Kiwi Facts: Native Land Birds in New Zealand

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The national symbol of the New Zeeland is none other than the Kiwi. This cute little animal is a nocturnal, flightless bird. Unfortunately, the five species of Kiwi that exist on this Planet are all endangered due to the massive destruction of their habitat and a high degree of invasive mammalian predators.

Photo by: Chris McLennan Photography Ltd

The Kiwi bird is a truly unique creature and has several interesting features about it. At a glance, the kiwis are unique in that they have no tail, they are stubby, and have little wings that are usually covered by their coarse, bristly, hair-like feathers.

Physical Description

The kiwi bird has a stubby body, a long beak that is one third of its body. The beak has actually got nostrils at the end. The kiwi is the only bird with this feature. Another quirky, yet interesting feature of the Kiwi is that it has no tail. It can be said that it is one of the most interesting bird species in the world. Like most other ratites, they have no preen gland. Their bill is long, pliable and sensitive to the touch. Their eyes have a reduced pecten. They have 13 flight feathers, no tail, just a small parson’s nose.


The Kiwi is usually very shy and hunts during the night. The climate they best thrive in is the subtropical and temperate podocarp, as well as beech forests. The kiwi, unlike other types of birds, has a highly developed sense of smell, due to its nostrils located at the end of their long beaks. Their elongated beaks also help them find insects and worms underground, using their sense of smell, without actually seeing or feeling them. Kiwis are monogamous birds. Once bonded, a male and a female will live their entire lives together as a couple. You may not know this, but their relationships can last up to twenty years. The female kiwi lays the egg and the male incubates it.


Due to the high rise of dangerous threats towards the kiwis, they have been put on the list of endangered species. People and environmentalists are now struggling to keep the number of kiwis from decreasing, by integrating the little birds into breeding programs at the New Zeeland Zoos. In 2000, the Department of Conservation set up five kiwi sanctuaries. These research and development centres are focused on coming up with methods to protect Kiwi and to increase their number.


Aside from protecting and keeping the kiwis in a safe environment, Zoos and Wildlife Parks have also got the role of rehabilitating orphaned, sick or injured native wildlife such as the Kiwi bird. Orphaned kiwis are reared, sick ones are cared for and the injured receive assistance prior to their release into the wild.

Kiwi Birds existed for millions of years without any threat until the settlers moved into the island, thus resulting in a habitat loss. Another reason for their declining population is the existence of predators such as dogs and ferrets. There are many programs to protect these endangered species of birds, which are on the verge of extinction. Kiwis are some of the cutest birds, as shown in the video below.

Kiwi! -- Funny bloopers R us