If you are having some difficulty seeing the subject of the above photos – welcome to the club. This extraordinary bird is the kiwi which is endemic to and is the national bird of New Zealand. It is nocturnal and the above pics were taken in the dark when the birds head out to feed.
NEW ZEALND – KIWI
Kiwi are more quirky and unusual than most national birds, which is the major reason New Zealanders chose it. In fact the citizens of New Zealand are affectionally known as “Kiwis.“
In addition, it is short and squat, with mottled coloring that blends into the ground cover. Despite its tiny wings, it is flightless. There’s more to its uniqueness::
- It’s feathers are very loose, molt all year round and look more like fur
- It has nostrils at the end of its beak and has an incredible sense of smell.
- It has whiskers, much like a cat
- It’s bones are not hollow like other birds, but rather have marrow.. like a human.
- The , females have two ovaries.
- Kiwi eggs take up about 20% of the female’s body, relatively 6 times bigger than other birds eggs verses their mothers
- Kiwis can live up to 50 years
The last factor has been drastically effected by its predators – many of which are not endemic to New Zealand and were brought in by humans. These include stoats, weasels, ferrets, dogs and cats. In fact only 5% of kiwis hatched survive to adulthood.
Here are some better photos from the internet. In the second one you can see the kiwi’s beak nostril:
MALAYSIA – RHINOCEROS HORNBILL –
I was not on a nature journey per se when I meant this hornbill. I was an invited quest through my job as a national broadcast advertising media executive, to witness in the “Eco-Challenge Race” in Sabah, Malaysia in July 2000. This event, produced by Mark Burnett was the pre-cursor to today’s Survivor series on CBS-TV and there also is a modern version of it presently running on Amazon Prime Video.
International teams of 5 members raced non-stop, 24 hours a day, over a very difficult 300-mile course, participating in such activities as mountain biking, trekking, whitewater canoeing, horseback riding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, mountain climbing and even camel racing.
But of course, once in Malaysia I couldn’t resist taking some hikes in the rainforests to look for nature and discovered the hornbill which lives in the high canopy. Their name derives from a growth on their foreheads which look like a second beach. This horn is hollow and is made of keratin and it is believed that the horn acts like a megaphone to amplify the mating call. It must work, for hornbills mate for live and their lifespan is about 35 years.
Unfortunately my photos were pretty poor quality. As a requirement for this trip I had to take ant-malarial medication and at the time I was prescribed lariam, also known as mefloquine. Unfortunately for me I had sever side effects which included extreme exhaustion and hallucinations. Thank goodness eupated antimalarial meds do not include these reactions.
I have therefore chosen a few photos off the internet – enjoy!