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Southern Brown Kiwi » Facts, Feeding and Reproduction

The Kiwi is a rare bird genus that has a pear-shaped body and is composed of five species differentiated by size and plumage.

Their scientific name is Apteryx Australis and they belong to the family Apterygidae which means “without wings”, that is why these birds do not have the ability to fly.

This peculiar bird, symbol of New Zealand, has become one of the rarest animals of all those that inhabit our planet.

Physical characteristics of the Kiwi Bird

The Kiwi Bird has very different characteristics from other birds, in fact it resembles mammals much more than birds.

This rare animal is very small, measuring between 25 and 45 cm and weighing approximately 1.3 to 3.3 kg, with males being lighter than females. Its plumage is very striking because instead of feathers it looks like hair. It is usually brown but its colour will depend on the species in question.

The Kiwi is characterized by strong and muscular legs, and each one has 4 padded toes that allow it to run very fast.

In addition to being fast, they are very agile and silent when moving, which obviously helps them to go unnoticed or run away from predators.

Although the name of the family to which it belongs suggests that it does not have wings, in reality it does have them but they are very small (approximately 3 cm) and are attached to its body. As you will understand, the characteristics of its tiny wings prevent it from flying.

Another detail that makes this bird even rarer is that it has whiskers similar to those of a cat. But this is not the only reason why they are confused with mammals, also because they have a body temperature that ranges from 37 to 38°C.

Unlike other birds, the Kiwi’s vision is very weak, so it makes special use of its super-developed sense of smell or hearing.

Its anatomy is also notable for its long beak at the end of which are the nostrils. This characteristic is unique to the Kiwi, no other bird has it.

Kiwi Bird Behavior

As for its behaviour and way of life, this rare bird is apparently very calm but in reality it is very territorial and if circumstances allow it it can become aggressive.

However, most of its time is spent sleeping and cuddling with its partner, and it separates only to look for food.

Their average life expectancy is between 10 and 11 years of age.

Where does the Kiwi Bird live?

The Kiwi usually lives in a variety of environments, including forests, snowy mountains, scrublands, pastures and grasslands in New Zealand, where it originated.

What does the Kiwi Bird eat?

The Kiwi does not need to consume much food because its small body is satisfied with little and survives on what it gets around

These rare animals are omnivorous. Their diet is mainly based on worms, larvae, worms, cicadas, snails, slugs, centipedes, fallen fruits, berries and seeds.

To get their food they rely especially on smell and hearing, plus the incredible strength of their legs with which they can dig into the ground or move so quietly that their prey cannot feel them.

How does it reproduce?

As with many other rare bird species, the Kiwi is monogamous, so they are usually kept in the same pair for life. However, sometimes the female decides to leave the nest and look for another partner, thus forcing the male to do the same.

The breeding season of the Kiwi is commonly from June to March, but the male cannot participate in it until he is 18 months old and the female three years old, because in that time when they reach sexual maturity.

Courtship in this species consists of a kind of chase that the male performs on the female and that lasts until the latter decides to accept it.

After this, the female lays a single egg that stands out for being very large, to the point of being 20% the size of the mother and weighing 450 grams.

The egg is incubated by the male for 10 weeks until it hatches. Another unique detail in this bird is that when the chick hatches, its parents will not provide it with food but it must feed itself.

Predators of this Strange Bird

The main predators of the Kiwi are mammals introduced in their natural habitat, for example, dogs, cats and ferrets. In addition to these, there are wild species such as hawks and eagles.

Two clear disadvantages for the survival of this bird is its small size which makes it vulnerable and its inability to fly, because although it runs very fast it can be reached by animals faster than it.