Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kiwi Bird

Finds its way around with the aid of its beak...

The kiwi, also known by the name apteryx, is without a doubt one of the most interesting, curious birds in existence.  It lives only in New Zealand, where five species are found.  Out of those 5 species of the Kiwi Bird, two are currently vulnerable, one is endangered, and one is critically endangered.  All species have been adversely affected by historic deforestation, but currently large areas of their forest habitat are well protected in reserves and national parks. At present, the greatest threat to their survival is predation by invasive mammalian predators. The kiwi is a national symbol of New Zealand, and the association is so strong that the term Kiwi is used all over the world as the colloquial demonym for New Zealanders.

About the size of a chicken, this bird, which hardly merits being called "winged" since its wings are quite tiny and inadequate for flying, is covered with a kind of long and hairy plumage.  The base of the beak is circled by a thick moustache of tactile hairs.  Its eyes are very small and are of not much use, though it is a bird of nocturnal habits.  The feet are extremely robust and appear too large for a body of this size.  The kiwi bird is a remarkable runner and has long claws on its solidly built toes.
Its beak is probably the kiwi's strangest possession.  The beak is very long, slightly curved, and flexible; it is covered with a cutaneous membrane which is supplied with nerves.  The nostrils are placed near the end - unlike other birds where they are found at the base of the beak and seem to have an olfactory function which is unique in the feathered realm.

The kiwi emerges from its hiding place at night and begins to search the surface of the ground for the larvae of the insects which are its staple diet.  It scrabbles among the humus and the dead leaves beneath the trees and traces its prey by smell.  The extremely secretive life led by the kiwi bird in depths of the forest is still imperfectly understood.  The kiwi nests in a hollow trunk or between two large roots of a tree.  It lays only one egg, which is large when compared to the size of the hen kiwi and is the same size as a cassowary egg - enormous for a bird no bigger than a chicken.


*For additional information about this bird, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwi
*For interesting facts about kiwi birds, visit: http://www.kiwibird.org/interesting-facts-about-kiwi-birds-2.html

---End of Post "Kiwi Bird"

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