Kiwis are nocturnal birds, spending the day resting in burrows dug into the ground with powerful claws. Shortly after sunset, kiwis emerge to forage for insects, snails, spiders, earthworms and fallen fruits on the forest floor (3) (7). Insect prey is found by tapping and sniffing the ground, followed by plunging the long beak into the earth, stabbing back and forth to catch underground quarry. Food is subsequently picked up with the tip of the bill, and thrown to the back of the throat with quick jerks (4).
In common with other kiwis, the rowi is strictly monogamous, forming permanent pair bonds. Partners fiercely defend territories of around one square kilometre, using olfactory communication, vocal displays, and occasionally physical battles. The male in particular will vigorously repel strange birds, often inflicting wounds on the intruder (3) (4) (7).
The rowi breeds between June and February, with pairs commencing courtship displays of running and chasing, and loud grunting and snorting (4) (5). Usually a single, exceptionally large egg is laid, which may weigh as much as a quarter of the female’s weight, and both parents alternate incubation duties for some 65 to 90 days (4). During this time, the parents shed feathers from the breast, leaving a naked patch that is thought to help transfer heat to the egg. Once hatched, the well developed, fully feathered chicks venture out of the nest to feed themselves, becoming independent at two to seven weeks old. The juveniles grow slowly, taking three to five years to reach adult size, but once maturity is reached, survival in the rowi is exceptionally high, with a life expectancy of over 56 years and some birds living up to a remarkable 100 years old (2) (7).