Species: North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: The North Island brown kiwi is more like a mammal than a bird, with fur-like feathers, muscular legs and even cat-like whiskers on its face.
Kiwis are the national bird of New Zealand, and are some of the most unusual of all birds. One of five kiwi species, the North Island brown kiwi is flightless and lives on the ground, where it shelters in a burrow during the day. Its long, thin bill has sensory pits at the end which can detect prey moving underground, while, uniquely among birds, the nostrils are located at the end of the bill, helping the kiwi to locate prey by smell. North Island brown kiwis typically mate for life, and the female produces one of the largest eggs of any bird relative to her own size. The male incubates the eggs, and the chicks hatch fully feathered and are soon able to fend for themselves.
The North Island brown kiwi has undergone a dramatic decline over the last century, largely due to predation by introduced mammals such as dogs, cats and stoats. Fortunately, this intriguing bird has been the subject of concerted conservation efforts, including predator control and the incubation of eggs and rearing of chicks in captivity. Kiwi sanctuaries have also been established to help protect it. Where active conservation has taken place, kiwi numbers have rebounded, giving hope that this national icon can survive into the future.
Find out more about kiwi conservation at Kiwis for Kiwi.
Read about other nocturnal species and about WWF’s Earth Hour on the ARKive blog.
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Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author