A Kiwi on the forest floor

The Kiwi

By nzmacminer | Wildlife SOS | 26 Jun 2022

Wildlife SOS


The Kiwi is New Zealand's national bird. There are 5 different subspecies; Rowi, Little Spotted, Great Spotted, Brown and Tokoeka. Picture  


Kiwi are usually found in New Zealand native bush but can live in ​scrub, rough farmland, exotic plantation forests, sand dunes, snowy tussocks and occasionally mangroves and wetland vegetation.
As you can see on the map, the different subspecies live in different places around New Zealand.
Because Kiwi are flightless they nest in burrows on the ground. Depending on the type of Kiwi, the burrows can either have a tunnel and a single chamber or be a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers.
Kiwi territories can range from 2 to 100 hectares depending on the type of Kiwi and can have up to 50 individual burrows. Picture  

A Kiwi is unlike most birds because in New Zealand wildlife it acts the part of a mammal. A Kiwis feathers are more hairlike than other birds and instead of having hollow bones there bones are filled with marrow. Its temperature is also 2˚ C lower than most birds making their body temperature closer to a mammals. 
A Kiwi's egg is just smaller than an ostrich egg and is the biggest egg comparative to its size.     rowi_orig.jpg Rowi Kiwi, A. rowi, Threatened-Nationally Vunerable            

Most birds have a bone called the keel which the flight muscles attach too. However the Kiwi does not have a keel as it does not fly but the lack of this bone makes the Kiwi very fragile in an attack.
An average Kiwi weighs between 1.3 and 3.3kg and can stand between 25 and 45cm tall. Despite their small size, a Kiwi can run as fast as a human at up to 19km per hour. Their lifespan is between 25 and 50 years.


Kiwi are nocturnal so they hunt for food under the light of the moon. They are omnivores and eat a variety of food from woodlice to berries and plant material to freshwater crayfish, in captivity they have been known to eat eels. The Kiwi's favourite food is a native worm that can grow to over half a metre long.


There are only 68,000 Kiwi left and we are losing 2% of out unmanaged Kiwi a year - that's 20 Kiwi a week!!​​
From the eggs that are laid only 50% hatch, and 90% of these are dead within 6 months - 70% by stoats or cats, and 20% by natural causes or other predators. Only 10% of the Kiwi chicken make it to 6 months of age and 5% or less make it to adulthood.
The Kiwi's main reason for declining is because of predators like stoats, dogs, cats and ferrets. Another reason is because of pests like hedgehogs which compete with them for food.
Another main reason that Kiwi's numbers are declining is because of habitat loss. They also can get hit by cars and other motor vehicles.
Something that could threaten Kiwi in the future is new avian diseases and parasites.

How can we help?

  • If you find a sick or injured Kiwi then take it to the nearest vet and/or contact DOC. If you take it to the vet then transport in a dark, well ventilated box. If you find a dead Kiwi then take a photo of it where you found it, put it in a bag and then in the fridge and then tell DOC.
  • Keep your cat inside for as much time as possible.
  • Take your dog to Kiwi aversion training and keep on the leash whenever you go somewhere.
  • ​Drive carefully where Kiwi are around - look out for the yellow Kiwi signs on the side of the road.





This information is taken from my daughters website with her permission. I am helping her spread the word about our planets endangered animals. Happy reading.

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Wildlife SOS
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A look at many endangered animals of the world, and how we can start to help them. This is taken from a website created by my daughter.

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