One of the simplest ways to locate a kiwi is to listen to its call.
Kiwi call at night to mark their territory and stay in touch with their mates. The best time to listen for a kiwi calling is on a moonless night, up to two hours after dark, and just before dawn. That’s when kiwi stir from their burrows and call to make contact with their partner or family, and to mark their territory.
What to listen for
Deciphering sounds in the night forest can sometimes be confusing. The calls of many other birds and nocturnal animals are often mistaken for that of a kiwi.
The call of the male kiwi is repetitive and shrill and has 8-25 notes.
The call of the female is a repetitive guttural sound of 10-20 notes.
Kiwi call scheme
A kiwi call scheme run by the Department of Conservation collects information from people who can reliably identify kiwi calls and are prepared to carry out timed counts. Over the years, the scheme has provided a great baseline of information.
Female Brown Kiwi
Male Brown Kiwi
Female Roroa/Great Spotted Kiwi
Male Roroa/Great Spotted Kiwi
Telling the difference
Kiwi calls can easily be confused with other nocturnal animals. Some of the more common mistakes are made with:
- Long-tail cuckoo
- Matuku/white faced heron
Click on the audio players to hear each creature’s call.
Morepork / Ruru
Learn more about kiwi
How you can help
Many hands make light work. Keen to join the mission to save the kiwi? Here are some ways you can help.