Update from West Coast Wildlife Centre Franz Josef:
'Kuwi', the Rowi chick is now 5 days old and is a very active little bird! Last night Kuwi was offered food for the first time which he/she had good play with. Since the chick is not eating yet it is still losing weight, which is completely normal for a kiwi chick of this age. Kiwi chicks hatch with a large internal yolk sac in their gut which acts as a food source for the first couple of weeks of life. It is highly nutritious and initially weighs around 25% of their body weight, so can even inhibit movement in freshly hatched chicks. When we are handling the chicks the yolk sac can be easily be felt in their soft rounded bellies. As it gets utilized, their bellies will progressively get smaller and firmer while the chick progresses onto eating solid food – and usually a little bit of soil too! This chick is showing excellent foraging behavior and is constantly probing around in the soil in its brooder. In the wild a kiwi’s main diet is underground invertebrates, which the nostrils and vibration sensor at the tip of their bill easily help them locate underground. Analysis of wild diets have shown that Kiwi are omnivorous with a wide range of fruits, seeds and leaves eaten and even evidence of fishing for underwater invertebrates, crayfish and small eels. Once ‘Kuwi’ is eating well and gaining weight, we will microchip and vaccinate it to prepare the chick for release to an outdoor enclosure – the next exciting step in the Kiwis for kiwi Operation Nest Egg journey!