The North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) is a unique avian species native to New Zealand. It is distinguished by its flightless nature and a long, slender bill that it uses for foraging. The bird has evolved to have an acute sense of smell, which is exceptional among birds and is an indispensable tool in locating its primarily insect-based diet in its native forests and woodlands.


Being a nocturnal creature, the North Island Brown Kiwi has adapted its lifestyle to roam and forage at night. It uses its specialized bill to probe the ground, searching for insects and small invertebrates that form the bulk of its diet. Its keen olfactory senses are crucial, allowing it to locate prey even in complete darkness. One of the remarkable features of this species is its adaptability to varying habitats. Originally found in dense forests, the kiwi has exhibited remarkable resilience by adapting to various modified environments, including scrublands and agricultural farmlands. This adaptability has been a key factor in survival as human activities increasingly encroach upon natural habitats.


The North Island Brown Kiwi has benefitted from significant conservation efforts to preserve its numbers and habitat. Initiatives such as predator control and habitat restoration have positively impacted its population. As a result, the North Island Brown Kiwi stands as one of the more numerous species among its kin, offering a glimmer of hope for the broader conservation of these iconic New Zealand birds.



Physical Description:

The North Island Brown Kiwi features a shaggy, brownish-grey plumage that effectively serves as a camouflage mechanism within its native habitats of forests and woodlands. Its eyes are notably small, emphasizing its nocturnal lifestyle and reliance on other senses. At the base of its long beak, the bird has well-developed sensory whiskers that assist in navigating and locating food.

The bird is also equipped with strong, muscular legs that make it an agile runner, compensating for its lack of flight capabilities. These legs power its three-toed feet, each toe endowed with sharp claws. These claws aid in digging for food and serve a vital role when the bird needs to burrow for shelter or nesting purposes.

Lifespan: Wild: ~25 Years || Captivity: ~40 Years

Weight: Male: 4.6-6.8 lbs (2.1-3.1 kg) || Female: 5.3-8.2 lbs (2.4-3.7 kg)

Length: Male: 21-23 inches (53-58 cm) || Female: 23-25 inches (58-63 cm)

Height: Male: 15-17 inches (38-43 cm) || Female: 17-19 inches (43-48 cm)

Top Speed: 12 mph (19.31 km/h)

Native Habitat:

The North Island Brown Kiwi is native to New Zealand and primarily inhabits dense forests and woodlands on the country’s North Island. These environments offer it the thick understory it prefers for shelter and foraging activities. It is especially inclined to occupy areas of native bush, where it finds optimal conditions for its lifestyle.

However, due to habitat loss and changes in its natural environment, the North Island Brown Kiwi has shown a remarkable ability to adapt. It has extended its range to include scrublands, farmlands, and even pine plantations. This adaptability has been crucial for its survival in the face of increasing human activity and landscape modification.

Climate Zones:
Biogeographical Realms:

Diet & Feeding Habits:

The North Island Brown Kiwi primarily feeds on insects, making it predominantly insectivorous. It possesses an acute sense of smell to find underground prey, such as earthworms and grubs. Employing its long, sensitive bill, the kiwi digs into the soil to access and consume these subterranean food sources.

While insects comprise most of its diet, the North Island Brown Kiwi is also opportunistic regarding food choices. It will consume other small invertebrates, as well as seeds and fruits, when these are available. This dietary flexibility is particularly beneficial and has played a role in the bird’s ability to adapt to modified environments.

Mating Behavior:

Mating Description:

North Island Brown Kiwis are known to form monogamous pairs that frequently last a lifetime. The courtship between males and females often involves mutual grooming and singing duets, reinforcing their bonds and facilitating communication. The female, generally larger than the male, lays one to two large eggs each year, contributing to the species’ relatively low reproductive rate.

Once the eggs are laid, it is the male who takes on the responsibility of incubation. This process is particularly lengthy, taking about 70 to 85 days to complete. During this period, the male remains committed to keeping the eggs warm and protected until they hatch, playing a crucial role in the survival and continuation of the species.

Reproduction Season:

Birth Type:

Pregnancy Duration:

~85 Days (Incubation)

Female Name:


Male Name:


Baby Name:


Social Structure Description:

North Island Brown Kiwis are generally solitary birds but can form enduring monogamous pairs. These pairs share and actively defend a territory, marking their domain with the help of scent glands located near the base of their beaks. This behavior aids in establishing their presence and warding off potential intruders, stabilizing their local habitats.

Communication among North Island Brown Kiwis is predominantly vocal, featuring a unique series of distinct calls specific to this species. These vocalizations are essential in coordinating activities between mates and warning each other of potential threats. The calls also serve as an identification mechanism, allowing individual kiwis to recognize their partners and maintain strong pair bonds.


Conservation Status:
Population Trend:


Wild: ~20,000 || Captivity: Unknown


The North Island Brown Kiwi has an estimated population of 20,000 to 25,000 individuals in the wild, making it one of the more numerous kiwi species. Despite its numbers, the bird is categorized as Near Threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, current conservation efforts have managed to maintain a stable population trend, offering some optimism for its long-term survival.

Because of its relatively higher numbers than other kiwi species, the North Island Brown Kiwi is often a focus for conservation initiatives. Being more numerous makes it a suitable candidate for various conservation strategies, including habitat restoration and predator control programs. These efforts are essential for sustaining the species and improving its conservation status.

Population Threats:

The primary threats confronting the North Island Brown Kiwi are manifold, including habitat destruction, predation from introduced species, and vehicle strikes. Deforestation and the conversion of land for agricultural purposes have significantly reduced the bird’s natural habitat, placing pressure on its ability to forage and find suitable nesting sites. Such environmental degradation poses a considerable challenge to the survival of this species.

Predation is another significant threat, particularly from introduced species like stoats, dogs, and cats. These predators especially target the vulnerable eggs and young chicks, drastically affecting the kiwi’s ability to sustain its population. The impact of these predators exacerbates the precarious situation of the North Island Brown Kiwi due to habitat loss and human activity.

Conservation Efforts:

Conservation initiatives to protect the North Island Brown Kiwi have been extensive and multifaceted, involving habitat restoration and predator control programs. These efforts are often the result of collaboration between community groups, governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The joint endeavor has effectively stabilized the kiwi’s population and improved its conservation status.

These concerted efforts have stabilized the population and facilitated the reintroduction of the North Island Brown Kiwi into areas from which it had been previously extirpated. Such reintroduction programs are a promising step in this iconic species’ long-term recovery and sustainability. These initiatives signify the success of collective conservation action in making tangible improvements in the bird’s prospects for survival.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts

  • The North Island Brown Kiwi has nostrils at the tip of its bill, a unique feature among birds.
  • Despite having wings, it is unable to fly.
  • Kiwis have the largest egg-to-body weight ratio of any bird.
  • They have an excellent sense of smell, unusual for a bird.
  • The male is responsible for incubating the eggs.
  • They can live up to 50 years in the wild.
  • Kiwis are one of the oldest bird species, with ancestors dating back to the dinosaur era.
  • The bird has a keen hearing sense, which it uses with smell to locate prey.
  • North Island Brown Kiwis are more social compared to other kiwi species.
  • Due to extensive conservation efforts, they are the most numerous kiwi species.