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North Island brown kiwi
Apteryx mantelli
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Eoaves
Order Information
Superorder Palaeognathae
Order Struthioniformes
Sub-order Struthioni
Infraorder Struthionides
Family Information
Family Apterygidae
Genus Information
Genus Apteryx
Species Information
Species A. australis
A. haastii
A. mantelli
A. owenii
A. rowi
Population statistics

For the fruit, see Kiwi (fruit)

Kiwi are any of the five species of small flightless birds endemic to New Zealand of the genus Apteryx (the only genus in family Apterygidae). At around the size of a domestic chicken, kiwi are by far the smallest living ratites, although in comparison to their body size their egg (weighing as much as a quarter of the adult bird's weight) is proportionately the largest of all birds. Kiwi are nocturnal and live mainly by foraging with their long beaks for earthworms and other invertebrates in leaf litter, which they find using their sense of smell, which is unusually well-developed for a bird. Unusually for a bird, their nostrils are positioned at the distal end of the beak.

All five kiwi species are much reduced in range and now protected, though the large size of their eggs does offer some protection against the depredations of rats, compared to other ground-nesting native birds such as the kakapo and takahe.

The kiwi is a national symbol of New Zealand, and the term is often used to describe a person from New Zealand.


There are five species of kiwi

  • Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii; 600 population in the wild, stable)
  • Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii; 12,000-17,000, declining)
  • North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli; est. 25,000, declining)
  • Tokoeka (Apteryx australis; est. 300, critical status)
  • Rowi / Ōkārito Brown Kiwi (Apteryx rowi; est. 250, critical status)


Nearly all species of kiwi in the wild have population rates that are declining, except those living in predator-free locations. The current population estimate for all kiwis is around 78,000 (down from 100,000 in 1998.) Some species are so low in numbers that a localized disaster could decimate or completely wipe out last the remaining wild populations. At the current decline rate the New Zealand Department of Conservation estimates the kiwi population on the mainland could be near non-existent by 2050.


Most conservation efforts are focused around pest eradication and incubating eggs taken from the wild in special care facilities, then releasing them back into the wild when they are old enough to fend for themselves. There are also captivity breeding programs at various locations within New Zealand.

In 2004, all hybrid breeding programs were abandoned.


The ancestors of modern Kiwi were created by God and were on Noah's ark. After the Flood, these kiwi bred from the Ark passengers and migrated to New Zealand. Their migration may have been aided by Ice Age land bridges,[1] and they may have been able to fly, and lost that ability since.[2]