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Kiwis Are New Zealand's Fuzzy Flightless Bird Species

A brown, fuzzy… bird! Kiwi birds are almost the size of a chicken and live in burrows. They are very mysterious; only three species have been discovered.

The kiwi is a relatively small, flightless, and defenseless bird that is native to New Zealand. Kiwis are ratites, which include large, flightless birds like ostriches and emus. Although kiwis have wings, those wings have no purpose and are covered by long, loose, brown, and hair-like feathers. Their sizes depend on the species, yet they are typically about two feet tall. They can run up to 20 miles per hour, faster than an average human.

Kiwis are the only birds that have nostrils at the tip of their beaks. They have a strong sense of smell and use sensory pads (also at the tip of the beak) to hunt grubs, worms, bugs, and more. Kiwis are protective of their territory and don’t want any other kiwis to ruin their burrow.

Kiwis mate for life, but the female can “cheat” on the male and “divorce” him if she wants a new, more desirable mate. They mate from late winter to early summer. Female kiwis lay a single egg that is about 20 percent of their weight!

Males take care of the egg and will do most of the parenting without taking any turns with the mother. When a chick is born, it is a miniature version of its parents. In their lifespan of about 50 years, female kiwis can lay up to six eggs per year.

Although female kiwis lay quite a few eggs, chicks’ mortality rates are very high. The reason behind it is surprisingly simple: non-native predators like dogs and cats eat kiwi chicks and eggs. In the late 1800s, kiwis were poached for their fur to make trout flies.

Kiwis are popular enough to be recognizable, but they are still peculiar and obscure. To ensure their survival, it’s important to learn more about this unique and quirky species..

[Source: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance]

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