Round, Brown, and 'Ridiculously Cute': Baby Kiwis Return to New Zealand Capital

Dec 12, 2023

Long a symbol for the island nation of New Zealand, the flightless kiwi bird has seen its population plummet over the past hundred years. Now, though, thanks to intense conservation and restoration efforts, there’s new hope. Two kiwi chicks were born in the capital city of Wellington.

The long-beaked, bumbling, roly-poly chicks are the first of their kind born in the city in more than 150 years. They were discovered in late November in a Wellington suburb. Community members there teamed with the Capital Kiwi Project. That’s a nonprofit dedicated to protecting New Zealand’s national bird.

“To have kiwi out there breeding is deeply, deeply satisfying,” Paul Ward told The Guardian. “(It’s) a very sweet milestone.” Ward is the Capital Kiwi Project’s founder.

Capital Kiwi released 11 of the birds last November. They introduced another 52 in the spring of this year. They also installed 4,600 stoat traps to protect the kiwis. Stoats, weasel-like predators, were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century. They were meant to help control rabbit populations. But they quickly started to prey on native birds. Kiwis are especially vulnerable. This is because they cannot fly. More than 12 million kiwi once lived in New Zealand. Now there are fewer than 68,000.

The next several months will be crucial for the fledgling kiwis, Ward explained.

“The coming months are (vital) as they grow and put on weight to the point that they can fend off stoats with their big claws,” Ward told The Guardian. He hopes that press coverage of the “ridiculously cute” newborn kiwis will ensure that humans continue to protect the birds.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons courtesy of Allie_Caulfield.

Reflect: How do you think humans' actions impact the survival of wildlife in their natural habitats, and what can we do to support the conservation of endangered species?

What idea is highlighted by the author throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. the geographical distribution of kiwi bird habitats
b. the ongoing conservation efforts and community involvement in protecting kiwi birds
c. the introduction and impact of stoats on native bird populations
d. the historical significance of kiwi birds
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