Bird Families

How and where does the Kiwi bird live?


Class: Birds (Aves)

Detachment: Kiwiformes (Apterygiformes species

Brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

Rovi(A. rowi)

Tokoyka(A. australis)

Large speckled kiwi(A. haastii)

As the name suggests, it is the largest kiwi in New Zealand.

Small speckled kiwi A. owenii)

Small speckled kiwi is the smallest species of kiwi, about the size of a bantam (small breed of chickens).

Kiwis are extremely territorial birds, especially males, and fiercely defend their grounds. Their battles for territory are not for the cowardly - sharp claws can mortally wound an opponent. During the battle, the birds jump high, hit their paws and injure the enemy.

The sizes of the territories are from 2 to 100 hectares, depending on the location and type of bird. Rovi and Yuzhnaya Tokoeka have the largest territory - up to 100 hectares per pair.

yle = ”font-style: normal,” mce_style = ”font-style: normal,”> It should be noted that South Tokoyka is a very unusual species of kiwi, as they live in small groups, or family groups of different ages.

After the birds arrange the territory and pair up, they begin to prepare for breeding.

Kiwis are diggers, they can dig up to 50 moves in their territory. When the kiwi sleeps, like other birds, it often turns its head back and hides it under its wing. However, unlike other birds that have large wings and small beaks, this pose makes the kiwi a little ridiculous - its 20-centimeter beak does not fit under the tiny remnant of a wing.

There are many different types of dwellings, depending on the location and type of kiwi.

Two hundred years ago, millions of kiwis lived in New Zealand. The night forests screamed with their voices - creeeeeee, creeeeeee, creeeeeee.

Today, New Zealand's national symbol is under threat. By 1998, the kiwi population had dropped dramatically to 78,000. By 2004, there were about 70,000 of them left.

On the two main islands, the number of kiwis is rapidly declining. Without the reserves and the Bank of New Zeland Kiwi Recovery, the future of the kiwi would be hopeless.

Kiwi is threatened by three threats - predators, humans and habitat destruction.

Half of the birds do not hatch from eggs, because adult birds are destroyed by predators, or the embryos are killed by bacteria. Of those chicks that hatched, about 70%, before reaching 6 months, die from ermines and cats. 20% are destroyed by other predators or die from natural causes. Only 10% of chicks live up to 6 months, and only 5% reach adulthood.

Stoat is the main enemy of kiwi chicks. He is very dexterous and cunning, so it is difficult to lure him into a trap. But when the kiwi reaches six months of age, it can already drive away the ermine itself.

Adult kiwi are in another danger - dogs and ferrets.

Another enemy of the kiwi is wild pigs. They are omnivores, they eat plants, insects and other animals. Although pigs are not the main enemy of kiwis, they can easily destroy their home.

About 1000 years ago, the Maori appeared in New Zealand. It was they who named the bird “kiwi” - perhaps because this word is very similar to the sounds made by kiwi (creeee, creeee), possibly from the word “kivi”, which called curlews, large brown wading birds that look like kiwi ...

“Tokoeka” (one of the types of kiwi) is also the name of the Maori, it means “ueka with a cane” (ueka (weka) - a New Zealand shepherd ueka - a flightless bird, lives on the islands of New Zealand, has strong legs and a powerful beak, eats worms, insects, berries, lizards, eggs, chicks and fish in streams). The Great Spotted Kiwi was called by the Maori “roa” or “roroa”.

The Maori were the first settlers to hunt kiwis for their meat, fluff and feathers with the help of Polynesian dogs (kuri) and traps.

The hunt was accompanied by a great ceremony. “Te manu huna a Tane” (“invisible bird Tane”) - this was the name of the kiwi during the ceremony. Thane is the god of the forest.

The Maori used kiwi feathers to make cloaks for ceremonies. These cloaks were called “kahukiwi”. Only Maori chiefs could eat kiwi meat and wear kahukiwi cloaks. Before starting the hunt, the Maori sang special songs and performed rituals.

But as the Europeans approached, times were even worse for the kiwis.

Millions of kiwis reigned in New Zealand until a European stepped on it. By 1920, their population had dropped to 5 million. For 200 years, birds have been victims of uncontrolled hunting, vicious predation and habitat destruction.

For the first time, Europeans became interested in kiwi in 1811, when one of the hunters sold the fur of a bird to a sea captain in the port of Sydney. George Shaw, a zoologist at the British Museum, gave the kiwi the scientific name Apteryx australis (southern bird without wings). He also published a description with a picture of a bird. It was a thin, erect creature, not unlike a penguin.

The publication of 1813 was a sensation. Many considered this to be a myth, a deception. But over the next few years, new reports and bird skins confirmed the existence of the kiwi. In 1851, a live female kiwi was brought to the London Zoo, where she lived alone for 15 years.

In the meantime, new people arrived in New Zealand - adventurers, gold miners, hunters, etc. These people got food, hunted, although not all kiwis were to their taste.

Kiwi did not take its rightful place in the culture of Europeans, and kiwi hunting was very profitable. Overseas museums paid a lot of money for their skins, and in the 1870s German and London merchants craved the soft skins of harmless birds. Kiwis fell victim to fashion, destroyed by the thousands for muffs and hat trims.

Strangely, the Animal Protection Act of 1867 did not apply to New Zealand's native animals and birds.

However, by the end of the nineteenth century, people began to understand the unique meaning of wildlife. Reserves were established and finally, in 1896, a ban on kiwi hunting was introduced.

The following year, Kapiti Island was established as a Natural Protected Area, and in the early 1900s, many plants and birds, including the Lesser Speckled Kiwi, were transferred to a nature reserve.

Meanwhile, kiwis were attacked by cats, ermines, ferrets, dogs, and weasels. The areas of forests were reduced, areas overgrown with bushes were cleared for pastures.

Kiwis are omnivorous, they eat both meat and plant foods, but still they like meat more. Kiwi has an amazing nose and nostrils, thanks to which they are able to get food at night.

One of the favorite kiwi dishes are worms. Since kiwis live in a wide variety of areas, from mountains to exotic forests, it is very difficult to identify their typical food, even for a single species.

Most of the kiwi's diet is made up of invertebrates - insects. New Zealand is home to 178 species of worms and 14 exotic species, so there are plenty of kiwis to choose from.

In addition to worms, kiwis love to feast on the larvae of beetles and cicadas, crickets, spiders, caterpillars, slugs, wood lice, snails and other insects.

Kiwis also eat berries, grains and leaves of some plants: brown pine (Podocarpus totara), redwood (Podocarpus ferrugineus), etc.

In some parts of the country, wingless birds feed on more unusual foods. In the state forest of Waitangi, brown kiwis sometimes eat frogs. They also eat black cockroaches. Another unusual food is freshwater crayfish, which are washed ashore during floods.

The size

  • The largest is the northern brown kiwi. It grows up to 50-65 centimeters and weighs from 1.4 to 5 kilograms.
  • The smallest is kiwi spotted. It grows from 35 to 45 cm and weighs from 0.8 to 1.9 kg.

This bird has very muscular legs, their weight is about a third of the body weight, they can easily overtake a person.

The wings are about 3 cm in size, they are completely hidden under the feathers and are useless for flying. There is a small claw at the end of the wings, the purpose of which is still unknown.

The paws have four fingers, and a thick foot (her closest relatives have only two or three), they allow her to wander silently through the forest and search for food.

Bird features

These birds, in their structure and lifestyle, are more like mammals:

  • They have thick skin and heavy bones filled with bone tissue, common birds usually have thin skin and hollow bones.
  • At the tip of the wings there is a small claw that looks like a cat, such a wing structure in bats,
  • They don't build nests, but they dig holes,
  • Feathers are long, loose and more like hair,
  • They have a relatively low body temperature, averaging 38 degrees Celsius, which is more common in mammals than birds.
  • It is the only bird in the world with its nostrils at the tip of its beak. They have a highly developed sense of smell. They can find food by smell,
  • They have big ears and very good hearing. They have been observed to tilt their head towards the source of the sound.

Where it lives, lifestyle and what it eats

They live in the forested areas of New Zealand. Since they cannot fly up trees to nest, rest or hide from danger, kiwis build their home in burrows located in swampy forests or pastures. With the help of their claws, they dig several holes. For nesting and laying eggs, they use old burrows dug out at the beginning of the season, which have managed to be overgrown with grass and are well hidden from predators.

They actively defend their territory from other kiwis. They patrol their territory every night, leaving smelly droppings as markers to mark the boundaries of the territory. Only family members are allowed on their territory; they often get into fights with strangers, sometimes to death.

To communicate or scare off other birds in the dark, they may scream, whistle or snort loudly.

The cry resembles the sound "ki-vi, ki-vi", and from here the bird got its name.

For a long time it was believed that these birds are nocturnal, but as it turned out this is not entirely true, and they are often found during the day. Nevertheless, most birds usually hide in their burrow during the day, at dusk they pull their beak out of the burrow, sniff the environment, and if they do not feel danger, they go out and go in search of food.

You can watch these birds in New Zealand in the following places:

They eat worms, larvae, insects, berries and seeds and various invertebrates. They find food by smell, and with the help of sensory pads on the tip of their beak, they can catch flying food. They use their sturdy legs and claws to chop up decaying logs or dig up leaves and twigs to find beetles and their larvae.


Breeding season is late winter - early summer. Nests are built in hollow logs or burrows that the male digs.

There are no beautiful courtship in pairs, like other birds, usually it is gentle grunting and purring, and following the female. Couples can fight with a friend, if the female is the largest of the male, she can easily drive him out of her territory. If another male invades their territory, a fight may start. They fight to the death, so the alien can be killed.

Often, adult males and females converge for life, but the female can easily select a new male if one is more suitable for her. For a long time it was believed that one pair of kiwi mates all life, but after research it became clear that this depends more on the number of birds living in one area. If there are many of them, then they change partners every couple of years.

The female lays up to six eggs annually. Kiwi eggs are smooth and have a white, cream or pale green color. Compared to the size of a female, her eggs are enormous, with a single egg reaching 20 percent of her body weight.

Eggs contain nearly twice the yolk of most birds of the same size and have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. For this reason, they calmly ripen in the aggressive among humid underground burrows, which are saturated with bacteria and fungi.

The male takes care of the eggs, he incubates him from 75 to 80 days, sometimes the female can return to the nest and lay more eggs, then the male will have to sit much longer.

Chicks hatch fully matured and with plumage, and resemble a small copy of a bird. The first few days the chick stays in the nest and gains strength. Then he leaves the hole and, accompanied by his father, begins to study and search for food.

Chicks stay with the male for about 20 days, after which they can still be in the territory of their parents for several months or even years.

Status, predators and protection

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the southern brown and large spotted kiwi are listed as endangered species. The northern brown and brown kiwi Okarito are listed in the Red Book, although their numbers are stable today. Small spotted kiwis are endangered.

In total, there are about 68,000 birds in New Zealand today. For millions of years, only one predator has hunted them, this is an extinct laughing owl.
In 1300, the Maori tribe settled in New Zealand, who used their feathers to decorate the clothes of the leaders and as food.
In the late 1800s, settlers from Europe and other countries settled on their territory, bringing with them dogs, cats, ferrets, ermines and rats, which began to eat eggs and the birds themselves. Fishermen began to use their feathers to make trout flies. This all began to lead to a sharp decrease in their population.

As a result, a law was passed in New Zealand in 1908 prohibiting the hunting, trapping or killing of kiwis, but due to the low fine it did little to help and in 1921 they were declared a "perfectly protected bird".

After that, the popularity of the bird began to grow, it began to be depicted on coins, postage stamps, military stripes, and even on the national flag of New Zealand. This made it possible to preserve and save the population from extinction.

Today they are threatened by the destruction of their habitat, they become victims of dogs, weasels, cats, ferrets, pigs, often get run over by cars or drown in swimming pools.

On average, their population declines by 10 percent every two years.

Today in New Zealand there is a program to restore their numbers, the authorities are working very closely with the population and ensured that people in the habitats of these birds began to keep their dogs on a leash and slow down the movement of cars when they see a warning sign. They began to remove bird eggs from the wild and raise chicks in captivity until they become adults and can not defend themselves on their own.

Research into reproductive ecology has begun to ensure their survival and population prosperity.

Oleg Kozlovsky

Copywriter, illustrator and freelance photographer, I am engaged in tourism, fishing and hunting, traveling around the world and Russia, fishing and hunting.

Ⓘ Small gray kiwi

Small gray kiwi, or small spotted kiwi, or Owen's kiwi is one of the species of birds belonging to the only genus of lat. Apteryx and the Apterygidae family in the order Kiwiformes. The specific epithet is given in honor of the English zoologist Richard Owen.

1. General characteristics

The small gray kiwi is an endemic bird species found exclusively in New Zealand and is found only on the islet of Kapiti, although it previously lived in the forests of the South Island.

This is the smallest of the kiwi species - only 25 cm tall and 1.3 kilograms in weight.

2. Threats

As a result of the extermination of eggs by imported cats, the small gray kiwi became extinct in the main part of its range.

A population of 1,500 has survived on the island of Kapiti, from where the species is re-settled on other isolated islands.

Listed in the international Red Data Book with the status of vulnerable Vulnerable.