Southern Brown Kiwi

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(New page: '''Common Name:''' Southern Brown Kiwi<br> '''Māori Name:''' Tokoeka<br> '''Scientific Name:''' Apteryx australis '''Size:''' 19.7-25.6 inches (50-65 cm); '''Bill Length:''' 4.3-6.1 inch...)
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Revision as of 16:59, 6 February 2016

Common Name: Southern Brown Kiwi
Māori Name: Tokoeka
Scientific Name: Apteryx australis

Size: 19.7-25.6 inches (50-65 cm); Bill Length: 4.3-6.1 inches (11-15.5 cm) in the male, 5.1-8 inches (13-20.5 cm) in the female.

Habitat: Oceania; endemic to New Zealand. Found on the southwestern South Island and Stewart Island.

This kiwi is found in subtropical to temperate forests and shrub lands, especially wet forests of podocarps and hardwoods. It is found also in pine plantations and in farmlands and pastures. The nominate race occurs in forests, subalpine scrub and tussock grasslands in Fiordland, and the A. a. lawryi race occurs in coastal sand dunes on Stewart Island.

Status: Vulnerable. Global population: 20,000 adult individuals or less with a declining population trend of 2% per year. The introduced brush-tailed possum and stoat eat kiwi eggs, while domestic cats eat the chicks and juveniles (up to 1,200), and dogs and ferrets kill juveniles and adults. The predation pressure is possibly lower on Stewart Island where mustelids are absent, and dogs are prohibited from most of the island. However, cats are widespread and common. The rate of loss of native habitat has declined markedly and this is not currently considered a driver for population reductions. New avian diseases and pathogens are a potential threat, particularly with the importation of non-native but closely related ratites to New Zealand. The Haast population is at risk from random catastrophic events due to the small population size and isolation. It also suffers from low fertility rates.

Diet: Mostly invertebrates from soil and leaf litter. Prey includes spiders, beetles, millipedes, centipedes, earthworms and larva.

The kiwi searches the ground and detects prey mainly by smell. It’s bill is then inserted and the prey is uncovered by a back-and-forth levering motion of head and neck.

Nesting: Sexes are similar in plumage, however the female is larger and longer-billed than the male. It is a flightless nocturnal bird with rotund appearance, it lacks a visible tail, and has a very long, slightly decurved bill and short, thick legs. The plumage appears hair-like and softer than the Northern Brown Kiwi. The head is dark gray, palest in the face. There are long black bristles around the base of the bill. The hind neck and upper-parts are dark reddish-brown with black streaks (which can appear mostly black). The lower-parts are lighter gray to gray-brown. The iris is blackish-brown and the bill is ivory to pink creme. The legs are pinkish to brown. Race A. a. lawryi differs from the nominate race in having plumage that is less coarse and the feathers of the upper-part are smaller with the streaking finer. The bill is longer and darker (slate-colored, but often cream to light pinkish-horn, sometimes brown at the base). The legs may be blue-gray.

The juvenile is similar to the adult, but with smaller, softer feathers. There is no real ‘downy stage’ in this species.

Kiwis are monogamous with a life-long bond. Breeding season occurs from June through February. The nest is a horizontal or slightly upward-sloping burrow which is 15.6-49.2 inches (40–125 cm) long and has a diameter of 4-8 inches (10–20 cm). It is dug by both sexes. Other times the nest will be in a well concealed, natural cavity in a log or beneath dense vegetation. Fern fronds are taken in as lining. A new nest site is used for each breeding attempt.

The clutch is 1-2 eggs, with 3 being very rare. They are laid 3 to 4 weeks apart. The egg coloring is white to greenish-white. The incubation is performed by both sexes for 75-84 days. The Kiwi hatch fully feathered and leave the nest unaccompanied at 2-3 weeks of age. This kiwi has an average life expectancy of 20 years.

Cool Facts: There are several subspecies recognized:

  • A. a. lawryi. The Stewart Island southern brown kiwi.
  • A. a. australis. The nominate species is known as the Northern Fiordland Brown Kiwi and lives in the remote southwest part of the South Island (known as Fiordland). This sub-species of Apteryx australis is relatively common. There are two variants of the nominate species as well:
    • The Southern Fiordland Kiwi live in the remote southwest part of the South Island known as Fiordland. It’s plumage is gray-brown.
    • The ‘Haast’ Southern Brown Kiwi is the rarest subspecies of kiwi with only about 300 individuals. It was identified as a distinct form in 1993. It occurs only in a restricted area in the South Island's Haast Range of the Southern Alps at an altitude of 1,500 m (4,900 ft). This form is distinguished by a more strongly downcurved bill and it’s distinctively rufous plumage.


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