How big are kiwi birds

A weird bird: five facts about the kiwi

It is New Zealand's national symbol, and even the people of the country name themselves after it: the kiwi is a very special bird for the kiwi. Rightly. Five little stories about the nerd

Why is the kiwi actually called "Kiwi"?

One theory is that the kiwi is named for its reputation, which sounds like "kiiii-wiiii". That would be very flattered, however: a female who calls her partner after sunset grunts more like an excited piglet (audio sample at Another theory is that the kiwi were named after a curlew with a similarly long beak, which is Polynesian called kivi.

The thing with the egg

It is not easy for female kiwis: Most species lay a veritable giant egg once or twice a year. It takes up to 25 percent of her body weight - which is like a 60-pound woman having to give birth to a 15-pound baby. Shortly before laying, the egg presses on the internal organs in such a way that the female can no longer eat. Hatching, which lasts more than ten weeks, is usually done by the male. Before hatching, the chick eats the rest of the yolk - and is then born with a full stomach - which saves a lot of work for the parents, who have already been stressed out: Kiwis do not have to feed their chicks.

Kiwis are loyal until they divorce

Kiwis are loyal souls: once they have decided on a partner, they usually live monogamous. Some Kiwi marriages last 20 years or more (Kiwis can live 25 years and older); the birds meet in one of their burrows every few days; at night they call each other in a kind of duet. However, there are also divorces, especially with younger birds or when it doesn't work out with the offspring. Or in areas where a particularly large number of kiwis live and where it is difficult to determine.

Why don't kiwis fly?

Have kiwis never been able to fly? Or did they forget at some point because there were no enemies in New Zealand to flutter away from? The scholars argue about this. One thing is certain: kiwifruit only have stubby wings about four centimeters long with small, functionless claws. According to a Maori legend, the kiwi has forfeited flying out of bravery: When beetles once attacked the trees, the forest god Tane Mahuta asked the birds whether they would come down from the treetops to the forest floor to help him against the insects. Only the kiwi agreed - although the forest god warned him that he would lose his shining feathers and strong wings and never see the light again. But for his courage, so the god, he becomes the best known and most popular bird of all. And so it happened.

How threatened is the kiwi?

The kiwi is threatened: only five percent of chicks reach adulthood. Their habitat is shrinking, and many of them fall victim to weasels, ferrets, cats or dogs. From once many millions of kiwis, the population has shrunk to an estimated 70,000 specimens - and every year their number falls by a further two percent. Environmentalists set up protection zones, raise chicks and bring them to safe territories. Dog owners should train their four-legged friends to be “kiwi aversion” with small electric shocks. October is also "Save Kiwi Month" in New Zealand: Everyone is called upon to report kiwi sightings, donate money and start school projects. And the whole year: if you find an injured kiwi, call the environmental agency's 24-hour hotline (Tel. 0800-36 24 68).

More facts about the kiwi and New Zealand can be found in GEO Special New Zealand.