Kiwis are small, flightless birds that are native to New Zealand, and are their national animal. They’re an iconic representation of New Zealand, and so New Zealanders are also colloquially called Kiwis. They thrive in the Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, as it’s unfortunately now extinct in the mainland, and there are approximately 1200 Little Spotted Kiwi (LSK) in the reserve.

These birds are unique to other ones, and their features make them easily recognizable to people. They have loose feathers, which are much furrier than feathers, that molt throughout the year. Upon observation, one might notice they have no wings. However, they do have a pair of wings, but those are so small that they are practically invisible and redundant. Another trait that is unique to Kiwis is that they have the second largest olfactory bulb among all birds that are relative to the size of their forebrain, allowing them to have an excellent and well-developed sense of smell that allows them to detect their prey or food under soil or in leaf litter. In contrast to their above-average smell, the eyes of the Kiwi are one of the smallest of all the avian species. This results in them having a very underdeveloped sense of sight. It’s been proven that Kiwis do not rely on their sight as much by observing blind specimens in the wild, and instead depend upon their other senses (i.e. olfactory sense).  Kiwi also lay the largest eggs in proportion to the size of any bird in the world, despite being around the size of an ordinary chicken. It is believed that the large eggs were a trait of their ancestral cousins, and as they evolved and grew smaller, their eggs retained their large size.

Unfortunately, life for Kiwis is not as simple as it would seem. Only about 5-10% of kiwi chicks survive adulthood without any management. Furthermore, only 70% of Kiwis are actually managed. Kiwis have many natural predators, like cats, dogs, ferrets, and stoats. Fortunately, there have been several programs launched with the aim of Kiwi conservation, and it’s resulted in great success. In total, there are 68,000 Kiwis left, and as of 2017, their status has been lifted from “endangered” to “vulnerable”.

Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus (0 )