Kiwi are a family of birds endemic to New Zealand. There are five species of kiwi: Great Spotted, Okarito Brown (Rowi), Tokoeka, Little Spotted and North Island Brown.
Almost everything about them is unique. Over millions of years, kiwi adapted to live in an environment unlike anywhere else on Earth, free from the threats of mammals. It's pretty safe to say the kiwi is a biological oddity.
Lean more about kiwi here.
Why are they so special?
Unlike most birds, they have a highly developed sense of smell and touch, and strong hearing. Where bird skeletons are typically light and filled with air sacs to enable flight, the kiwi has heavy, muscular legs that make up almost a third of their weight: perfect for a life spent on the ground.
Kiwis dig burrows for their nests, something we associate more with rats and other ground-based mammals than any birds. And the eggs they lay are enormous, nearly 20% of their bodyweight, proportionally one of the largest of any bird. Kiwi chicks emerge from their eggs with full plumage and are capable of feeding themselves.
Did you know?
Kiwi eat small stones that grind up food in their gizzard.
Kiwi have a good sense of smell which they use to find grubs and worms underground.
What's happening to our kiwi?
All species of kiwi are threatened, the rarest of these is Rowi, a species found only in a small area of the South Island which number less than 400 individuals.
A life spent on the ground carries with it many risks, and the characteristics that make our kiwi unique have also put it in danger of extinction. As many as 95% of kiwi chicks born outside of pest controlled areas do not survive past six months. The biggest threats to kiwi are introduced predators such as dogs and stoats, loss of habitat, and us.
What WWF is doing
We partner with community-led groups with the expertise to protect kiwi.
We have supported community groups in translocations (moving kiwi from one part of the country to another), developing breeding facilities, predator eradication and employing kiwi rangers. We even backed kiwi as our bird of the year in 2012!