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The First Kiwi Hatches at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center

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It's no easy task to hatch out of an egg —just ask the season's first North Island Brown Kiwi chick to be hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center in New Zealand. The chick, now 11 days old, is pictured at six days old, being fed its first meal of beef heart strips by captive breeding ranger Darren Page. It will soon start to feed by itself. At that stage it will be put into a safe pre-release enclosure and monitored closely for the next six to eight months. Once it reaches a goal weight of 2.6 pounds (1200 g), it will be released into the Pukaha Mount Bruce reserve.  Kiwis who reach this size are more able to survive the threat of predators such as rats, stoats and ferrets and will grow and flourish in the wild.

The second kiwi chick of the season was found hatched in its burrow and brought in to the center to be raised in safety, as many wild chicks do not survive when stoats are on the prowl. Three more eggs are currently in the incubators in the Kiwi house and more will be coming in throughout the next few weeks. Staff at Pukaha Mount Bruce expect to raise over 20 Kiwi chicks in their nursery for release during this breeding season. 

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7 kiwiPhoto credits: Wairarapa Times Age (1,2); Beau Elton (3-7) 

About the size of domestic chickens, Kiwis are flightless birds related to ostriches and emus. These shy, nocturnal birds are found only in New Zealand. All five species of Kiwi are decreasing in number, threatened by loss of habitat and by mammalian predators introduced by humans. Kiwis are fiercely territorial and the only birds in the world known to have nostrils at the end of their bills. This allows them to sniff for food including worms, grubs, insects and berries, during the night when they are active. North Island Brown Kiwis are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, with the wild population estimated at 35,000.