Little Spotted Kiwi

Little Spotted Kiwi

Little grey kiwi, Little spotted kiwi, Little grey kiwi

4 languages
Apteryx owenii
Population size
Life Span
33-45 yrs
0.88-1.9 kg
35-45 cm

The little spotted kiwi, or little grey kiwi, Apteryx owenii, is a small flightless bird in the kiwi family Apterygidae. It is the smallest species of all 5 kiwis, at about 0.9 to 1.9 kg (2.0–4.2 lb), about the size of a bantam. It is endemic to New Zealand, and in pre-European times occurred in both main islands, but is now restricted to a number of small offshore islands and mainland reserves protected by pest-exclusion fences.








Flightless bird








Generally solitary


Not a migrant


starts with


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 habitat map

Climate zones

Little Spotted Kiwi habitat map
Little Spotted Kiwi
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Little spotted kiwi are omnivores. They eat grubs and other small insects that are found underground, and occasionally berries, fallen fruit, and leaves.

Mating Habits

63-76 days
2-3 weeks
1-2 eggs

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.


Population threats

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.

Population number

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.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Little spotted kiwi is the smallest species of all 5 kiwis.
  • The largest egg in comparison with the size of the bird is laid by the Little spotted kiwi. Its egg accounts for 26 percent of its own weight - the equivalent of a human woman giving birth to a six-year-old child.
  • For their round-bellied appearance, Māori call Little spotted kiwi the ‘kiwi pukupuku’.
  • Kiwi are sometimes called ‘te manu huna a Tāne’ which is translated as the hidden bird of Tāne, the god of the forest.
  • Kiwi have an excellent sense of smell but very poor vision. At night, they can see 6 feet (1.8 meters) in front of themselves and during the day only 2 feet (60 centimeters).


1. Little Spotted Kiwi on Wikipedia -
2. Little Spotted Kiwi on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About