44 / Kiwi

genus Apteryx

New Zealand’s most unusual bird is the kiwi. Despite this – or perhaps because of it – the kiwi has become an unofficial national symbol. As well as being flightless, nocturnal and having fur-like feathers, it is unusual for having an extraordinary sense of smell – a fact absurdly heightened due to its nostrils being at the tip of its long tapered bill. The female kiwi can also claim to lay the largest egg in relation to body size of any bird in the world. There are believed to be five species of kiwi and all are now endangered, a result of the destruction of their forest habitat and the introduction of predators such as possums and stoats. As well as giving its name to New Zealanders, who are often referred to as Kiwis, the bird has inspired an Australian boot polish and a New Zealand bacon factory, while the 1983 Melbourne Cup was won by a horse named Kiwi.

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