The Kiwi bird is the smallest bird in the Ratite family, flightless birds usually characterized by being large in size and good at running (think Ostrich and Emu, members of the family). These birds are flightless due to a flat, raft-like sternum that does not have the same keel as other birds, a necessary anchor for the wing muscles. Their origination is controversial, most agreeing they evolved after dinosaurs, but not agreeing of which species they evolved. Evolving post-dinosaur extinction also lends itself to explain why these birds are usually large and flightless, not needing to flee these predators and having an abundance of food to eat. The Kiwi bird seems to be the exception to many characteristics of the family, mainly because of its size. The largest bird in the world and of the Ratite family is the Ostrich, sometimes growing as tall as 8 feet and as large as 400 pounds and then there's the Kiwi, the smallest of the family by far and growing only to the size of a chicken.Kiwi for sale
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There are 5 classifications of Kiwi and all are threatened or at risk. 68,000 Kiwi reside in New Zealand today, but an approximate 20 are lost per week. Kiwis are vulnerable to numerous threats throughout their life's stages. Before they are even hatched, their eggs are vulnerable to Pigs and Possums. Chicks are vulnerable to weasels and ferrets and then the adult Kiwi are vulnerable to even larger threats: cats, dogs, and vehicles to name only a few. In areas they call “managed”, volunteers maintain traps for predators, encourage pet owners to make responsible choices, influence drivers through signage, and fence in the Kiwi species whenever possible. Hatchlings rarely see their first 6 months in “unmanaged areas”. Cherished by virtually every culture of New Zealand, the conservation of this species is a high priority.
There are many things that make this bird particularly special. It is the only member of the Ratite family that is monogamous, with relationships lasting 20 years to life. During mating season the birds call out to their significant others at night and meet in their nests every three days. Once a female is fertilized by her male, she grows an egg inside her that's equal to 15-20% of her body! To put this into perspective, a human female grows a baby inside her that's 5% so this is significant for a little Kiwi. Most Ratites are territorial and can be aggressive when protecting their own, the Kiwi no exception. They've been known to attack with their claws and run, hiding easily in bushes with their more hair-than-feather like appearance. They are also extremely intelligent in the way that they can smell prey beneath the ground and cannot be easily fooled by recorded Kiwi calls because of their excellent memories and ability to learn.
Certain species of Kiwi birds are kept in captivity by professional organizations in an attempt to revive their populations. They've discovered that hatching wild eggs in facilities and releasing them back into a "managed" habitat has worked best to succeed in their efforts. Extensive documentation, history and future planning for conservation of the Kiwi bird is abundant. Today Kiwis can be visited by the public in some zoos and sanctuaries around the world.