The Little spotted kiwi is a small flightless bird native to New Zealand. Its feathers are pale-mottled grey, with fine white mottling, and are shaggy looking. The bird has large vibrissae feathers around the gape and lacks a tail; instead, it has a small pygostyle. The bill of the Little spotted kiwi is ivory and long and its legs are pale.
Little spotted kiwi are found in New Zealand, and in pre-European times occurred in both main islands. Today, these birds are restricted to a number of small offshore islands and mainland reserves protected by pest-exclusion fences. They live in broadleaf forests, rough grasslands, and shrublands.
Little spotted kiwi prefer to spend time singly and pairs can be seen together only during the breeding season. These birds are nocturnal and during the day rest in their burrows. As the night comes kiwis come out to feed. They walk slowly along tapping the ground in search of prey. Using their sharp talons and long beak, they dig into the ground and then shove their long beak down the softened ground. Since they can't fly to get to insects or food on trees and their eyesight is very poor, they depend on a keen sense of smell, long beak and talons. Little spotted kiwi call occasionally each night to advertise territory and to maintain contact with partners. Often pairs will duet. They are very territorial and fight conspecifics with their sharp claws, which usually results in lots of feathers on the ground.
Little spotted kiwi are monogamous and pairs generally mate for life. They nest in an excavated burrow, dug by both birds and sometimes line the nest with plant material. Eggs are laid from July to January. The clutch size is 1 to 2 eggs which are incubated by the male for a period of 63-76 days. The chicks hatch precocial (fully-developed) and for the first few days feed on the yolk sac in the egg. They stay in the nest for 2-3 weeks and become reproductively mature at 3 years of age.
Little spotted kiwi were once common on the western side of the South Island and in Marlborough. Then a regular trade in skins sprang up and large numbers were collected for European museums. Further, with the advance of European settlement, kiwi were killed by for food and their attendant dogs and cats took their toll. As the smallest species of kiwi, these little birds would be very vulnerable to the main kiwi predators like cats, dogs, and stoats, however, they are now restricted to several off-shore island reserves (mainly Kapiti Island) which are mostly free of introduced predators.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Little spotted kiwi population size is around 1,700 individuals, which is around 1,400 mature individuals. According to the New Zealand Birds Online resource the total population size of the species in 2012 was about 1,650 birds. This includes around 1,200 birds on Kapiti Island; 120 birds on Zealandia; 80 birds on Tiritiri Matangi; 70 birds on Red Mercury Island; 50 birds on Hen Island; 50 birds on Long Island; 50 birds on Chalky Island and 30 birds on Motuihe. 20 birds from Kapiti Island were translocated to Anchor Island (Fiordland) in April 2015. Overall, currently Little spotted kiwi are classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List but their numbers today are increasing.