The All Black who's all white! Rare Kiwi chick a surprise Christmas gift for wildlife centre

By Anna Edwards

A bit of all-white! The rare bird gave wildlife authorities a shock when it hatched

This rare Kiwi chick is betraying its 'All Black' heritage - because his feathers are snow white.

The flightless bird's unusual colouring gave keepers at Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, New Zealand, a white Christmas when it hatched in their nursery.

Both of its parents are believed to have carried a rare and recessive white gene which caused his pure white feathers.

Local Maori have named the chick Mauriora, meaning sustained life, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Centre manager Kathy Houkamau said: 'We were gob-smacked when we saw it was white' and described it as a 'delightful gift, especially at this time of the year'.

The North Island Brown Kiwi will now be hand-reared at the centre, near Wellington, New Zealand.

It is the second rare white kiwi to hatch at New Zealand's national wildlife centre after the world's first, called Manukura, was hatched in captivity in May.

White Christmas! The flightless chick will now be hand-reared

Curiously coloured Kiwi: The flightless birds are normally brown, like this one

The chick is thought to be from the same parents as Manukara, who caused a sensation when he was born.

The flightless kiwi is a national symbol of New Zealand and the name is so internationally recognised that it is used as a nickname for New Zealanders.

The New Zealand men's national rugby team are known as the All Blacks.

About the size of a chicken when fully grown, they lay the largest egg in relation to their body size of any species of bird in the world.

However, the Kiwi is threatened by predators including rats, cats, dogs, ferrets and possums, and it is estimated there are fewer than 70,000 left with several sub-species listed as critically endangered.

Largely nocturnal, they burrow in the ground and is the only bird known to have nostrils at the end of its bill, which it uses to sniff out food which includes soil invertebrates and fruit.

Females are larger than males and the male brown kiwi does most of the egg incubating. Chicks hatch fully feathered after 70 to 85 days incubation and are largely independent from their parents at a few weeks of age.

And the Kiwi is a romantic bird - when a pair bond they usually mate for life.

Typically they have a remarkably long life, sometimes living for up to 50 years. One south island species (the rowi) may live for up to 100 years.



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