birds. It spends
the day fast asleep in a spot concealed by undergrowth or logs. Unable to
fly, it probes and scraps for its food at night among the fallen leaves covering
the forest floor.
Habits: The peculiar habits and odd
appearance of the brown kiwi owe much to the isolation of New Zealand’s North
and South islands. In most places a flightless bird of the kiwi’s size –
about the size of a hen – would be easy prey for flesh eating mammals. But
until settlers arrived with domestic animals, land mammals could not even
reach New Zealand. In the absence of mammals, some New Zealand birds developed
habits normally associated with mammals. The brown kiwi, for example, cannot
fly and feeds on insects at night.
Breeding: The female produces one or two huge eggs, which may weigh more than one-sixth of her body weight. Each contains a large, nutritious yolk that lasts for the long incubation and provides the hatching chick with food. The female lays her eggs in a hole among dense vegetation, between tree roots, or in a hollow log. Her mate incubates them for 11 weeks – the longest incubation period of any bird. By hatching time each chick is open eyed and fully feathered. Within a week it can leave the nest alone to gather food for itself.
Brown Kiwi and Man: Early Maori settlers of New Zealand prized the feathers of the kiwi for use in decorative cloaks. They also hunted the bird for its meat. Today the kiwi is the country’s national emblem, and New Zealanders often refer to themselves as “Kiwis.” But now the kiwi’s survival is threatened by the clearing of forest and by land mammals introduced by modern settlers. It has few defenses against such egg thieving mammals as rats and ferrets.
Food and Feeding: The kiwi uses the pair of very sensitive nostrils at the tip of its bill to find food and locate fellow birds. Its good senses of hearing and touch also help it secure food. The kiwi’s diet includes insects, worms, berries, fruit, and occasionally small reptiles or amphibians. To find food, it scratches through dead leaves with its powerful claws or probes the soil with its bill to smell and feel for invertebrate prey.
Related Species: There are 2 other species of kiwi, both in New Zealand: the great spotted kiwi, Apteryx haastii, and the little spotted kiwi, A. owenii.
Distribution: Found in New Zealand, on South Island, Stewart Island, and parts of North Island.
Conservation: The brown kiwi is threatened by the destruction of its habitat and by predatory and competitive species. It still survives in large numbers in some areas, especially in protected reserves.
Features of the Brown Kiwi:
Did You Know:
All material copyright ©1996-2018
Ladywildlife©..& mcmxci imp b/imp
inc. wildlife fact files tm