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Apteryx australis, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Palaeognathae
Ordo: Apterygiformes

Familia: Apterygidae
Genus: Apteryx
Species: Apteryx australis
Subspecies: A. a. australis – A. a. lawryi

Apteryx australis Shaw, 1813: pls. 1057, 1058

Shaw, G.K. & Nodder, F.P. 1789–1813. The Naturalist's Miscellany, or coloured figures of natural objects; drawn and described from nature. Nodder & Co., London. 24 vols., unnumbered pages in 287 parts. BHL Reference page.

Vernacular names
العربية: كيوي
čeština: Kivi jižní
dansk: Brun kiwi
Deutsch: Südlicher Streifenkiwi
Ελληνικά: Απτέρυξ
English: Tokoeka
Esperanto: Suda apterigo
español: Kiwi marrón
suomi: Ruskokiivi
français: Kiwi austral
עברית: קיווי
hrvatski: Obični kivi
italiano: Kiwi australe
日本語: キーウィ
한국어: 키위
lietuvių: Paprastasis kivis
Nederlands: Zuidereilandkiwi
polski: Kiwi brunatny
русский: Обыкновенный киви
slovenčina: Kivi veľký
slovenščina: Tokoeka
svenska: Sydkivi
ไทย: นกกีวีสีน้ำตาล
walon: Brun kiwi
中文: 棕色奇異鳥

The southern brown kiwi, tokoeka, or common kiwi[3] (Apteryx australis) is a species of kiwi from South Island, New Zealand. Until 2000 it was considered conspecific with the North Island brown kiwi, and still is by some authorities.


Apteryx australis is based on Greek and Latin. Apteryx means "A-" without "pterux" wings, and "australis" from "auster" the south wind, and "-alis" relating to.[6] The southern brown kiwi belongs to the kiwi family and it is a ratite, and a member of the order Apterygiformes. Like all ratites, its sternum has no keel, it is flightless, and it has a distinctive palate.[3]

The holotype specimen of Apteryx australis Shaw (Nat. Miscell., 24,1813, pl1057) is held in the collections of National Museums Liverpool at World Museum, with accession number NML-VZ D180. The specimen was collected by Captain Barclay at Dusky Sound, South Island, New Zealand and came to the Liverpool national collection via the 13th Earl of Derby's collection which was bequeathed to the people of Liverpool.

The southern brown kiwi is divided into two subspecies, with some conservationists arguing for a third:

A. a. australis, the Fiordland tokoeka, with a population of approximately 15,000 birds is found on and near the Fiordland on the South Island of New Zealand. A disjunct population, near Haast, called the Haast tokoeka or Haast brown kiwi (not to be confused with Apteryx haastii), is rare (with only about 350 specimens left) and is characterised by its rufous plumage.[7][8]
A. a. lawryi, is relatively common (20,000 birds) throughout its range, with about 17 birds per square kilometre. Its feathers are streaked lengthwise with reddish brown.[8]

Drawing of dissected specimen, with exposed muscles and wing-claw

It has no preen gland, and its feathers have no aftershafts and no barbules. There are large vibrissae around its gape, and it has no tail, only a pygostyle. It has a length of 45 to 55 cm (18–22 in) and the female weighs 2.1 to 3.9 kg (4.6–8.6 lb) and the male weighs 1.6 to 2.8 kg (3.5–6.2 lb). Its bill is long and slender with a slight down-curve. Like other kiwis it is nocturnal. The colour of its plumage is rufous with some streaking.[3]

Southern brown kiwi communicate vocally to aid in defending their territory. They will also sing duets with each other, with the male shrill "kee-wee" or "kee-kee" and the females hoarse " kurr kurr".[7] Males are more vocal and they both call in an upright position with their legs stretched out and their bill pointing up.[3]
Specimen foraging on Stewart Island

The southern brown kiwi has a long slender bill with lateral nostrils at the tip, which helps give them their keen sense of smell. They utilise this, more than sight and sound, to forage in dirt for invertebrates, including earthworms, beetle larvae, snails, spiders, centipedes, and orthoptera. Its gizzard is weak, and underutilised due to the lack of plant matter. Its caeca are long and narrow and aid in digestion.[3]

The southern brown kiwi, like all kiwi, has two functioning ovaries, however only the left oviduct functions, allowing eggs from both ovaries to pass through. It is a monogamous species and once paired up, they will defend their territories with warning calls. The size of their territory is between 4.9 and 43 hectares (12 and 106 acres). Nests are made in burrows, or sheltered beneath thick vegetation. The female lays 1–2 eggs, typically just 1, which the male incubates for 90 days. After a few days the chick will exit the nest and feed on its own, although it may stay around parents for a year. When not incubating eggs, they roost alone in sheltered places at ground level.[3]
Range and habitat
Breeding Population and Trends[8]

Location Population Date Trend
Stewart Island 20,000 1996 Stable
Fiordland 7,000 1996 Decreasing
Haast 300[9] 2008 Increasing
Total (New Zealand) 27,000 1996 Declining

Southern brown kiwi live in the South Island and Stewart Island. On the mainland (South Island) they live in Fiordland and Westland. Their range is temperate and sub-tropical forests, grassland, and shrubland, the denser the better.[3] They are widespread throughout Stewart Island where they also live on the sand dunes.[8]

In 2000, after being recognised by IUCN, they were placed in the Vulnerable status group.[2] They have an occurrence range of 9,800 km2 (3,800 sq mi) and population of 27,000 was estimated in 1996.[8] Brush-tailed possums, Trichosurus vulpecula, and stoats, Mustela erminea, will eat the eggs, while stoats and cats will eat chicks and juveniles. Adults are also under threat as dogs, ferrets, and brush-tailed possums, attack them and the juveniles. The Stewart Island population is stable due to the lack of these predators,[2] however stoats may have colonised the island in 2000.[8]

In 2018 a drought caused a poor breeding season for Haast tokoeka and killed three chicks; six were airlifted to Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin, and then on to a "creche" on Rona Island in Lake Manapouri, Fiordland.[10]

"Apteryx australis (southern brown kiwi)". PBDB.
BirdLife International (2019). "Apteryx australis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T22678122A155418586. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T22678122A155418586.en. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
Davies, S. J. J. F. (2003)
Brands, S. (2008)
Gill; et al. (2010). "Checklist of the birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica" (PDF) (4th ed.). Te Papa Press. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
Gotch, A. F. (1995)
Robertson, H.A. (May 2014). "Southern brown kiwi". New Zealand Birds Online. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
BirdLife International (2016)
Save the Kiwi (2008)

Mills, Laura (27 February 2018). "Drought kills Haast kiwi chicks". Hokitika Guardian. p. 2.

BirdLife International (2016). "Southern Brown Kiwi – BirdLife Species Factsheet". Data Zone. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
Brands, Sheila (14 August 2008). "Systema Naturae 2000 / Classification, Apteryx australis". Project: The Taxonomicon. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
Davies, S.J.J.F. (2003). "Kiwis". In Hutchins, Michael (ed.). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 8 Birds I Tinamous and Ratites to Hoatzins (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. pp. 89–92. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0.
Gotch, A.F. (1995) [1979]. "Kiwis". Latin Names Explained. A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. London: Facts on File. p. 180. ISBN 0-8160-3377-3.
Save the Kiwi (2008). "Population status of the Tokoeka Kiwi". Save the Kiwi. Archived from the original on 26 May 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009.

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