The Kiwi Bird is one of the few flightless birds that are a native to New Zealand. They are not one of nature’s most beautiful birds, but they are high on the New Zealand Endangered List. They can be located in the forest, scrub and even high grassland of the nation. Kiwi birds are solitary survivors of an ancient order of birds and are related to the now extinct Moas.
Growing to the size of an average chicken, this flightless and mostly nocturnal bird has a covering of coarse stiff feathers that are more hair like in their look and feel. Although physically they appear awkward, they can actually outrun a human.
Kiwis not only separate themselves from the rest of their cousins by not flying, but they also differ in handling their young. Their breeding season begins in late winter and continues to late summer. The Kiwi Bird’s eggs are larger than any other bird of their same size and proportion. Eggs can grow up to one fourth of the size of the adult female Kiwi Bird. Kiwi Birds are known to live on average up to twenty years.
With the Kiwi birds lack of flight they cannot build nests in trees like other birds. They actually form or create a burrow for living. The burrow is where they lay their eggs and the young chicks remain after emerging from the egg.
Other atypical facts about the Kiwi Bird is that the babies emerge from their eggs with their full adult covering or plumage and are not fed by the adult male or female birds. Nourishment for the newborn chicks is provided by an enormous reserve of yolk already in their stomachs. Chicks are generally in the nest for up to ten days. No one is certain if the Kiwi Bird leaves the nest as a young chick because of hunger or not. However, after they do leave the nest, the male accompanies them to search for food.
The dwindling of the Kiwi Bird population can be attributed to Europeans during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Kiwi Bird was put into captivity by thousands of zoos, museums and private collections. In addition to mankind capturing the birds their natural habitat was also effected. Bush where they formally lived and hid from natural predators was cleared which exposed them not only to predators but also opossum traps and motor vehicles which rapidly reduced their numbers. Bush was cleared to make way for civilization which simply pushed them further and further into the role of being endangered.
Kiwi Birds as an emblem for the New Zealand people appeared initially in the late nineteenth century on a handful of regimental military associated badges. As time marched on, New Zealand included the Kiwi Bird in numerous military badges. The Auckland University College which opened in 1883 included the Kiwi Bird on their Coat of Arms. Students so loved the little bird that they developed a magazine publication named The Kiwi that was published for over sixty years from 1905 through the mid-1960s.
Kiwi shoe polish is named for the Kiwi Bird. Kiwi shoe polish was internationally known in 1906. Launched by an entrepreneur from Melbourne with a wife from New Zealand, Kiwi shoe polish is still popular today. During WWI the polish was introduced to American military men and is still used all over America.
During the World Wars New Zealand military men were affectionately called Kiwis after the Kiwi Bird. In 1908 the Kiwi Bird became more widespread as they were used in cartoons, sporting and numerous political newspaper caricatures.
The Kiwi Bird is why New Zealand people are affectionately nicknamed as Kiwis at home and abroad and the Kiwi is still innately tied to the armed forces of New Zealand. The New Zealand dollar is called the Kiwi and the form and likeness of the bird can be seen on coat of arms, crests and badges for numerous New Zealand cities, clubs and organizations.
come and join us here at Triond. click here
pics are courtesy of http://www.chemistry.co.nz/kiwibird.htm