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EnvironmentThe only bird without a tail!

The only bird without a tail!

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

There are over 11,000 species of birds in the world and only one is tailless. Do you know who she is?


The Latin name of the bird is Apteryx, which literally means “wingless”. The origin of the term is from ancient Greek, where the first letter “a” means “lack” and the rest of the word means “wing”. The name “kiwi” comes from the Maori language, from whose homeland the bird originated.

Kiwi is the only genus in the family of Lepidoptera in the order Kiwipodidae. It is distributed only on the territory of New Zealand. The genus includes a total of five endemic species, all of which are threatened with extinction. Although they call the kiwi a “bird without wings”, this is not exactly the case. The wings of the kiwi are not completely absent, but they have adapted to a terrestrial lifestyle. The kiwi has a characteristic structure of its feathers, their hairs are connected with “hooks” and represent a complex structure that allows the bird to fly or swim, preserving its energy as much as possible.

The Kiwi is endangered

There are only about 68,000 kiwi birds left in the world. Every year their number decreases by about 2% per year. Therefore, New Zealand adopted a plan to increase the number of this species that inhabits its territory. In 2017, the New Zealand government adopted the Kiwi Recovery Plan 2017-2027, the goal of which is to increase the number of birds to 100,000 in 15 years. In the country, the bird is considered a national icon.

What does a kiwi bird look like?

The kiwi is the size of a domestic hen, it can reach up to 65 cm in length, at a height of more than 45 cm. Their weight varies from 1 to 9 kg, with an average bird weighing 3 kg. The kiwi has a pear-shaped body and a small head with a massive neck. The bird’s eyes are also small, no more than 8 mm in diameter. In addition, the kiwi has the poorest eyesight of all birds. The beak of the kiwi is specific – very long, thin and sensitive. In males, it reaches up to 105 mm, and in females – up to 120 mm. The kiwi is the only bird whose nostrils are not at the base, but at the tip of the beak.

Kiwi wings are stunted and about 5 cm long. At the end of the wings they have a small claw and are completely hidden under the thick wool. On the feet, the bird has 3 toes forward and one turned backward, like the rest of the species. The fingers end in sharp claws. The kiwi runs very fast, even faster than a human.

Photo: Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, DC

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