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Welcome to the Kiwi Bird Page!

The "kiwi" (shown above) is a flightless New Zealand bird. (New Zealanders also like to call themselves "Kiwis".) The kiwi (bird) is unusual in at least two respects. First, it is the only bird in the world that has its nostrils at the end of its beak. Second, the female kiwi has the largest egg, in proportion to its body size, of any bird in the world (except possibly for the hummingbird). Kiwi are about the same size as chickens, but their eggs are almost as big as those of ostriches! Kiwi birds have been designated as New Zealand "honorary mammals". The only real native mammals in New Zealand are two kinds of forest-dwelling bats. Biologists and the like please note: the kiwi is a member of the order Apterygiformes and comes in six species, including (Apteryx mantelli, Apteryx australis, Apteryx oweni, and Apteryx haasti). Recent research seems to indicate that the kiwi evolved after New Zealand broke away from the ancient Australia/Antarctica supercontinent. However, kiwi left Australia for New Zealand at some point, possibly on land links via New Caledonia. So, although there are no wild kiwi left there, Australians may also proudly point to the kiwi as "their bird". You may see many beautiful New Zealand birds here, including a picture of a white kiwi and some information on how kiwi raise their young. Operation Nest Egg has a recording of the kiwi bird's voice. Caution! Turn your computer's speaker DOWN before visiting it. The male kiwi has a very loud voice!

The difference between "kiwi" and "kiwifruit"

The "kiwi" is not to be confused with "kiwifruit" - the brown furry fruit with the green flesh. Kiwifruit (Actinidia Chinesis) is a native of the Yangtse Valley in south central China where it is known as Yang Tao, or "monkey peach". The fruit was originally called a "Chinese gooseberry" in English. Sometime in the 1960s, kiwifruit farmers in New Zealand decided to market the fruit around the world, but decided to give it another name. "Chinese gooseberries" sounded sour, and were associated with the then-dreaded "Red China" plus the name was just not "sexy"! To help identify the fruit with New Zealand, the much cuter name "kiwifruit" was chosen.

Some people refer to kiwifruit as "kiwis", but this is incorrect. (New Zealanders also find this very irritating!) A "kiwi" is a bird, a human New Zealander,or me (my nickname is "Kiwi Bird", and I'm a native St. Louisan). The kiwi bird's name comes from the Maori language, and imitates the cry of the male kiwi during the mating season. The first European settlers to encounter the kiwi very sensibly used the Maori name, which is probably thousands of years old, rather than trying to rename the bird. So, remember, that little brown berry is a "kiwifruit", not a "kiwi"! If my page doesn't convince you, see this side-by-side comparison.

Helping Kiwis

The kiwi is an endangered species. It's disappearing at a rate of 5.8 % per year, threatened by imported predators.such as dogs and stoats and by loss of habitat. If you'd like to help, visit the Kiwi Recovery Program at the Bank of New Zealand. There's lots of information there, plus a really cute (though large) kiwi screen saver! A particularly wonderful article about kiwi birds and how they are being saved is at the Smithsonian Magazine web site. You can find news from one Kiwi Sanctuary here, and regular updates about kiwi are available from KiwiNewZ. Another fascinating sanctuary, Kakapo Recovery, has a beautiful site here.

Could I have a kiwi bird as a pet?

I've received email from people who wonder if I think that kiwi would make good pets. In a word, no! For one thing, I don't approve of keeping endangered species as pets. As you can tell, I love the kiwi dearly, but I'd never take one away from the wild or a zoo to make it my companion. It just wouldn't be fair. Kiwi don't talk, or sing pretty songs. They won't sit on your lap or learn to do tricks. Kiwi are very strong and often extremely bad tempered. Adult birds use their razor sharp claws to defend themselves. Extremely territorial, they protect their territories by calling, or chasing an intruder and kicking it. Furthermore, nocturnal pets are not all that much fun for most people. Do you really want to get up in the middle of the night to see your pet during the only hours when it's awake and active? You could spend an enormous amount of money to build a "reversed lighting" setup for your kiwi, but this is such a daunting project that not even many zoos have done it. Enjoy kiwi birds on line, in zoos, or in the wild, and consider finding toys and collectibles at such sites as e-Bay if you just have to own one of your own.

Kiwi Bird Fun!

Since most of this page is sort of serious, I've collected some kiwi bird fun here. Please let me know if you find more kiwi bird fun sites!

Seeing Kiwi in the U.S.A.

Several zoos in the United States have kiwi birds on display. Since the kiwi is a nocturnal animal, some of the habitats have "reversed diurnal" lighting, i.e., the lighting in the enclosure looks like night to the kiwi, and no daylight is allowed in. The National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. has such an exhibit, as well as a weekly "Meet a Kiwi" session. The Brookfield Zoo near Chicago, Illinois, is no longer using the reversed diurnal method, since they are hoping that their pair will breed under more natural conditions. You'll need to visit their "Be a Bird" display after 2 p.m. in order to see the kiwi awake and moving around. You may wish to take binoculars with you, as the kiwi are difficult to see against the mulch which covers the floor of the exhibit.

You can also visit kiwi at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California. If I've missed any good kiwi exhibits in the U.S., please let me know! You can find a list of zoos in other countries with kiwi exhibits courtesy of the Kiwi Recovery Program.

One of the nicest zoo pages I've found with information about kiwi is at the Auckland Zoo. If you'll search on kiwi birds, you'll find a wonderful picture of a kiwi bird and some information on the kiwi who live there.

If you're like me, you wonder what kiwi birds who live in zoos eat, since you usually don't find worms indoors. According to Operation Nest Egg, kiwi chicks being hand-raised start on ox heart cut up into "worms", greens, fruit and vitamin and mineral supplements. When they are older, worms and berries are sometimes put into their enclosure for them to sniff out.

Student Researchers, Please Note!

A special note to students doing research for school papers: The word "research" does not mean "getting someone else to do your work for you". Please do not write me notes such as "please send me everything you know about kiwi birds plus lots of pictures". I do NOT have any other pictures or information to send you. I am neither an expert nor in the high-priced business of writing term papers. All the information I have on kiwi is either on these pages, or can be accessed by clicking on the links shown in blue. This site is intended as a gateway, rather than a source of authoritative information. If you do have further questions, be sure to actually go to those linked pages and read them before asking me anything other than very simple questions. You can find real experts on those pages who can answer more complicated questions. Plus, you are really supposed to do your homework yourself!

Please send comments about this page to Kiwi Carlisle who warns you that you should read the paragraph above the green bar before sending any mail. Snippy and/or abusive email will be handled appropriately. By the way, we filter out all spam!

This site last modified 4/29/03. Visitors 417504