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What am I sappy Kiwi blogging?

September 1, 2017

Image credits: Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust.

“Kiwi are only found in New Zealand and are part of the group of ratites, which includes ostriches and emus, and are actually the smallest members of the group. For comparison, they are about the same size as a chicken. Though it was expected that the kiwi would be more closely related the moa (extinct), which also lived in New Zealand, they actually are much more closely related to the elephant birds of Madagascar (also extinct). It is hypothesized that the kiwi’s ancestor was able to fly and reached New Zealand separately from moas. Once on the island, it lost its ability to fly and eventually became the kiwi bird known today. Actually, the Latin genus name of kiwi birds, Apteryx, is based on their inability to fly. The “a-” means “without” and “pterux” means “wing”. They do have very tiny, vestigial wings, but you can barely see them and they aren’t any help with levitation.”

Kiwi have feathers that look like hair and very strong, muscular legs. They rule the ground instead of the air. They can smell very well and are the only bird that have nostrils at the end of their beaks, which are quite long. They use their nostrils to sniff out invertebrates and seeds to eat. They can use just smell to detect food.

Kiwi birds are quite shy and usually only come out at night. Kiwi can live a long time, between 25 and 50 years. Once a male and female bond they spend their whole lives as a monogamous couple. During the mating season, they call to each other at night, and meet each other about every three days in the nesting burrow. Kiwi live in forests, scrublands, and grasslands. They sleep in burrows, hollow logs, or in the middle of dense vegetation. They are very territorial and defend their territory against other kiwi. Another weird fact is that, according to the San Diego Zoo, kiwi have the lowest body temperature of any bird, 38 °C (100 Fahrenheit).

The size of an egg inside of a kiwi. Image credits: Matt Chan.

The females carry huge eggs for their body size. A female can carry an egg up to one-quarter of their body weight. As mentioned before, the kiwi is about the same size as a chicken but its egg is actually six times as large as a chicken’s egg. The reason for this is that the kiwi bird doesn’t have to fly so there aren’t any constraints on its weight. It doesn’t need to be aerodynamic. Kiwi also has marrow in their bones, like humans, which also makes them heavier.  The female has to eat three times as much as usual to help the egg develop. Right before the egg is laid she can’t eat anything because the egg presses against her stomach, leaving no room for food. Tthe chicks hatch pretty much developed; they have feathers already and fend for themselves right from the get-go. However, they take between three and five years to grow to their full size.”

Reblogged from Animal Files at ZME Science.

 

7 comments

  1. OK, so how come the smartie pants scientists didn’t name them ‘tiny wings’. What’s with their ‘no wings’ name? Hmmmmm? 🙂


    • And where do they keep their extra set of legs?


      • Under their tiny wings of course!


  2. Oh, and I just now noticed what they are dining on. Ha!


    • Cannibals!


      • Fruitarians!


      • 🙂



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