Hot on the tailfeathers of a white-naped crane chick and two Guam kingfisher chicks, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s bird team celebrated the arrival of yet another rare resident—a brown kiwi! The chick kicked its way out of its shell April 28 around 2:15 p.m.
Keepers are hand-raising the chick and report that it is eating, moving and vocalizing well. They have not noticed any distinctive personality traits per se, but that is typical for a bird of this age. As the chick grows, its likes and dislikes will become more apparent.
Like other young hand-raised kiwi, this chick falls asleep readily during the day and explores at night. The chick is also quite sassy when animal care staff handle it for feedings or veterinary exams. To express its distaste, it will snap its bill—a warning behavior—as well as kick, vocalize and squirm.
Watch the kiwi chick kick its way out of its shell in this time-lapse video!
When kiwi first hatch, keepers closely monitor their weights to determine the optimal time to offer food. At its first weigh-in, this chick tipped the scales at 313.5 grams, or about half-a-pound. In comparison, adult males typically weigh about 4 pounds, and adult females weigh about 5.5 pounds.
In the wild, when a brown kiwi chick hatches, it receives no parental care and must find food on its own. At SCBI, keepers initially offer the chick a mixture of meat (beef), pellets and produce. If the chick does not eat on its own and loses 30% of its initial weight, keepers will hand-feed the chick several times a day. Generally, young kiwi eat without assistance shortly thereafter.
Keepers ensure that the chicks recognize the mixture as food and readily eat it before they offer the birds’ preferred food items: earthworms and mealworms. That way, they are receiving a nutritionally-balanced meal and not only noshing on their favorite “treats.”