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The Wonderful Kiwi

 There are five different species of kiwi. Even though there are two kinds of kiwi, one of which is fruit,

this paper is going to be about the flightless bird that lives in the jungles of New Zealand. The kiwi bird!

Kiwis got their name from the sound the male makes when mating. He sounds like he is saying, “kiiwii”! “Kiwi” is a Maori word, which is the native language of New Zealand.

The kiwi is also the national bird of New Zealand. It can be found on many flags and stamps around the islands. New Zealanders are also called “kiwis” because of these little birds.

These little brown fluffy birds are about the size of a chicken, weighing about 2 to 7 pounds. Although they are so small, they actually lay the largest eggs in the world according to their body size. Their eggs are almost the size of an ostrich egg! The average kiwi egg weighs about 1 pound or so.

The male kiwi is the one that stays with the eggs until they hatch, almost 3 months (80 days) after the female lays them. Some females help with the nest every now and then depending on the species. But most let the males take care of this.

The kiwi’s most striking feature is its very long beak. The surprising thing about this long beak is that it has nostrils on the end of it! This makes it really easy to find its favorite food, worms. The kiwi can stick his beak down a hole and smell for worms and other insects.

Kiwis are mainly nocturnal omnivores. Meaning, they are mostly up at night eating both plants and insects. They have also been found eating frogs and even eels! Their diet involves invertebrates (animals with no backbone) and berries.

Kiwis did not have any predators before humans came to New Zealand, because there are almost no mammals on the islands! But, when humans came to New Zealand, they brought all their pets like cats, dogs, weasels, and other little animals, which started hunting the kiwis. Because of this, 1 species of kiwi is now endangered (the Okarito Brown kiwi) and 1 is critically endangered (the Little Spotted kiwi).

If the kiwi is not killed first, it can live up to about 30 years of age! Although the average age for a kiwi is 12 years.

Kiwis are very active birds. They are constantly moving into a new home. A kiwi will spend the night digging the burrow that it will sleep in during the day. Then when day comes, it will take a little nap, then go hunting, and then go back and sleep more. The next day is more of the same, digging a new burrow in a new place, eating, and sleeping, every day! The only time a kiwi keeps the same burrow is when the female lays her eggs.

Female kiwis are larger than the males. This means that they are more dominant in their relationships and more territorial.

The Emu of Australia is the closest relative to the kiwi. Which gives the kiwi the title of the, “Smallest Living Ratite”! Kiwis are also close to the Ostrich of Africa.

Emu
ostrich

The largest species of kiwi is the Great Spotted kiwi. Their Latin name is Apteryx haastii. Great spotted kiwis are not endangered and there are about 20,000 left in the wilds of New Zealand. These kiwis actually make dens for themselves instead of just a little burrow. Their dens even have multiple entrances and exits!

The Little Spotted kiwi is critically endangered do to the fact that it cannot protect itself against predators. This kiwi has become extinct to the main lands of New Zealand and had to be moved to islands that did not inhabit any predators to keep it alive. There are now only 1350 Little Spotted kiwis left on these islands. The Latin name for the Little Spotted kiwi is Apteryx owenii.

Apteryx rowi is Latin for the Okarito Brown kiwi. The interesting thing about this kiwi is that the female lays 3 eggs each in a different nest. This kiwi is also one of the endangered, but, it is not critical.

The Southern Brown kiwi is the second most common kiwi in New Zealand. They look very similar to the Great Spotted kiwi, but live in different areas. Their Latin name is Apteryx australis.

The North Island Brown kiwi is the most common kiwi in New Zealand. There is a good 35,000 kiwis left in the wild. In Latin they are called Apteryx mantelli.

Another really cool fact about all these birds is that they stay with their mates for life. They are very devoted to their mate and every 2 nights or so they will stay in the same burrow together! They even have singing duets while they are hunting!

Overall, kiwis are shy creatures. This might bo one of the reasons they are so close to becoming extinct. Because they are shy, they do not normally fight over anything. But, if a fight is needed they will fight, but not to the death.

Kiwis are also solitary animals, with the exception of their mate. The females claim their own territory and every other kiwi knows to stay off of it. If, for some reasons, a stranger kiwi wonders onto its neighbours land, the owner will run him or her off as fast as he can!

Kiwis normally know which kiwis are their neighbors. Because of this, there are many singing duets between all of the neighbors so that they know where each other are in case of danger.

A kiwis territory is marked with all of the burrows, nests, and calls that a kiwi makes. Probably the best way to recognize a kiwis territory is by all of the burrows. Their burrows are normally a couple of meters deep and a couple of meters long.

Kiwis are very fascinating creatures. With their long beaks, short wings, beautiful feathers, and gentle personality they are liked by all who come in contact with them. How can you not give all the credit to God who made these little animals? Random chance could not have created a bird like this!

Rayleigh Ann Gray

References:

All of the above information was found on the internet. Wikipedia was the most helpful tool for this paper.

Again, this paper was assigned by my sister Makenzie a couple of weeks ago. I have really enjoyed researching about the kiwi!

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3 thoughts on “The Wonderful Kiwi”

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