Kiwis are so unlike other birds that they've been called "honorary mammals." Kiwis cannot fly, having evolved in New Zealand's island environment without mammalian predators. The only bird to have nostrils at the end of its beak, the kiwi snuffles and snorts as it probes the forest floor for worms and insects. Find out about Kiwi conservation at SaveThe Kiwi.
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By Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
Have you ever wondered how a rarely seen, nocturnal, flightless, muddy brown bird could become a national icon? [Kiwi calling] As you listen to the haunting, high-pitched, screeching of a New Zealand kiwi, imagine a fluffy, egg-shaped bird with sturdy legs and a long, probing beak.
Kiwis are so unlike other birds that they’ve been called “honorary mammals.” Kiwis cannot fly, having evolved in New Zealand’s island environment without mammalian predators. Because their feathers don’t need to support flight, they hang loose like hair, serving as effective camouflage. [More Kiwi calling]
That’s the Brown Kiwi calling a couple hours after dusk as it leaves its burrow. The bird’s night-time feeding habits allow it to occupy a niche normally filled by hedgehogs and anteaters. The only bird to have nostrils at the end of its beak, the kiwi snuffles and snorts as it probes the forest floor for worms and insects.
And even though very, very few New Zealanders have ever seen their national symbol in the wild, they proudly call themselves Kiwis. [More Kiwi calling]
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Call of the Brown Kiwi provided by Martyn Stewart, naturesound.org
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010 Tune In to Nature.org March 2010
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