Ōkārito Kiwi

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(New page: '''Common Name:''' Ōkārito Kiwi<br> '''Māori Name:''' Rowi<br> '''Scientific Name:''' Apteryx rowi '''Size:''' 21.6 inches (55 cm); '''Bill Length:''' 3.7 inches (9.5 cm) in the male, ...)
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Revision as of 16:53, 6 February 2016

Common Name: Ōkārito Kiwi
Māori Name: Rowi
Scientific Name: Apteryx rowi

Size: 21.6 inches (55 cm); Bill Length: 3.7 inches (9.5 cm) in the male, 4.9 inches (12.5 cm) in the female.

Habitat: Oceania; endemic to New Zealand. Found in Ōkārito on the west coast of South Island. They have recently been introduced to Mana, Motuara and Blumine Islands, in the Cook Strait region. Before human settlement of New Zealand the species was widespread throughout the northern South Island and into the southern North Island, as far north as Lake Poukawa.

The native population is now restricted to the coastal podocarp-hardwood forest between the Ōkārito River and the Waiho River.

Status: Endangered. Global population: 200-400 adult individuals with an increasing population trend. Predation, mainly by introduced animals such as possums and stoats, as well as domesticated dogs and cats, remains a problem, despite a stoat-control program.

Diet: Mostly invertebrates, especially earthworms, larvae of beetles, cicadas and moths.

It feeds by walking slowly along tapping the ground and probing its bill into leaf litter or rotten logs when food is detected.

Nesting: Sexes are similar in plumage, however the female is larger and longer-billed than the male. It is a flightless nocturnal bird with a rotund appearance, it lacks a visible tail, and has a relatively short, decurved bill and short, thick legs. The plumage appears hair-like. The head, neck and belly are noticeably gray with most individuals having some white feathering on the head, especially around the eyes. This species has very short black bristles around the base of the bill. The remainder of the bird is brown with dark streaks. The iris is blackish-brown and the bill is pink. The feet are pink or pale brown and the claws are off-white. The juvenile is similar to the adult, but with smaller, softer feathers. There is no real ‘downy stage’ in this species. The claws in juveniles are black.

This species is monogamous with most individuals pairing for life. Breeding season is from July through January. The nest is a concealed burrow or a natural cavity. The clutch is usually 1 egg, but can be up to 3 in a season. The egg coloring is white to greenish-white. The incubation is performed by both sexes. Kiwis hatch fully feathered and leave the nest unaccompanied at 1 week of age. This kiwi can live up to 100 years with the average life expectancy being 80 years.

Cool Facts: 'Operation Nest Egg' on Motuara Island (the removal of eggs or young chicks from the wild and rearing them in captivity until they are large enough to cope with the presence of stoats), allowed the population to increase to about 200 birds by 2000. A landscape-scale stoat trapping program, in South Ōkārito Forest from 2001-2005 largely failed to protect chicks from stoat predation ‘Operation Nest Egg’ was reinstated, leading to the recent rapid population growth. New populations have been established on Mana and Blumine Islands, but birds have yet to breed at these sites. The population has risen rapidly from 160 birds in 1995 to 375 in 2012 due to ‘Operation Nest Egg’.

Studies of ancient DNA has revealed that, in prehuman times, this kiwi was far more widespread up the western coast of South Island, and it was present even in the lower half of North Island. The Ōkārito Kiwi Sanctuary, covering 11,000 ha of protected forest, was set up in the year 2000, specifically for the conservation of this species.


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