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Kiwi

Kiwi

The kiwi is a small flightless bird that is rarely seen. It spends its days in an underground burrow and emerges at night to feed. Kiwis live on the islands of New Zealand.

The kiwi has a big round body and short, stubby legs with large feet and long sharp claws. A mature kiwi stands just a bit over 24 inches (61 cm) tall and weighs just 6 to 8 pounds (2.7-3.6 kg). Kiwis are covered with soft, furlike plumage that is downy, not feathery.

Kiwis have long, slender bills up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. The kiwi uses its bill to tap the ground and sniff for food. Kiwis eat earthworms, cicadas, beetle larvae, centipedes, and fallen fruit. The kiwi has very poor eyesight; it detects its prey by sound, smell, and touch. A kiwi walks slowly probing the ground with its bill to find food.

The kiwi has an excellent sense of smell. It is the only bird that has nostrils at the end of its bill. When the kiwi detects prey underground, it can push its entire bill into the soil to get food.

The kiwi lays a very large egg.

The female kiwi lays the largest egg of any bird relative to its body size. A kiwi’s egg is equal to 20 percent of its body weight. A kiwi egg will be about 5 inches (12.7 cm) long. A kiwi egg takes a month to develop and in that time it grows so large the female can barely stand and must stop hunting for food. Once an egg is laid, incubation takes 12 weeks; the male kiwi sits on the egg for most of the incubation period.

Kiwis prefer to live in rainforests where the humidity is high and the soil is easy to dig. Kiwis nest in underground burrows and dens which they dig out using their sharp claws. Once a burrow is dug, the kiwi will not use it until it becomes overgrown and camouflaged with foliage; this may take months or years.

Kiwis live between 25 and 50 years. A baby kiwi reaches maturity in about three years. There are five species of kiwi; the kiwis’ botanical name is Apteryx.

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