What Is a Kiwi Bird?
The kiwi is the best-known bird in New Zealand. Kiwi is related to a group of birds called ratites. The closest relatives to kiwi today are emus and cassowaries in Australia, but also the now-extinct moa of New Zealand. There are five species of kiwi. All are endangered.
This flightless bird wears a shaggy coat of hair like feathers. Its wings are use-less stubs, and it has no tail. The kiwi has a long bill with nostrils at the tip, and “whiskers” like a cat. The whisker like bristles on the kiwi’s face act as feelers. These help the poor-sighted kiwi find its way around the forest, as it searches for grubs and earthworms, poking its long beak here and there.
Kiwis are mostly nocturnal. They are most commonly forest dwellers, making daytime dens and nests in burrows, hollow logs or under dense vegetation. They also have one of the largest egg-to-body weight ratios of any bird. The egg averages 15% of the female’s body weight (compared to 2% for the ostrich).
Females are larger than males (up to 3.3 kg and 45 cm). Kiwi is long-lived, and depending on the species lives for between 25 and 50 years. Kiwi is a significant national icon, equally cherished by all cultures in New Zealand. Pictures of this shy, waddling bird can be seen on New Zealand coins and stamps, as well as on cans of shoe polish.