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Northern Brown Kiwi

Apteryx mantelli

Kiwi Gallery

About the Northern Brown Kiwi

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Geographic Range:

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Class: Aves
Order: Struthioniformes
Family: Apterygidae
Genus: Apteryx
Species: mantelli

Kiwis are small, flightless and nearly wingless birds. They're the smallest of the ratites, a distinct group of large, flightless birds. Kiwis vocalize by hissing, growling and grunting. To find one another in the dark as well as to defend their territories, kiwis can shriek loudly. This cry sounds like “kee-wee, kee-wee,” earning the bird its name.

Northern Brown Kiwi Facts

Appearance:

Kiwis are small, flightless and nearly wingless birds. They’re most closely related to ostriches, emus, cassowaries and rheas. Kiwis are the smallest of the ratites, a distinct group of large, flightless birds. Most birds have a ridge on their sternum (a keel) where flight muscles attach, but ratites don't need keels because they don't fly. Kiwis have four toes, whereas other ratites have only two or three.

Kiwis’ shaggy brown feathers are long, loose and hair-like. They have a long, curved pale gray-brown bill with nostrils near the tip. The kiwi is the only bird in the world with nostrils at the tip of its bill. They have small eyes and unusually large ears.

Size:

  • Females are generally larger than males.
  • Weight: 6-8 pounds
  • Length: 17-21 inches long, 4-inch wingspan

Diet:

Primarily carnivorous, kiwis prey on invertebrates such as worms, insects and crustaceans. They’ll also eat amphibians and fish, like eels, and sometimes fruit.

Reproduction:

Kiwis typically pair for life, but a female may choose a new mate if a more desirable male catches her eye. Female kiwis reach sexual maturity at 3 to 5 years of age, and males at 18 months. While females can produce an egg every four to six weeks, eggs can take up to 15 percent of her body mass, the largest percentage of any bird. Therefore, a female can’t carry more than two eggs due to the stress on her body. Eggs are smooth and white, off-white, or pale green in color. After the female lays her egg in a burrow, males incubate them, maintaining the nest for approximately 75 to 90 days. Unlike most bird parents, kiwis don’t turn their eggs. The chicks fledge at six to 10 days.

Behavior:

Kiwis are primarily nocturnal. Instead of building nests, kiwis live in burrows which they dig themselves, often alongside a mate. At night they’re generally solitary, but can sometimes be seen in groups of up to a dozen. Young will leave their parents after four to six weeks. These birds are very protective of their own territory, patrolling their area every night, boundary marking to keep other kiwis away.

Kiwis vocalize by hissing, growling and grunting. To find one another in the dark as well as to defend their territories, kiwis can shriek loudly. This cry sounds like “kee-wee, kee-wee,” earning the bird its name.

Habitat/Range:

Found only on the North Island of New Zealand, this species of kiwi prefers subtropical and temperate forests, where they’re best camouflaged. They can also be found in scrubland, regenerating forests, and pastures.

Median Life Expectancy:

20 years in the wild

Threats in the wild:

The kiwi's main threat is from predation by animals introduced to New Zealand. They’re preyed upon by dogs, cats, pigs, stoats, possums and ferrets. In addition, their habitat is increasingly being reduced and fragmented.

Fun Facts:

  • Kiwis have many traits that are uncommon for a bird, but common for a mammal. These include whiskers, straight and fur-like feathers, nostrils on the end of its beak, and an acute sense of smell.
  • Despite its small size, a kiwi can outrun a human.

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