New Zealand - The Kiwi TodayTweet
The kiwi is the smallest bird in the Ratite family. Other well-known Ratites include the rheas of South America, ostriches of Africa, the emu and cassowaries of Australia and and the extinct moa of New Zealand
There are many reasons for the decline of the Kiwi which is now fighting for its very survival. A combination of deforestation and increased farming have all taken their toll on the population. Introduced predators have also taken their toll with Kiwi chicks being most at risk as they leave the nest weighing in at 200 grams. While adults are less vunerable, they stand little chance against ferrets or dogs.
There are five identified distinct species of kiwi. Their population and distribution is approximately as follows:
- 1,200 Little Spotted Kiwi on the Kapiti Island nature reserve. A further 300 birds have been transferred to four smaller islands and the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington.
- 17,000 Great Spotted Kiwi are found in the north-west and Southern Alps of the South Island.
- 25,000 Brown Kiwi live in the North Island in four distinct populations.
- 250 Rowi live only at Okarito in the West Coast of the South Island. The Rowi are classified as "Nationally Critical."
- 300 Haast Tokoeka (also "Nationally critical") live at Haast and 25,000 Southern Tokoeka live in Fiordland and Stewart Island. The Haast Tokoeka and Southern Tokoeka are both varieties of the Tokoeka kiwi.
New populations of Kiwi have been introduced into predator free zones. This is one of the areas that the Mount Bruce Restoration Project excels. Eggs are artifically incubated and chicks are reared for release. Eggs are taken from the wild and hatched at the National Wildlife Centre. The Centre has a pen which is enclosed by a wall large enough to keep out any predators in the area. Once they are old enough to fend for themselves, they are released into the wild. Kiwi populations are being monitored by the DOC to find out how many there are, where they are and how far they range.
- cannot fly.
- burrows in the ground - the Mount Bruce restoration project has a "burrowcam."
- is largely nocturnal
- has one of the largest egg-to-body weight rations of any bird. A mature egg weishs 15 to 20% of the female's body weight
- egg takes upto 80 days to hatch
- female is bigger than the male.
- is the only known bird to have external nostrils at the end of it's bill.
- has a highly developed sense of smell.
- lives in pairs and mate for life
- has loose, hair-like feathers and whiskers
- eats mostly earthworms, spiders, forest invertebrates and fallen fruits.
- are extremely territorial and fight to protect their patch
The males of the Little Spotted Kiwi and the Brown Kiwi mostly incubate the egg.