Today’s edition is possibly a type of fruit.
The Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii) is the largest of the Kiwi species of flightless birds. While it is significantly smaller than the birds that have been covered so far, it is still considered to be a ratite. It can be found only on the southern island of New Zealand, and they are also called roroa, or the great gray kiwi. All types of kiwis have been affected by new species of predators that have been introduced to the islands (like ferrets, cats, stoats and dogs), but because the Great Spotted Kiwi lives at higher altitudes and less hospitable habitats than other kiwi species, it has seen less of a decline in population. Less is a relative term, though, because in the past 45 years, the overall population has been reduced by 43%.
Great Spotted Kiwis can stand up to 20 inches (50 cm) tall, with females being taller than males. Females are heavier, too, weighing in at 7.3 pounds (3.3 kg) while males weigh only 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg). Their bills can range in length from 3.5 to 4.7 inches (9 to 12 cm). Kiwis are the only birds whose nostrils are located at the far end of their bills, and they rely heavily on their sense of smell because of their poor eyesight. Their plumage is usually a mottled gray or brown color.
The diet of the Great Spotted Kiwi consists of almost anything edible it can find on the ground. It uses its sense of smell to locate prey, but it can also sense vibrations of potential prey by sticking its bill into the ground. They are nocturnal, and will eat grubs, weta, earthworms, beetles, crickets, spiders, cicadas, slugs, caterpillars and snails. They supplement this diet with seeds and berries that they also find on the ground, and they swallow pebbles to aid in digestion.
The breeding season of the Great Spotted Kiwi begins in May, when food is usually plentiful. Males and females form monogamous mating pairs, and the mating ritual begins when the male start to chase females around, until the female stops running and mates with him, or until he gives up and starts chasing another female. Females lay only one egg, and relative to her body size it is massive, almost a quarter of her size. It has a huge yolk inside, almost 65% of the weight of the egg. Before the egg is laid, it is taking up so much room inside the female’s body that she cannot eat for most of this period, and it is extremely uncomfortable for her. The egg is incubated by both parents for about 70 days, and the chick will stay with its parents for up to four weeks before starting to fend for itself.
Great Spotted Kiwis are considered to be a vulnerable species by the IUCN. The Kiwi Recovery Programme was started in 1991, and has launched predator-control initiatives. The kiwi populations are monitored by specially-trained dogs, leg bands and radio tracking.
Source for all images used in this post.