Northern Brown Kiwi

Northern Brown Kiwi

North Island brown kiwi

4 languages
Apteryx mantelli
Population size
Life Span
30-40 yrs
2.2-2.8 kg
40 cm

The North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli ; Apteryx australis or Apteryx bulleri as before 2000, still used in some sources) is a species of kiwi that is widespread in the northern two-thirds of the North Island of New Zealand and, with about 35,000 remaining, is the most common kiwi. It holds the world record for laying the largest eggs relative to its body size.








Flightless bird








Generally solitary


Not a migrant


starts with


The Northern brown kiwi is a flightless nocturnal bird that can found only in New Zealand. Its plumage is streaky red-brown and spiky. It has a long and curved bill with the nostrils located near the tip. This unique adaptation helps the kiwi during foraging because it locates its prey by smell rather than by sight.



Northern brown kiwi are widespread throughout the North Island, occurring near Northland, Coromandel, Eastern North Island, Aroha Island, Little Barrier Island, Kawau Island, Ponui Island, and the Whanganui Region. These birds have adapted to live on scrub-like farmland, pine (an introduced tree) plantations, and their native forests, however, they still prefer dense, sub-tropical and temperate forests.

Northern Brown Kiwi habitat map

Climate zones

Northern Brown Kiwi habitat map
Northern Brown Kiwi
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Habits and Lifestyle

Northern brown kiwi are generally solitary and spend time with their mates only during the breeding season. They are very territorial and sometimes may even fight. These birds are nocturnal and during the day rest in their burrows. Kiwi usually have several burrows within each territory which they excavate themselves. Sometimes kiwi may shelter under hollow logs or in shallow holes hidden between tree roots. To communicate with each other they use grunts, hisses, and snorts. Their common call sounds as ‘kee-wee’; this is where the bird's name comes from.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Northern brown kiwi are carnivores. Their diet includes earthworms, beetles, snails, crayfish, insects, crayfish, amphibians, and eels. They will also sometimes eat fruits and berries.

Mating Habits

75-90 days
4 weeks
2 eggs

Northern brown kiwi are monogamous and form pairs that can mate for life. They may produce 2-3 clutches a year. The nest is located in a burrow dug in the ground. The female lays 2 eggs and the male incubates them for 75-90 days. The chicks are precocial and hatch fully developed. They leave the nest within 1 week after hatching and are able to feed themselves. They usually become independent at 4 weeks of age and reach reproductive maturity when they are 4 years old.


Population threats

The biggest threats to Northern brown kiwi are habitat loss and predation by mammalian predators such as dogs, cats, and stoat. 94% of chicks die before breeding in areas where mammalian pest control is not carried out. Nationwide studies show that on average only 5% of kiwi chicks survive to adulthood.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Northern brown kiwi population size is around 26,550 individuals consisting of around 10,000-19,999 mature individuals. In 2015, a total population of 8,200 birds in Northland; 1,000 birds on Little Barrier; 1,700 birds on the Coromandel Peninsula; 7,150 birds in the eastern North Island and 7,500 birds in the western North Island. More than 1,000 individuals also occur on pest-free offshore islands, especially Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier. According to the Kiwis for kiwi resource in 2015 this specie’s populations have been estimated in such areas: Northland - 8, 200 individuals; Coromandel - 1, 700 individuals; Eastern - Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Hawke’s Bay - 7, 150 individuals; Western - King Country, Taranaki, Whanganui - 7, 500 individuals. Overall, currently, Northern brown kiwi are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List but their numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Northern brown kiwi are important predators of invertebrates in their ecosystem. They also consume berries and fruits and may help to disperse seeds.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Northern brown kiwi is the only species of kiwi found internationally in zoos.
  • The kiwi holds the world record for laying the largest eggs relative to its body size.
  • Kiwi can't fly because they have heavy bones that are filled with marrow.
  • At the end of the wing, kiwi have a small claw that makes these birds seem more like a mammal than a bird.
  • Northern brown kiwi choose partners for life but recently it was discovered that pairs may 'divorce' if a female spots a more attractive male.


1. North Island Brown Kiwi on Wikipedia -
2. North Island Brown Kiwi on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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