There’s something soothing about this National Geographic video of the emergence in the dark of New Zealand’s most famous bird, the brown kiwi.
In the dead of night, the extremely rare, brown kiwi leaves his burrow for the pitch dark of the primeval New Zealand forest.
There are actually four species of brown kiwi. All live in the North Island and they are genetically distinct forms, according to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.
The four species:
Northland brown kiwi
Coromandel brown kiwi
Western brown kiwi
Eastern brown kiwi.
The brown kiwi is faster at breeding than other kiwi, producing up to two eggs a clutch, and one to two clutches a year,
For New Zealanders, brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) is the species they’re most familiar with. It is the species that lives closest to human habitation, familiar to many communities in Northland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, East Coast/Hawkes Bay and parts of Taranaki. It is also the main species on display in captivity.
This proximity of people to kiwi has created its own risks to birds through increased contact with dogs, cats and cars. However, it has also been a great advantage to the recovery of the species – hours and hours of effort from community initiatives in restoration benefit brown kiwi populations in many locations.
The bird is considered nationally vulnerable with a population of about 25,000 and while the brown kiwi is one of the country’s most common kiwi species; however, the population is steadily declining by about 2–3% a year.
Without ongoing support, experts estimate brown kiwi will be extinct in the wild within two generations.
The good news is that the brown kiwi is faster at breeding than other kiwi, producing up to two eggs a clutch, and one to two clutches a year, as opposed to the more usual one egg per year in other kiwi species. However, much of that good reproductive work is undone by the ravages of dogs, stoats, and loss of habitat.