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11 Flightless Facts About Kiwis

Kiwis, the squat vertebrates endemic to New Zealand—not to be confused with the hairy fruit—are odd birds. The endangered, chicken-sized kiwi is the smaller cousin of species like the ostrich and the emu, but shares more characteristics with mammals than the average fowl. Here are 11 facts about the New Zealand avian icon: 

1. They lay really, really big eggs. 

Kiwi eggs can weigh up to one quarter of an adult bird’s body mass. To give you some perspective on that number, the average American woman weighs 166 pounds—if she gave birth to a kiwi-sized baby, it would weigh just over 40 pounds as a newborn. By proportion, the kiwi lays the largest eggs of any bird in the world.

2. They cannot fly.

Like their relative the ostrich, kiwis are flightless birds belonging to a group called ratites.

3. Like Bruce Springsteen, they’re born to run.

As Audobon magazine wrote of the advantages of the bird’s obscenely large progeny, “the giant egg means that kiwi chicks hatch…

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