• Kiwis are flightless birds endemic to New Zealand of the genus Apteryx and family Apterygidae Approximately the size of a domestic chicken, kiwi are by far the smallest living ratites (which also include ostriches, emus, rheas and cassowaries).
  • DNA sequence comparisons have yielded the surprising conclusion that kiwi are much more closely related to the extinct Malagasy elephant birds than to the moa with which they shared New Zealand.
  • There are five recognised species, four of which are currently listed as vulnerable, and one of which is near-threatened. All species have been negatively affected by historic deforestation, but their remaining habitat is well-protected in large forest reserves and national parks. At present, the greatest threat to their survival is predation by invasive mammalian predators.

Specificatoin of


  • The kiwi’s egg is one of the largest in proportion to body size (up to 20% of the female’s weight) of any species of bird in the world.
  • Other unique adaptations of kiwi, such as their hairlike feathers, short and stout legs, and using their nostrils at the end of their long beak to detect prey before they ever see it, have helped the bird to become internationally well-known.
  • The kiwi is recognised as an icon of New Zealand, and the association is so strong that the term Kiwi is used internationally as the colloquial demonym for New Zealanders.


  • The Māori language word kiwi is generally accepted to be “of imitative origin” from the call. However, some linguists derive the word from Proto-Nuclear Polynesian kiwi, which refers to Numenius tahitiensis, the bristle-thighed curlew, a migratory bird that winters in the tropical Pacific islands. With its long decurved bill and brown body, the curlew resembles the kiwi. So when the first Polynesian settlers arrived, they may have applied the word kiwi to the new-found bird. The word is usually uncapitalised when used for the birds. The plural is either the anglicised kiwis or, consistent with the Māori language, appearing as kiwi without an ‑s.
  • The genus name Apteryx is derived from Ancient Greek ‘without wing’.

Style and habitat

  • The kiwi’s mostly nocturnal habits may be a result of habitat intrusion by predators, including humans. In areas of New Zealand where introduced predators have been removed, such as sanctuaries, kiwi are often seen in daylight.
  • They prefer subtropical and temperate podocarp and beech forests, but they are being forced to adapt to different habitat, such as sub-alpine scrub, tussock grassland, and the mountains. Kiwi have a highly developed sense of smell, unusual in a bird, and are the only birds with nostrils at the end of their long beaks.
  • Kiwi eat small invertebrates, seeds, grubs, and many varieties of worms. They also may eat fruit, small crayfish, eels and amphibians. Because their nostrils are located at the end of their long beaks, kiwi can locate insects and worms underground using their keen sense of smell, without actually seeing or feeling them. This sense of smell is due to a highly developed olfactory chamber and surrounding regions.
  • It is a common belief that the kiwi relies solely on its sense of smell to catch prey but this has not been scientifically observed. Lab experiments have suggested that A. australis can rely on olfaction alone but is not consistent under natural conditions. Instead, the kiwi may rely on auditory and/or vibrotactile cues.

Reasons For Endangerment 

  • Habitat loss has always been seen as a critical factor in the reduction in the population of kiwis.
  • They prefer subtropical and temperate forests, bushes, and farmlands. These are places that help them conceal themselves. 
  • Similarly, they prefer places like wetKiwis are flightless nocturnal birds native to New Zealand.
  • They have only five but are very recognized species.
  • Kiwis, meanwhile, are the only bird species in the world, whose eggs are the largest in proportion to their body size – larger than any species of bird in the world.


A north island brown kiwis 

  • The appearance characteristics of kiwis are mostly all of the ones that have more to do with equipping them to adapt.

Appearance Analysis

big kiwi

                                                                                                      a big kiwi on the edge of rever

  • Kiwis have hairlike feathers.
  • Their legs are short and stout.
  • They have long beaks with nostrils at the end.
  • The nostrils help them detect their prey before they ever see it.
  • Out of all the features that could have made them internationally known, it was their long beaks that set them apart from the rest of the bird species.
  • Their uniqueness also led them to be recognized as an icon of New Zealand.

connection with person

kiwi painting

                                                                                                                           kiwi in cold

  • The Maori traditionally believed that kiwi were under the protection of Tane Mahuta, god of the forest. They were used as food and their feathers were used for kahu kiwi-ceremonial cloaks.
  • Today, while kiwi feathers are still used, they are gathered from birds that die naturally, through road accidents, or predation, and from captive birds. Kiwi are no longer hunted and some Māori consider themselves the birds’ guardians.

Endangered Species

  • Out of already just 400 individual kiwis of them existing among the five kiwis species, one very common kiwi species and another the rarest kiwi species have been declared endangered – the north island brown kiwis and the row kiwis- by the IUCN.
  • Rowi kiwis are the rarest type of kiwis. In 1995, there were only 160 individual rows of kiwis, but at least nearly 160 across all age groups. But now, there are only 400 rows of kiwis left, and that too is only from the adult age groups. 
  • As per alerts from IUCN, the brown kiwis are on the verge of being declared endangered too. However, the New Zealand wildlife authorities have worked efficiently and are expecting positive news on that front.
  • lands, rough farmlands, tussock grasslands, plantations, mountains, and dunes. 
  • But with increasing deforestation and global warming, these unmaintainable spaces have reduced alarmingly. These have also impacted their feeding habits.

Internal links:

Giant Bird, Peacock – Erakina

The Unique traits of the cleverest bird : Parrot – Erakina

A attractive Nelapattu bird sanctuary you should visit it -Erakina

External links:

Read more about kiwis bird


By Daya Atreya

Date: 29/12/21

Tags: birds


  1. Tanya Verma

    Useful details

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