Rowi Kiwi (Apteryx rowi ) is a endemic, nationally vulnerable member of the kiwi family (Apterygidae). They are the rarest of the five species of kiwi. They are also known as the Okarito kiwi or Okarito brown kiwi as there is now only one natural population in Okarito forest on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
As part of Operation Nest Egg (ONE). Rowi Kiwi are translocated to two predator-free islands in the Marlborough Sounds where they grow safely away from predators. Once they can look after themselves, they are returned to the Okarito forest to add to the breading numbers.
The Rowi Kiwi are flightless, with tiny vestigial wings and no tail. They are nocturnal, therefore more often heard than seen. The males gives a repeated high-pitched ascending whistle, while the females give a deeper throaty cry. Predominantly pale greyish brown, streaked lengthways with brown and black; many birds have occasional white facial feathers. Their feather tips feel soft, they have a long and pale bill, short pale legs, toes and claws.
The adult birds are about 40cm long and the average weight of a male Rowi Kiwi is 1.6 to 2.4 kg and 2 to 2.5 kg for females.
Kiwi eggs are massive in comparison to the bird’s size, weighing around 400 g each – around 20% of the female’s bodyweight!
Incubation is shared between the parents, with males doing about 60% of the egg sitting.
All kiwi chicks are self-sufficient as soon as they hatch. Rowi Kiwi juveniles often stay with their family group for 4–5 years, sharing their burrow and helping to raise younger siblings. This is different to brown kiwi, where the chicks are completely independent from at least two months of age.
Rowi Kiwis are slow breeders, normally laying just one egg per year but can have two clutches in one breeding season if the first fails or up to three clutches a season if the eggs are removed as part of Operation Nest Egg.