Kiwi Bird Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

The kiwi bird is a very unusual creature found in New Zealand. In this lesson, learn how this bird is a lot like a mammal, and find out its unique characteristics and habits that make it an unofficial symbol of New Zealand.

Symbol of New Zealand

When you hear the word kiwi, what do you think of? Probably a bright green fruit, right? Well in the country of New Zealand, a kiwi is a type of bird. And this bird is strange and special! A kiwi is in a group of birds called ratites. These are birds that don't fly, which is one of many ways a kiwi is unusual. These birds live all over New Zealand, from the mountains to the forests. Let's find out what makes kiwi birds so cool.

Kiwi birds can be found throughout New Zealand.
New Zealand

Bird or Mammal?

Not only does this bird share a name with a fruit, but it has a nickname as well. The kiwi bird is sometimes referred to as an honorary mammal. Why do you think it has earned this title? For starters, its feathers are so fine that they are more like hair. They make the kiwi bird look very fuzzy or furry, like a mammal.

The feathers of a kiwi are almost like the hair of a mammal.
New Zealand

Another unusual characteristic of the kiwi bird is that it has nostrils at the end of its beak. These are openings that help the kiwi have a very strong sense of smell. This is helpful for locating food that might be in the ground, especially since the kiwi bird does not have very good eyesight.

Life Cycle

A female kiwi will find a large area to lay her eggs, called a territory. Within the territory, the female will create burrows in the ground. In order to pick just the right spot, sometimes she will create as many as 50 burrows! A female kiwi will lay one or two eggs, and they are very large. She will grow a hairless patch on her stomach, called a brood patch, where the eggs get body heat to stay warm. When the kiwi baby is ready to hatch, it might take it up to three days to actually break out of the shell. Once it is out, the kiwi bird can leave the burrow after about five days.

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