The United States has the large and fierce bald eagle as its national bird, but New Zealand chose to have a small bird that cannot fly. New Zealand is a great place and it was the first country to give women the vote.
If you are a tourist to the Untied States, there are places in the wild where you can see their national symbol flying in the sky and scooping down to catch fish with their big talons.
If you are a tourist to New Zealand, it is difficult to see a Kiwi. They are noctural birds and very shy. There is no country but New Zealand where you can find Kiwi birds. (Yes, you may see them in zoos world-wide).
The Kiwi is Unique
Perhaps, New Zealand chose the Kiwi as its national bird because it is so unique.
—It has tiny wings, yet it cannot fly.
—Unlike any other bird, the Kiwi has nostrils at the end of its beak.
This long beak and great sense of smell helps the Kiwi find food.
—Like other birds, the Kiwi eats worms, spiders and bugs.
—The people of New Zealand are careful to keep their dogs from catching Kiwis. In fact, there are training schools to stop dogs
from catching this wonderful bird. If attacked, the Kiwi will scratch, kick or run away.
—Most birds have feathers but not the Kiwi, but it does have whiskers like a cat.
How Long Does a Kiwi Live?
Kiwis can live between 25-50 years. Only 5 out of every 100 chics survive to adulthood. However, living for a long time helps to produce more chics.
Kiwis freeze when a predator is near. This non-movement helps it to survive. Its feathers are patterned so that it can blend in with its surroundings. The dark feathers makes it difficult for predators to see at night time; the only time that it comes out to eat.
Using its Nose and Not it’s Eyes
Most birds rely on their eyes for survival and to see food. Not the Kiwi, it has small eyes. It has a great sense of smell which is beyond that of most birds. It feels, smells and finds it way around in the dark.
Producing Young Chics.
Female Kiwis have to wait up to three years to produce chics. Most birds have small eggs in comparison to the size of their bodies. This is not the case with the Kiwi. The incredibly big ostrich lays an egg that is only 2% the size of its body. The Kiwi lays an egg that is 15% the size of her body. It is the male that sits on the egg from 74-90 days. When the chics grow up the females will be larger than the males. This is unusual in the world of birds.
A Varied Diet
The Kiwi is omnivorous, that means that it will eat meat and vegetables, plant and berries. It will get the meat from millipedes, slugs, snails, spiders and other insects.
I have been lucky to see a kiwi. I went to have a native (Maori) meal with music and dancing. The Maori lived in New Zealand before the arrival of British and European settlers. After the meal, we were invited to come into a darkened area. Dim lights allowed us to see Kiwis as they dug for food. It was a wonderful experience. This is a unique bird. I know why it is New Zealand’s national bird.