5 Dec 2015

Killer Kiwi

From This Way Up, 12:25 pm on 5 December 2015

Kiwi kills robins

A Little Spotted Kiwi has been filmed destroying a North Island Robin's nest and killing two young chicks.  It's the first time that this endangered, flightless bird has been seen showing this level of aggression towards another species.  

Dr Rachael Shaw, a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University, made the gruesome discovery when she reviewed video footage.

"I discovered that the nest had actually been torn out from its location and that the chicks were dead on the ground and that they had these peck wounds...I got the biggest surprise because I was expecting to see a morepork or perhaps a kaka which can be pretty destructive when they forage having caused this...This is the first time that there's been any record that I could find of a kiwi interacting with another species in this way, and destroying a nest like this." –Dr Rachael Shaw

One man who has been watching kiwi in the wild for over 25 years is bird expert Hugh Robertson. Mr Roberston works for the Department of Conservation and is one of the authors of 'The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand'. 

He said that kiwi are very territorial birds that will fight with, and sometimes even kill, other kiwi encroaching on their turf. He thinks the likeliest explanation for this incident is that it's a case of mistaken identity, and doesn't think we need to reassess the reputation of our national bird.

"I think their reputation as the killed kiwi is probably still the real reputation. They are getting killed in their thousands by stoats and dogs and ferrets every year. And so one kiwi mistakenly killing some robins shouldn't label kiwi as the killers, but the killed." – Hugh Robertson