The Endangered Kiwi Bird
The kiwi is a flightless bird native to New Zealand and lives in the mountains and the forests. Multiple New Zealand cultures cherish the kiwi bird. Unfortunately, the kiwi bird is endangered. At the time of publishing, the kiwi population is estimated to be around 68,000. As much as 2% of the population die each year. At one time, there were about 12 million kiwis, but as land and resources were used by humans, that number declined rapidly.
About the Kiwi Bird
The kiwi bird was first discovered in 1813 in New Zealand. They are nearly wingless, so they can not fly. The bird is about the size of a chicken. Kiwis live in burrows and come out at night to look for food. Because they are nocturnal, they rely on their extremely strong sense of smell to navigate in the dark. They eat plants, insects, bugs, worms, and fallen fruit. They can live anywhere from 25-50 years.
Threats to the Kiwi Bird
The main threats to the endangered kiwi are other animals. Because kiwis give themselves away by making so much noise as they scavenge for food, they become easy targets. Only 5% of kiwi birds survive after hatching. In addition to their low survival rate, their biggest predators are stoats, ferrets, and weasels, cats, and dogs.
The Kiwi Bird’s Importance to New Zealand
New Zealand has come together as a community to protect the endangered kiwi bird. In fact, there are more than 90 groups dedicated to protecting them. This national icon is important to all cultures in New Zealand. Above all, they represent the distinctiveness of New Zealand wildlife. The kiwi is considered a treasure to the Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand. They called it the hidden bird of Tāne, the God of the forest, or ‘te manu huna a Tāne’ in the native language Also, they used its feathers to weave a cloak for high ranking people.