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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Kiwi hatching season closed !!!

Incubation refers to the process by which certain oviparous (egg-laying) animals hatch their eggs.  The most vital factor of incubation is the constant temperature required for its development over a specific period. Hatching of eggs refers to the production of baby chicks.  In nature, mother birds would take care of hatching – in farms, Incubators, which provide similar environment as that of broody hens, but more efficiently, are used  for hatching of eggs.

Down under, hundreds  of suggestions are pouring in  for a flag to replace New Zealand’s current national symbol featuring the Union Jack have been submitted to the country's government, with the flightless bird Kiwi being head of the pack. During the official Flag Consideration Project, which will run through the year and in early 2016, options for the new national symbol will be considered. The current New Zealand Blue Ensign was adopted in 1902, with the Union Jack in its first quarter recognizing the country's colonial past as part of the British Empire. Earlier this year, Fiji announced that it would remove Great Britain’s Union Flag from its own national banner. Canada replaced the Union Flag with its current Maple Leaf in the 1960s, while Australia is still debating whether or not a new state symbol should be introduced.

New Zealand – the island Nation is in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses – that of the North Island, and the South Island,– and numerous smaller islands. It is also known as the ‘kiwiland’ - Kiwi is the name of the flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. At around the size of a domestic chicken, kiwis are by far the smallest living ratites and lay the largest egg in relation to their body size of any species of bird in the world. The kiwi is a national symbol of New Zealand, and the association is so strong that the term Kiwi is used in some parts of the world as the colloquial demonym for New Zealanders.

Mostly female birds dutifully sit on their nests keeping eggs warm; there are some cases in which the male parent too helps. Eggs come in all shapes, sizes and even the contents inside vary.  In general, large  birds lay large eggs and tiny birds lay tiny eggs.  But when the size of the egg is compared to the size of the adult bird, small birds lay proportionally larger eggs. Looking at percentages, an ostrich egg weighs 1.8 percent of the adult’s body weight, a robin egg eight percent and a wren egg 14 percent. An outlier to all these percentages is the kiwi in New Zealand with 18 percent instead of the expected three percent of the adult’s body weight. One factor influencing the weight of the egg is the yolk. Some eggs have proportionally larger yolks regardless of egg size.

Now NZ Herald Co NZ reports that the  kiwi hatching season has closed with the discovery of a late egg, out of which will soon emerge a fluffy chick. The egg was discovered by a ranger charging a transmitter on a male brown kiwi named Max in the Tongariro Forest last week. Worried that the egg might be abandoned by its father, she took the egg to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua for incubation and hatching. When brown kiwis are in the wild, the egg is incubated by the father, while the mother goes off to feed.

"Sometimes when a kiwi is scared it won't return to incubate the egg, so the best option in this instance was to bring the egg to Kiwi Encounter to hatch," said Kiwi Encounter husbandry manager Claire Travers. It will take around five weeks for the egg to hatch, which is estimated to be at 40 days of development. The current kiwi hatching season has been longer than usual, beginning on September 5, with the latest arrival possibly stretching the close of the season out to June.

Kiwi Encounter oversaw the hatching of 107 eggs during the season, with two still in incubation and another one due to hatch any day. "As always its been a very rewarding season, the Kiwi Encounter team never tires from nurturing these precious birds and helping ensure that they have a strong start in life so they can survive in the wild," said Ms Travers.

Interesting Kiwis

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th May 2015

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