The Kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand, and such a recognisable symbol of the country that even humans from New Zealand are known worldwide as ‘Kiwis’ after this curious bird.
They are a relatively small breed, no bigger than a domestic chicken, and completely flightless. Their wings are very small. The Kiwi is mainly light brown, with a long beak and large feet.
The Kiwi can lay the largest egg in relation to body size of any bird – the eggs can be as much as 6 times the size of a chicken egg! These giant eggs take between 63 and 92 days to incubate. Producing the egg puts a huge amount of strain on the female, having to eat three times her normal amount of food for thirty days. Once the egg is produced the male takes over and incubates it. Seems fair!
There are five species of Kiwi and of these four are considered endangered or vulnerable. Great care is being taken to preserve the Kiwi – some Maori people see themselves as the guardian of the bird and whilst still using the feathers for their ‘kahu kiwi’ (traditional cloaks) they only use feathers from birds who have died of natural causes.