Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in New Zealand

June 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

New Zealanders are often referred to as Kiwis due to their national bird being the elusive kiwi bird. To preserve and assist in the rehabilitation of the wild kiwi numbers in the country, the Kiwi Encounter facility was opened at Rainbow Springs, Rotorua. The facility not only studies and oversees breeding projects but also educates the public on this iconic bird. It is also a tourist attraction, allowing overseas visitors into the world of this wonderful bird, where they can learn more about the fight to protect this bird from extinction.

The kiwi is probably one of the most fascinating birds on the planet and scientists have been studying this intriguing bird for years due to its unusual features and habits. Firstly, the kiwi is a nocturnal bird, sleeping in a burrow for most of the day, while foraging in the evenings. It is black in color and has very tiny wings, making it unable to fly. Its plumage resembles fur and it has an impeccable sense of smell, with its nostrils being located at the end of its beak. It is also the only bird in the world where the female has two ovaries, and instead of boasting tail feathers, it has whiskers. Not only is their sense of smell flawless, but their hearing is also extremely sensitive, making up for the fact that their eyesight is not as good as other nocturnal creatures. The kiwi’s dark coloring allows it to camouflage itself perfectly at night, and it will stand dead still, while blending into its environment, if a predator is in the vicinity. They feed mainly on insects and worms, and are very territorial.

When in the wild, campers and hikers will often hear the sniffing of a kiwi bird as it searches for food without seeing it. At Kiwi Encounters a nocturnal area has been created to resemble the birds’ natural habitat as closely as possible, including high tech lighting, creating an artificial moonlit evening, and allowing visitors to see them forage for food and go about their evening routines. There are also outdoor enclosures to investigate, some of which feature predators. The Kiwi Culture Exhibit provides the public with essential information in regard to the birds’ characteristics, origins and predators, which could include domesticated animals. It also features how New Zealanders were given the nickname of Kiwis and where products such as kiwi fruit and kiwi nuggets got their names.

The nursery and hatchery is where the captive breeding program is controlled and run. Their dietary needs are seen to through breeding facilities for worms and all the other creatures that kiwis prefer eating. Kiwi Encounter is an attraction for the entire family to enjoy, as it has specialized exhibits and interactive programs for children. Visiting the Kiwi Encounter centre is not only educational and exciting, but with each visitor passing through its doors, funds are being raised to continue the invaluable work of conservationists and scientists to save the kiwi bird.

New Zealand’s Mischievous Kea Parrot

November 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Not very many people have heard of a Kea Parrot. This average-sized parrot hails from the forested and alpine regions of New Zealand‘s South Island and it is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species due to its relative scarcity. What makes this bird so special is the fact that it is one of the few true alpine parrots in the world. It is also an omnivore, feeding on carrion and insects in addition to the roots, berries, nectar and leaves that make up the bulk of its diet.

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Alien Predators Outsmarted by Birds

June 6, 2008 by  
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Recent research reveals that the New Zealand bellbird is able to change its nesting behavior if necessary in order to protect itself from predators. The finding is of massive importance since the introduction of alien predators has been a threat that shore birds have had to face for many years. Often this usually unintentional phenomenon results in the extinction of a number of endemic bird species and some 25 percent of all endangered species continue to be under threat from exotic predators.

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The Rare Takahe of New Zealand

April 14, 2008 by  
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The colorful and unusual takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) is not a bird that many people are familiar with. In fact, it wasn’t very long ago when the bird was thought to be extinct since there were no sightings from 1948 until very recently. So, while very few people are aware of its existence, takahes are slowly being cast under the ornithological spotlight since the re-emergence of this species has many bird enthusiasts nattering enthusiastically amongst one another.

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Kiwi Birds

March 4, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

One of the world’s oddest bird species is the kiwi. This New Zealand bird species seems to break all the rules on what it means to be a bird:

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