Kiwi Bird
New Zealand's National Bird

The kiwi bird is national bird and pride of New Zealand. Kiwis are only found here in this country, which makes them very rare creatures.

These flightless birds of the wild have little two inch wings that cannot lift them, with rough hair-like feathers. Just hatched they are very small creatures, and mature to almost the size of a chicken. Females have a slightly larger body than males. Although their usual home is in the native bush, kiwis have also made their home in native grasslands and scrub. Since these birds are semi-nocturnal and very secretive, very few New Zealanders have ever seen them in the wild.

Kiwis also come from the long extinct moa family, a flightless a very large animal, now only found in museums. Regardless of its gawky appearance kiwis can in reality out run humans. Their slyness and sharp three toed feet have kept them from extinction for a long time. Using its outstanding sense of smell, this bird finds worms, insects and grubs for its dinner, supplemented by berries and seeds.

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Five types of kiwis are known, South Island brown, North Island brown, Karito brown, great spotted and little spotted. Their breeding time is from the ending of winter to the start of summer. Usually they nest in hollow logs or in natural holes. One or two eggs, which are ivory or greenish-white, form usually one nest. The kiwi has been recognized to be able to live up to twenty years.

Before the arrival of Maori people, the kiwi didn’t have any predators. Even though the Maori treasured the feathers of the kiwi bird for their cloaks, the impact this made to the kiwi population was very insignificant.

More significant for the duration of the last century, was the impact of the Europeans, possums, and motor vehicles. Europeans captured thousands for display in museums, zoos, and private collections. As well as the clearing of forest in many areas and the introduction of brush tailed possums.

The ladder ones spread heavily with no predators and a menu that includes eggs and chicks. No wonder that the once safe national bird needs today protection. Otherwise this flightless bird remains creative source for wall decorations like a kiwi bird painted by Robyn Forbes and other popular travel gifts like printed T-shirts  or jewellery. Two great places to find examples online are Products from NZ and Shop NZ.

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Motuora Recreation Reserve, an island in the Hauraki Gulf situated just before Auckland City, is a designated predator free sanctuary for the kiwi. In Northland captured kiwis are released to breed on this 80-hectar large island. When they are mature enough, to survive in the wild, they are returned to where they came from. About sixty kiwis populate the island. Apart of these night birds walking tracks, camp sites, batches, and beaches are destination for nature lovers. 

As long as there is still habitat for the remaining kiwis where they stay undisturbed, the population of the kiwi birds is assured.


Guest Author: Mariam Cisse webmaster of Easy Healthy Recipes for Kids.com

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