Egg jiggling slightly? Check. Tip of a long pink beak poking through? Check. Mewling sound? Check.
They say it takes a village to raise a child - well it's the same for one of New Zealand’s most endangered birds, the much-loved kiwi.
There's a lot of hard work and love that goes into saving kiwi and in an egg-citing milestone, the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa is about to celebrate the arrival of their 2,000th chick.
With only hours left to go, viewers across the globe can tune in live and watch the egg-ceptionally special moment the baby chick makes its fluffy debut.
The first-in-the-world live stream follows the 2000th egg in its journey to become the newest kiwi celebrity.
The egg was laid between 75 and 78 days ago and the chick number is expected to hatch sometime within the next 24 hours. Watch here.
There are about 68,000 kiwi left in New Zealand and we are losing 3 per cent of our unmanaged kiwi every year. Without ongoing support, experts estimate the brown kiwi will be extinct in the wild within two generations.
The National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa, at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, is the leading kiwi hatchery in the world, incubating and hatching over 130 kiwi chicks each year – about 75 per cent of all kiwi incubated and hatched ex-situ in New Zealand.
Out of every 100 kiwi eggs laid in burrows in the forest, only five kiwi chicks will make it to adulthood. By hatching the kiwi eggs in safety at the hatchery and caring for them until they reach a “stoat-proof” weight of 1kg, their survival rate increases to 65 per cent.
Welcoming their 2,000th chick is huge testament to the amazing work the team at the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa has been doing since receiving their first kiwi egg in 1995.
“We are thrilled to give the public this insider view of the arrival of this rare chick," National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa spokesperson Helen McCormick said.
"This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the important work the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa is doing to care for and protect our kiwi."
After the chick has hatched, the team at the National Kiwi Hatchery will give it a full health check-up and then place it in a specially designed hatcher.
After two days the chick will be moved to a brooder box - a creche for baby kiwi that’s a nice safe, warm place to grow up without having to worry about predators.
At three weeks old, the chick will be released into an outdoor enclosure mimicking natural forest conditions, staying there until it grows to one kilogramme in weight. After four to five months it will be returned to the wild, big enough to fend for itself in the face of any predators.
Visitors to New Zealand can view the incubation and hatching work by purchasing a National Kiwi Hatchery tour when visiting Rainbow Springs in Rotorua. Rainbow Springs is owned and operated by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, which is also the National Kiwi Hatchery’s biggest sponsor.
Visitors can also see kiwi in the wild in other safe kiwi havens throughout New Zealand. See a full list here.
Kiwi - Did you know?
Kiwi have many weird and wonderful features thanks to New Zealand’s ancient isolation and lack of mammals. Their one-off evolutionary design holds all sorts of biological records.
- Kiwi are rare birds, out on their own with unbirdlike habits and physical characteristics that are more like mammals. They’re sometimes referred to as honorary mammals.
- Kiwi can’t fly and, curiously, New Zealand has more species of flightless birds – both living and extinct – than any other country.
- Kiwi are stylish, hatching fresh from the egg, fully feathered and able to feed themselves which is very unusual for a bird.
- Kiwi build burrows like a badger.
- Kiwi sleep standing up, so it helps that they have solid, muscular legs that make up one third of their weight.
- Kiwi run fast - as fast as a human, when they’re alarmed.
- Kiwi have four toes and large, padded dinosaur-style feet, perfect for creeping silently about.
- Kiwi feathers are shaggy and hair-like, and it has whiskers like a cat.
- Kiwis are cool with a body temperature that’s lower than most birds, more like a mammal.
- Kiwi mums are hard workers, laying up to 100 eggs in a lifetime – each one equal to about 20% of the poor kiwi mum’s body (compare that to a full-term human baby at 5% of its mother’s body weight).
- Kiwi have big ears with large, visible openings and keen hearing.
- Kiwi have a highly developed sense of smell and touch, helped by its unique external nostrils at the tip of its beak.