How to Indentify a New Zealand Kiwi Bird
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How to Indentify a New Zealand Kiwi Bird

What are the ways to identify a Kiwi bird. Information about the New Zealand kiwi bird and it's characteristics

Kiwi - the furit

Contrary to popular belief in the Unites States, the kiwi is a bird and not a fruit. The fuzzy, brown fruit that is usually called kiwi is actually the kiwifruit, a fruit that originated in China, was transported to New Zealand and, in the 1960s, arrived in the U.S. where it was renamed kiwifruit after New Zealand’s national bird. The kiwi, which is one of New Zealand’s endangered and protected species is a flightless bird from the same family as the ostrich and emu. While New Zealanders probably have no trouble recognizing the kiwi, tourists might need a little help to identify the elusive little bird. Of the five kiwi species, the brown kiwi, which numbers 25,000, is the largest.

  Begin a search for the brown kiwi in the northern and central areas of New Zealand’s North Island. Look for the kiwi at night since it is mostly nocturnal and keep your eyes to the ground since the kiwi cannot fly and burrows in the ground where it sniffs around for fruit and soil invertebrates to eat.

Identify the kiwi’s nest or burrow, which is usually located in a slope or bank. The kiwi uses its legs to dig one-entrance burrows. The kiwi also constructs day shelters in various locations, such as tree hollows, clumps of vegetation or under logs.

Check to see if the bird has long whiskers and feathers that resemble hair. The color of the feathers may be grey-brown, reddish-brown or nearly black-brown. Kiwis often put on a display of white feathers. Confirm that the bird has a very long bill and nostrils at the end of the bill. The kiwi is the only bird to have nostrils in this location. Compare the kiwi to a nearby object to gage its height. Kiwis average about 19 to 20 inches in height. Kiwi weight ranges between 3 1/2 and 6 1/2 lbs.

Look for very large kiwi eggs if you are able to locate a nest. The kiwi lays very large eggs in comparison to its body weight. The eggs are about 15 percent of the female Kiwi’s bodyweight. This ratio of egg-to-body weight is one of the largest among birds.

Confirm that the female kiwi is larger than the male and watch for the brown male kiwi to perform most of the egg incubating duties. If you happen to see kiwi chicks, they are born fully feathered.


Rare offspring of the Brown Kiwi

New Zealanders are also called kiwis. Most kiwi birds mate for life and live as long as 50 years. The remaining kiwi species are the rowi, tokoeka, great spotted kiwi and little spotted kiwi. Some brown kiwis are called Northland brown kiwi. About 90 percent of kiwis born in the wild die within six months, according to the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation.


Merced County Office of Education: Harvest of the Month – Kiwifruit; December 2005

New Zealand Department of Conservation: Kiwi

New Zealand Department of Conservation: Facts About Kiwi

Kiwi Foundation: Northland Kiwi

Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird House: New Zealand Birds

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