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     The Kiwi

There are three species of kiwi, the brown, little spotted and great spotted. The kiwi became a protected species in 1896.
great spotted kiwi
This photo of a great spotted kiwi
is used with the permission

of Don Hadden.

The Brown Kiwi can be either North, South or Stewart Island brown kiwi. These outnumber the other species and are the best known.

Kiwi are about the size of a large chicken, although size can range from a bantam to the biggest hen. The kiwi, looking from the outside, lacks wings and a tail. It has long whiskers and uses them like radar as it does not have good sight, although it's hearing is. This bird has nostrils at the end of its bill which it uses to sniff out food in the earth and leaf litter in the forests of New Zealand.
Kiwi live in a bush  habitat, coming out at night to forage for worms and  grubs. They also eat berries.



Kiwi dig burrows for shelter and for nesting. The female lays an egg which the male then incubates for between 75-85 days.  The egg weighs about 420g, almost the same as six hens eggs, and is smooth and white often with a green tinge.  Brown kiwi will lay a second egg   3-4 weeks after the first one has been laid.

brown kiwi chickThe chicks emerge fully feathered, open-eyed and with their stomachs filled with yolk. By the end of it's first week of existence the chick will venture out of the nest with the male.   Chicks quickly learn to forage for themselves. After about three weeks it leaves the nest.


The average lifespan of a kiwi has not been established yet but kiwi probably live 20 to 30 years when in the wild, that is, if they escape being killed by ferrets, stoats, weasels, cats, dogs, or people.  Man sometimes inadvertantly harms these birds through the use of gin traps being set for possums or when bush or scrub is burnt off.

The Emblem

The kiwi's icon status is demonstated by its use to describe the people of New Zealand. New Zealanders worldwide are known as kiwis, a title we bear proudly. As we are a sporting nation the call of kiwi can be heard from the rugby fields of South Africa to the cycle tracks of the Olympics; from the Netball courts of the United Kingdom to Auckland and the America's Cup ( WE HAVE IT!)
Kiwi and New Zealanders are inseparable. Businesses trade under the name of KIWI or use emblems of them, as do our airforce.  The kiwi has even made it onto postage stamps and coins.  MacDonald's have a kiwiburger. New Zealand's first America's Cup yatching challenge in 1987 sailed under the name Kiwi Magic.

 The Fruit

the kiwifriut or sometimes known as the kiwi is an oval brown furry fruit with green flesh and black seeds. Originally this came from China but was very tiny and used in an ornamental capacity. This fruit was further developed in New Zealand and is exported to USA, Europe and Asia. It is hard when upripe and best eaten when it has softened. An bag of kiwifruit can be ripened by putting an apple in the bag.
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